University of North Texas System Chancellor Lee Jackson was worried about perceptions in Fort Worth after the board of regents voted Dec. 21 to fire UNT Health Science Center President Scott Ransom.It seems Jackson has had to worry about Fort Worth a lot in recent months.That might not be a bad thing.Though disruption creates uncertainty, it also makes people take notice and ask questions.Primary among them should be, "Where does Fort Worth fit in with UNT's many ambitions?"During his 10 years as chancellor, Jackson has moved the system's headquarters from Denton to Dallas -- to the consternation of UNT alums like state Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound.He worked to secure approval for the UNT Dallas College of Law, which is expected to start classes in fall 2014 (lawschool.untsystem.edu/). Texas A&M University's purchase of Texas Wesleyan's downtown Fort Worth law school created a race to be the first public law school to open its doors in North Texas.Jackson helped drive growth at UNT Dallas, which now enrolls some 2,000 students at its campus in south Dallas. The school is seeking a new president.Regardless of who or what brought about Ransom's ouster, its abruptness has aroused skeptics who recall the 2010 resignation of Gretchen Bataille as president of the UNT 36,000-student flagship campus in Denton. She had butted heads with Jackson over several issues.The UNT System counts more than 100,000 alumni living and working in North Texas. It's understandable if they are wondering where things are heading.It's evident that UNT has been positioning itself to become a major academic force, if not the dominant public university, in the region.But what does that mean for the Health Science Center, a well-regarded institution in its own right?"I'm excited about the Health Science Center," Jackson said in a telephone interview with the Editorial Board Dec. 21.From his perspective, the system "has been a committed, effective partner" to Fort Worth.But Jackson acknowledged that "some state policy leaders" wondered what signal it sent when the regents agreed to study the possibility of putting UNTHSC under the administrative control of the Denton campus. Was there no longer interest in pursuing an M.D. program for the Health Science Center, which is limited by state law to granting osteopathic medical degrees?Merger talk was put on hold to focus on the M.D. degree. But Jackson said the issue might not be ripe for the 2013 legislative session, even though backers have secured pledges for the $25 million estimated cost for the first five years."We haven't yet succeeded in creating enough unity and support to achieve approval," he said.Some might suspect that Michael Williams, a graduate of UNTHSC's Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and a hospital administrator, was named interim president to help build that lagging support. In a short stint as a UNT System board member, Williams has been seen as a liaison to osteopathic physicians, maybe even some opposed to the M.D. proposal."Any change in leadership creates an opportunity to freshen and improve your alliances," Jackson said, somewhat cryptically. "A fresh negotiator might sometimes open pathways to opportunity."That might not be enough, though. South Texas lawmakers who've spent years lobbying for a medical school in the Rio Grande Valley are fed up waiting. With the University of Texas moving ahead on a medical school in Austin, the UT System has announced a plan to merge components in Edinburg, Brownsville and Harlingen into a University for the Americas with the goal of developing an existing academic health center into a medical school.The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has issued a new draft report emphasizing the need for residency slots.A former Dallas County judge who served 10 years in the Texas House, Jackson knows his way around Austin. There's little doubt he can be an effective advocate for the M.D. program, but he seems to want and need Fort Worth's trust. The dust is still settling.