The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at HoustonThe University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
November 20, 2010 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed every other Friday via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback via e-mail or comments.

What a great turnout we had at the Medical School’s 40th anniversary celebration last week. 

The day got off to a “chilly” but patriotic start with the inaugural flag-raising on the new Medical School flagpoles, which were a gift to the school marking our 40th anniversary. Among the flags was an historical Medical School seal flag that flew for one day only in celebration of the occasion. It was a proud moment to watch all of the flags fly as our own Dr. Rebecca Girardet, associate professor of pediatrics, sang the national anthem. 

During our lunchtime celebration, I was pleased to see so many familiar faces who have done so much to make this school what it is today -- including students, faculty, staff, alumni, members of the UTHealth Development Board, the elected officials who support us in Austin and Washington, our clinical partners from Memorial Hermann and the Harris County Hospital District, and leaders of the school both past and present.

Several of our former deans were in attendance, including Dr. Cheves Smythe, Dr. Louis Faillace, Dr. John Ribble, Dr. Max Buja, and Dr. Jerry Wolinsky. I am grateful for their leadership and vision. We were honored to have Dr. Smythe tell us why he came here to build this medical school and about the opportunities and challenges he faced.

President Kaiser and Dr. Ken Shine lent support through their presence and remarks -- both mentioning the incredible accomplishments this school has achieved in these short 40 years. Our alumni speaker, Dr. Chip Souba, is a 1978 graduate of our school and now serves as the dean of Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. Souba expressed his gratitude for the graduate education and resident training he received at our school, and stated that he is tremendously impressed by the growth of all our programs.

Looking back on this school’s history is an incredible testament to the people who were here at the beginning -- the people who started with very little but who gave greatly of themselves to build this school. Imagine, starting a school without a building, without a faculty, without students – what a challenge. What they have built is simply amazing – this robust, powerful Medical School that teaches the next generation of accomplished physicians, that delivers unparalleled clinical care for the sickest patients in our community and beyond, and that is at the forefront of important discoveries related to health and disease.

This school was founded with a starting class of 19 students, and today we are the seventh largest medical school in the nation – with a class size of 230 and a total of 948 students and 900 residents. We began with nine departments, and today our school has 23 departments and 24 centers. And back in 1970, the school operated out of a suite of offices in the Jesse Jones Library Building before moving to its first home in the then two-story John Freeman Building. Today, where the Freeman Building stood, we have a new building that houses six stories of dedicated research space adjacent to our nine-story Medical School Building. Our faculty were only 25 in 1971; today, we can count on the talents of over 1,000 faculty with 450 new recruitments in the past three years. Grants and contracts were just over $1 million in 1972; the research portfolio today is at $150 million. Dean Smythe approved an operating budget of $4,351,848 with an income goal of $650,000 for the faculty clinical practice. Today, our operating budget is over $520 million and the goals for our group practice are … well, we are very grateful to our clinical faculty.

But it’s not just about growth in numbers and quantity. It’s about quality and the values that comprise our institution.

We are building upon a culture of quality -- the new health care that only academic medicine can provide and that will drive our success in the future. This new structure of health care quality will not only impact patients but also will provide a new model of education for our students and house staff. We are making this an innovative priority for our institution in partnership with our clinical sites, and we are already realizing remarkable improvements through such areas as our Clinical Safety and Effectiveness Program.

I also would like to comment on the success of our group practice, which has made tremendous strides -- posting a 40 percent growth over the past three years. Our school’s accomplishments are critically dependent upon the strength of our group practice, especially in the face of our new economy driven by uncertain health care reform. I have tremendous confidence in our administration, led by Kevin Dillon, and I know our school will remain strong.

When I look back on the past 15 years that I have been privileged to spend at our Medical School, I am amazed at the progress and achievements I have witnessed. I am so proud to be a part of what has become The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Thank you again to all of our guest speakers and attendees, the committee who organized such a special event, and to all of you who have helped to make our school the great institution that it is today.

Have a great weekend,


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