The future of medical education, care and research is taking shape at the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, created in unprecedented partnership with local taxpayers, who in 2012 voted to support a vision for better health in Austin and Travis County.
With the opportunity to start from scratch also comes the opportunity to create a new type of medical school and to really rethink the role of academic medicine in improving health.
In the words of Dean Clay Johnston, “I’m not interested in creating just another medical school, but in creating a medical school that really represents what we want health – and health education – to be in the next century.” The school’s unique vision and mission represent that aspiration.
Vision: A Vital, Inclusive Health Ecosystem
- Vital: Vigorous, animated, full of life and energy, dynamic
- Inclusive: Open to everyone
- Ecosystem: The complex of a community and its environment functioning as a system
Mission: We will revolutionize how people get and stay healthy by:
- Improving health in our community as a model for the nation;
- Evolving new models of person-centered, multidisciplinary care that reward value;
- Accelerating innovation and research to improve health;
- Educating leaders who transform health care; and
- Redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society.
The University of Texas at Austin was founded in 1883 by the Texas State Constitution and was the result of a mandate to establish “a university of the first class.” UT Austin is now one of the largest and most respected research universities in the world. It is a diverse learning community with more than 51,000 students hailing from every state and more than 100 countries. Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin is the newest of 18 colleges and schools on campus.
Since the university’s inception in 1883, medical education was part of the plan to build a university of the first class. Owing to political maneuvering, though, the medical branch of the university was located in Galveston, a booming port city prior to 1900.
For 125 years, the idea for medical education in Austin continued to germinate. In 2008, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas approved preliminary plans to locate a regional campus in the city, developing projections to test the financial feasibility of starting a modest-size, high-quality, research-oriented medical school in Austin. By fall 2009, UT Southwestern had signed an affiliation agreement with Ascension’s Seton Healthcare Family to partner in providing graduate medical education (GME) and pursue a vision of developing a medical school in Austin that would provide undergraduate medical education, GME and clinical research.
In late 2011, State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) created a list of 10 health-care centered goals he hoped to achieve within 10 years for his Central Texas district. No. 1 on that list was to build a medical school. Watson quickly created alignment with these goals from multiple constituencies, beginning with The University of Texas System Board of Regents. In May 2012, the Board of Regents allocated $25 million of annual funding to a UT Austin medical school, plus another $40 million over eight years for faculty recruiting. In November 2012, Travis County voters approved a proposition to raise property tax revenue in support of health care initiatives for Central Texas, including $35 million annually for a medical school. And in 2013, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation pledged $50 million over 10 years to the school, which was named the Dell Medical School.
With significant funding sources secured, the UT System Board of Regents approved a plan in May 2013 to construct research, educational and administrative facilities, as well as a medical office building and parking garage on UT Austin property. Seton Healthcare Family and Central Health also confirmed plans to build a new teaching hospital on leased university land in the heart of the burgeoning health district. Construction of the facilities began in April 2014 and the Health Learning Building was completed in time to welcome the medical school’s first class in June 2016. Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, the new teaching hospital, opened in May 2017.
In January 2014, UT Austin named S. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston, MD, PhD, inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School, the first medical school in nearly 50 years to be built from the ground up at a top tier Association of American Universities (AAU) research university.