Health inequities are the major challenge to improving health both locally and nationally, and they have been a key focus for the Dell Medical School since our earliest days. As the school progresses through start-up mode, we want to ensure that our organizational structure and budgets reflect the scope of this challenge, as well as the opportunities to address disparities in Austin and beyond.
As such, we have decided to broaden the leadership role in this area to include all aspects of health and health care under a new title of Associate Dean of Health Equity. This new leader will direct a team focused on the wide range of forms that health disparities take — in this community and elsewhere — while working across the organization to align and bolster departments such as population health, women’s health, psychiatry and surgery and perioperative care that are already increasing access to care for people who have been too-long denied it.
Given this, Dr. Bill Lawson has decided to build on his vital mental health-focused work in the Austin community and focus on academic pursuits; he will give up his current position of Associate Dean for Health Disparities on September 1. He will continue his work as a very distinguished professor of psychiatry at UT, a professor of psychology at Huston-Tillotson, and assistant to the dean on community engagement in brain health. He will retain a role with Integral Care providing consultative leadership and helping build community-based programs.
We will begin a search for someone to fill the new position, and I’ve asked Mini Kahlon, Dell Med’s Vice Dean for Strategy and Partnerships, to chair that search. We remain committed to our partnership with Huston-Tillotson University — as exemplified by the creation of the Sandra Joy Anderson Community Health & Wellness Center — and we look forward to strengthening this significant relationship in the coming years.
The school and community will continue to benefit from Bill and his work. He has achieved a tremendous amount and continues to be recognized with major awards for his achievements in mental health. This whole community thanks him for his work and the spotlight he’s put on health disparities over the past two years, and we look forward to building on this foundation as we rethink the way people access care and revolutionize the ways they get and stay healthy.