University of Texas leaders outline timeline for new medical program


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 10:59 AM

AUSTIN -- At the University of Texas, it's business time.

"We here at the university are enormously grateful for your trust and your support," was the message Wednesday morning from university president Bill Powers to Travis County voters.

A day after voters approved a tax increase to support a new medical school and teaching hospital at the University of Texas, Powers and other university leaders met with media to outline the next steps in putting the plan in motion.

"One of the first things that we're going to need to do is to put plans together to submit to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to get official approval for the medical school," said University of Texas Provost Steven Leslie. "We already have it approved by our University of Texas System and the Board of Regents, so that's of course a big step and we're deeply appreciative."

The first step will also include forming a steering committee consisting of faculty, health care leaders and stakeholders, charged with moving the ball forward both with the medical school and new teaching hospital to replace the aging UMC Brackenridge.

"I want to get this started right away," Leslie told KVUE. "Because the sooner we get the steering committee formed, the sooner we'll be able to identify plans to go after the inaugural dean."

The university will add two new buildings in addition to the new teaching hospital. A research building and a separate building for classrooms and administration will be funded by the University of Texas System. The two buildings will be built nearby the new hospital, which is planned to stand near the current location of UMC Brackenridge and the Irwin Center.

The longest process could be applying for accreditation of the new medical program, a process which could take about three years. Powers hopes the inaugural class of roughly 50 students and 35 additional faculty could be ready by 2015 and said the university plans to do everything possible to expedite the process.

"If we're going to have class in 2015, we'd have to sometime next year get going on breaking the ground," Powers said. "That is very aggressive."

A federal lawsuit filed by opponents alleging the ballot language of Central Health Prop 1 unlawfully promoted its passage still awaits a November 14 hearing in Austin. Taxpayers will see the five-cent rate increase, roughly an additional $100 per year on an average $200,000 home, beginning with their 2014 tax bill.