The University of Texas at Austin was founded in 1883 by the Texas State Constitution — the result of a mandate to establish “a university of the first class.” In 1891, the university opened a medical branch in the state’s booming port city of Galveston. But the desire for medical education in the state’s capital remained — and movement toward creating a medical school in Austin accelerated in the late 2000s.
UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas approves preliminary plans to locate a regional campus in Austin, developing projections to test the financial feasibility of starting a modest-size, research-oriented medical school in Austin.
The UT System Board of Regents allocates $25 million in annual funding for a UT Austin medical school, plus another $40 million over eight years for faculty recruiting. Travis County voters take the unprecedented step of approving Proposition 1 in November, which raises property tax revenue to improve health for the people of Central Texas. The investment includes $35 million annually for a new medical school.
The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation pledges $50 million over 10 years to the school through a naming gift in January. The UT System Board of Regents approves a plan in May to construct three news buildings to house medical education, research and administrative efforts on the UT Austin campus. Ascension Seton and Central Health, the Travis County Healthcare District, confirm plans to build a new teaching hospital on leased university land in the heart of the burgeoning Health District.
In January, UT Austin names Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., inaugural dean of 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 research university. Several months later, construction begins on medical school buildings designed with elements to support the well-being of occupants and foster collaboration. The innovative buildings ultimately earn recognition for sustainability. In July, UT Austin, Central Health and the Community Care Collaborative sign an affiliation agreement, which formalizes the relationship among the three entities as well as the transfer of $35 million per year to support the Dell Medical School.
At the start of the year, Dell Med launches graduate medical education programs with more than 600 residents and faculty prior to the school’s inaugural match day. On the heels of preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the school kicks off undergraduate medical student recruitment in the summer.
Community leaders announce the creation of Capital City Innovation, Inc., a non-profit to foster the development of an innovation district anchored by Dell Medical School. Founding members include The University of Texas at Austin, Central Health and Ascension Seton. In June, the medical school welcomes its first class of 50 students — who all learned of their acceptance through a phone call from Dean Clay Johnston — and opens its Health Learning Building.
Ascension Seton opens the Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, the primary teaching hospital for Dell Medical School, in May as a replacement to the aging University Medical Center Brackenridge. In the summer, students in Dell Med’s inaugural class start providing care in hospitals and clinics around Austin as part of clinical clerkships. UT Health Austin, Dell Med’s innovative clinical practice, begins seeing patients in October.
The school’s inaugural class enters the signature Growth Year, when students work across disciplines to improve health in Central Texas. UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center together launch the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, providing local families with world-class care close to home. The Value Institute for Health and Care begins accepting applications for a first-of-its-kind Master of Science in Health Care Transformation, jointly offered by Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business.
Dell Medical School announces the nation’s first Department of Health Social Work within a medical school. Dean Clay Johnston marks five years of progress and declares “the state of our school is strong” during the first State of Our School address. In June, Dell Med welcomes the Class of 2023, taking the school to full enrollment for the first time. In December, the school’s Design Institute for Health collaborates with the School of Design and Creative Technologies in The University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts to launch a first-of its-kind Master of Arts in Design in Health.