Tim Garson: Fit to be bow-tied

Now finishing his first year at the UVA medical school, Arthur "Tim" Garson Jr. has been here long enough for people to wonder why someone named Arthur is called Tim, and what's with the bowties?

Sporting the school colors with a navy and orange bowtie, set off by his white medical jacket, UVA's new vice president and dean of the School of Medicine clears up these mysteries.

"I was a preemie," he explains. "I weighed under five pounds. My parents wanted to name me Arthur, but I became known as Tiny Tim, and it stuck from day one."

As for the bowtie look, Garson credits the single best teacher he had during his first year in med school for influencing his choice in neckwear. "It made him distinctive," he says. As only one in a class of 105 students, Garson decided that wasn't a bad thing to do himself.

Not that there have been all accolades for his fashion sense. The pediatric cardiologist recounts how he was wearing a particularly "bright" bowtie while speaking at Baylor, when he noticed heart transplant pioneer Denton Cooley laughing during his presentation. When he inquired afterward, Cooley said he used to have a bowtie and shirt like Garson's, but his wife wouldn't let him wear it.

Garson's Cavalier-inspired bowtie was purchased last year after he was offered and accepted his current job. "I thought it was a good idea," he says.

And he offers this nugget of information: His bowties are made from two regular ties. Garson bought eight Cavalier ties, took them to Houston and had them made into four bowties, his first significant investment in his new job.

But Garson isn't here just to make a fashion statement. The former Baylor dean, who also was an associate vice chancellor at Duke, where he went to med school, is charged with keeping UVA Medical Center a top facility.

He's unveiled six models for excellence that he hopes will become models for the rest of the country over the next decade.

And he's open to input from other disciplines such as business, law, chemistry, and physics. "That's what's fun about being in a top public university: the people here," he says.

As if his administrative visionary plate weren't full enough, Garson also still teaches and actually sees patients. Every few weeks, he loads up residents and fellows, and lectures them during the four-hour round trip to a field clinic in Winchester. "It's really the best use of my time," the top doc says.

If he ever gets tired of medicine, Garson has a backup plan– and it doesn't involve fashion. Read on for his well thought-out Walter Mitty fantasy.

Age: 54

What brought you here? Collaborative and innovative faculty; extraordinary university leadership

What's worst about living here? Waiting a year for my family to move (which they now have!)

Favorite hangout? New friends' houses; people have been wonderfully welcoming.

Most overrated virtue? My medical writing; I wish I could write short stories.

What would people be surprised to know about you? I used to sell women's lingerie.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Answer emails tomorrow instead of right now but I can't.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? I'm proud of developing a national healthcare plan.

What do people find most annoying about you? Email at 3am

Whom do you admire? FDR, Colin Powell, and Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund

Favorite book? E.B. White's One Man's Meat, a compilation of short stories

What subject causes you to rant? The uninsured (for healthcare)

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? The Internet

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? The prediction of three to four careers per person

What do you drive? BMW

What's in your car CD player right now? Handel's Messiah

 What's your next journey? Helping to operationalize a 10-year strategy for the School of Medicine and Health System

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? Painting the library dome pink in high school

What do you regret? Not taking more art courses in college

Favorite comfort food? Chocolate

What's always in your refrigerator? Grapes, and I don't really like them, either.

Must-see TV? Dobie Gillis

 Favorite cartoon? Peanuts

Describe a perfect day. Beach

Walter Mitty fantasy? Owning and operating a combination French restaurant and art gallery

Who'd play you in the movie? Dustin Hoffman

Most embarrassing moment? Taking a live microphone to the men's room during a conference

Best advice you ever got? Don't ever be in charge of parking.

Favorite bumper sticker? Healthcare for all of U.S.