Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of our monthly College of Medicine newsletter.
I think it’s fair to say that the establishment of a medical school here at the University of Houston is one of the most exciting, not to mention challenging, enterprises we’ve undertaken. As Founding Dean, I hope to keep you up to date and well-informed about the headway we’re making and the important next steps we will be taking. Along with the basic information being shared, I also hope to explain the significance of some developments and put them into proper context whenever possible.
If I can summarize the significant amount of planning, preparation and groundwork that has been underway for the past three years leading up to this point … so far, so good.
Actually, that should be so far, so amazing. We have been taking carefully measured steps forward in this complicated process, but they are now adding up to a considerable amount of progress. Certainly, the vote of approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in October for UH to offer an M.D. degree stands as a major milestone. And I believe the fact that this vote was unanimous reflects the soundness of our proposal and the validity of our mission.
Recently, less than a month after the THECB endorsement, we took another impressive leap forward, with the UH System Board of Regents approving plans for a permanent building to house the College of Medicine. Although one proposal called for a site within the Texas Medical Center – which would have offered some obvious advantages – the board voted to place the four-story building here on campus on an undeveloped parcel of land we hold adjacent to MacGregor Park, just across the bayou. In fact, looking out my sixth floor office window in Health 2 Building (the temporary home for the medical school), I can see where the new building will stand, and I must say it’s a wonderfully inspiring view.
Locating our medical school on campus is a great decision. It will, of course, facilitate the close interaction between the College of Medicine and our other excellent health programs at University, which is essential to training well-rounded medical students. And it will add yet another notable element to the overall composition of our Tier One campus. But, just as important, placing the medical school directly on campus in close proximity to some of the very communities that most need assistance is ideal because it clearly aligns with our mission to address health care disparities in those communities. I believe this reflects just how deeply committed we are to this concept.
Of course, you don’t build a medical school just out of concrete and glass. You also need to assemble a talented leadership team and first-rate faculty. So I’m happy to say we have been making considerable progress on that front as well. At this point, our talented core group includes:
- Ruth L. Bush, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Associate Dean for Medical Education
- Kathryn V. Horn, M.D., Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Admissions and Outreach
- David S. Buck, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Dean for Community Health
- Brian C. Reed, M.D., Chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences
- Olivera Nesic-Taylor, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences
- Winston Liaw, M.D., M.P.H, Chair of the Department of Health Systems and Population Health Sciences
- William Elder, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences
I look forward to making further announcements about additional faculty recruits soon.
As you read this, we are busy preparing to make our case for financial support to the 86th Texas Legislature, which convenes in January. Basically, we will be asking for $20 million in funding from this session and $20 million spread across the next four sessions. We believe this is a sound investment for the state as we work to address the growing shortage of primary physicians in Texas.
If you have not seen the brief video explaining the College of Medicine’s vision and offering endorsements from a number of community leaders, I encourage you to take a look. Remember – you can always find a wealth of material on our website and if you have questions, please let us know.
Stephen J. Spann
College of Medicine