Provost Taylor: Committed to doing meaningful work in the community

C Taylor WebCharles Taylor, the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s Provost and EVP of Academic Affairs, began his journey in higher education earlier than most as he spent the first five years of his life living in a modified dorm room with his parents on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama where his dad worked in admissions. At five, his family moved from Birmingham to rural northern Alabama for his father to start a new position at a local community college.

The transition to rural Alabama was quite impactful in his life. He grew up in a small community with a population of approximately 900 people. It had a post office and one stop sign. Most kids who graduated high school often went to work for the local poultry plant or mobile home manufacturer.

Some of my fondest childhood memories included “hopping in the car with my family and driving 40 minutes to the nearest movie theater to catch a show and have dinner in the big city,” said Taylor.

Taylor’s grandfather, one of his most impactful role models, began encouraging him at an early age to “go out in the world and do great things.”  He initially incentivized and rewarded him for good grades with money but quickly learned appealing to Taylor’s sweet tooth was more impactful and switched from money to candy.  His grandfather didn’t want the challenges of being raised in a rural community to hold Taylor back from achieving greatness.

“I remember sitting around our dinner table listening to my family talk about their day. My mom worked in banking and my dad worked with students and I remember thinking to myself that neither of those areas appealed to me and I was going to chart a completely different course,” said Taylor.

“Growing up in a rural community, I experienced first-hand the challenges with access to quality health care and I knew I wanted to help people but didn’t know exactly what that looked like.” With high school graduation quickly approaching and still uncertain of the next chapter in his academic journey, Taylor shadowed the local doctor, dentist and pharmacist to glean a better understanding of their important roles in the health of his community.  After spending time with all of them, it was the pharmacist whom he connected with the most.

Taylor went on to earn his pharmacy degrees from Auburn University, completed a residency at Duke University Medical Center and began his academic career as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy. Over the next several years, his career in academic leadership took him across the country to the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, University of Minnesota and Northeast Ohio Medical University.

With the addition of a beautiful new son in 2012, he realized the importance of being close to family and started looking for career opportunities closer to home. “When I came across the position for the Dean of the College of Pharmacy at HSC, what really got my attention was HSC’s commitment to a values-based culture. I am an advocate for all our values but the one that resonates with me the most is ‘Serve Others First.’ From my grandfather’s encouragement to ‘go out and make a difference in the world’ to my parents’ ongoing support as I charted a path to do meaningful work in the community, I knew HSC was the perfect fit for me and my family.”

He accepted the role of Dean in the College of Pharmacy in 2017 and transitioned to his current position as Provost and EVP of Academic Affairs in August 2018. Taylor hit the ground running as Provost and hasn’t slowed down in the past three and a half years. From stabilizing the leadership in the colleges to overseeing the successful transition to a completely online learning environment when the pandemic hit in March 2020, there has never been a dull moment.

“Some days I feel like an air traffic controller working with all the different programs and colleges to ensure we’re in alignment with the President’s strategy and everyone remains focused on moving HSC forward. There are lots of moving pieces and parts and it’s my responsibility to ensure they come together to create a beautiful mosaic indicative of our HSC student experience.”

Taylor remains steadfast in his commitment to “doing meaningful work in the community and making a difference in the world” in all that he does every day. “In addition to identifying new and innovative ways to lead in our space, I want to continue building an ecosystem at HSC that embodies our commitment to addressing health disparities.  I want everyone, including my family and friends back home, to have access to quality health care regardless of geography or socioeconomic status,” says Taylor.

“It’s a systemic issue in our society that won’t be resolved overnight. However, I’m incredibly proud of the great things our students, staff and faculty are doing to address the inequities, such as our involvement with the recent Remote Area Medical (RAM) event and our Rural Osteopathic Medical Education program just to name a couple.”

“It’s ironic, because I remember all those nights sitting around the dinner table listening to my parents’ conversations thinking I would never work in a job that revolved around higher education and finances and yet, those areas are at the core of my role as Provost and EVP. A true testament that some things in life do come full circle.  I’m so thankful to the President and the Cabinet for allowing me the opportunity to do what I love every day at HSC.”

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