Put quite simply, for me, the vision and opportunity at Dell Medical School is just too compelling to miss. There are so many unique aspects to what Dean Johnston and the med school team are envisioning that it is difficult to know where to start.
First, and most unique in my mind, is the commitment by the community to fund the new medical school. At the outset, this sets up a relationship between the medical school and the community that is, to my knowledge, unprecedented in academic medicine. This commitment by Travis County taxpayers creates a responsibility on the part of Dell Medical School to deliver real value and a return on investment in terms of measurably improving the health of the community. Importantly, this partnership provides a level of engagement and commitment that creates a stable foundation on which the school can develop and thrive. In addition, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation’s leadership in this regard is exemplary and, at this early stage, I can readily see how their involvement sets a standard that has already enhanced the school’s connection with Austin, which will propel and nurture its success.
The support of the people of Travis County is not the only commitment that differentiates the Dell Medical School. One of the world’s premier institutions of higher learning is completely engaged in this effort, which means that all of the well-resourced, nationally recognized health researchers at The University of Texas at Austin can now be more directly connected to the academic clinical platform that the medical school and its clinical partners provide. I am extremely excited about working in the very stimulating environment at UT Austin, collaborating with the other UT schools and colleges to create new educational programs, and enhancing and developing broad and deep research collaborations across the clinical enterprise.
Other critical partners in this effort are the Seton Healthcare Family and Central Health. Both have well-established health care delivery systems and are committed to teaching. Their willingness to partner with Dell Medical School provides a great starting point, from which the school’s academic mission can be further advanced. I’m eager to begin working closely with all of the providers in the region to help coordinate our services, promote a healthier population and provide an innovative and stimulating learning environment for our students, trainees, faculty and researchers.
Finally, Austin’s culture of entrepreneurship and “can do” attitude offers an ideal atmosphere for experimentation and innovation in academic medicine. While there are inevitable challenges ahead, I am convinced that there is no better opportunity to redefine how a medical school delivers on the promises of improving the community’s health, teaching the next generation of physician leaders and – through innovative and collaborative discovery – becoming a model for the nation.