- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The University of Texas has named a dean for its medical school, the first to be established by a tier-one university in decades, according to a published report.

Clay Johnston will assume his new role as head of UT’s Dell Medical School on March 1. The 49-year-old Johnston currently is associate vice chancellor of research for the University of California, San Francisco - considered one of the nation’s leading health science centers.

Johnston will oversee construction, hiring, curriculum development, admissions and other matters that must be concluded before the Dell school enrolls its first students in fall 2016, the Austin American-Statesman reported (https://bit.ly/1aJitXP ). Fifty students will be admitted annually for at least the first four years.

Johnston said it will take 20 years for the school to achieve broad excellence and prominence. He told the American-Statesman that he was drawn to Austin by the prospect of leading a medical school unconstrained by tradition and habit.

“It just opens all kinds of opportunities to do it right. I’m very excited to move to a new platform and create a medical school that looks like one for the new century rather than the last century,” he said. “And I hope we train more primary care docs than specialists.”

Johnston will be paid $675,000 in his new role. The man who introduced him at a news conference Tuesday, UT President Bill Powers, is paid $624,350 a year.

Johnston said he envisions the Dell school adopting an approach in which pharmacists, nurses and other health care workers, not just doctors, are integral parts of the mix. Also being planned are a new teaching hospital, research and education buildings, and an approach to caring for indigent patients that officials say promises to improve their health while cutting costs.

UT administrators will be pushing for students to learn many of their lessons independently or in small groups, with less class time devoted to lectures and more time available for discussions and problem-solving.

Seton Healthcare Family has agreed to build, own and operate a $295 million teaching hospital on university-owned land adjacent to where UT will construct a research building, a medical office building and an education and administration building. UT’s governing board has committed $25 million a year and an additional $5 million for the first eight years. The Travis County health care district has pledged to channel $35 million a year from a voter-approved property tax increase to the medical school.

“We now have a world-class dean to lead a world-class medical school,” said state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who has been a leader in efforts to establish the school.


Information from: Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com

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