Robert Cullick

As the Dell Medical School continues to search for its inaugural dean, UT has selected an architect to design the first phase of buildings for the school.

According to UT medical school spokesman Robert Cullick, Page Southerland Page and ZGF Architects have been selected to design two of the four new buildings on the complex. The firms will design the research building and the medical office building.

“It’s a very competitive process,” Cullick said. “It’s a premier project. We had a lot of different participants from around the world.”

According to Cullick, the University was attracted to the local and outside perspectives brought by the two firms teaming up on the project. Page Southerland Page, an Austin-based firm, has designed buildings for the Baylor College of Medicine and the UT Southwestern Medical Center. Page Southerland Page has also worked on several buildings for three other UT System schools: UT-Arlington, UT-Dallas and UT-El Paso. ZGF Architects, based in Portland, Ore., has worked on projects for the University of California - Berkeley, Stanford University and the University of Southern California.

Citing an agreement with UT, Page Southerland Page declined to comment on winning the assignment.

UT is in the process of selecting a firm to design the education and administration building. According to Cullick, the University expects to select an architect in the coming weeks. Cullick said the University chose to separate the project into two assignments in order to ensure the buildings will be completed by the school’s fall 2016 opening date. 

Seton Healthcare Family selected architecture firm HKS to design the $295 million teaching hospital which will replace University Medical Center Brackenridge in June.

Cullick said the selection of the medical school’s inaugural dean will be the next major step in the school’s development. According to Cullick, the University will review applications during the fall semester.

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The 2012 master plan, which will help shape the University’s growth for the next 25 to 30 years, includes plans for the new UT med school area, pictured above. The master plan proposes the possibility of removing the Frank Erwin Center.

UT administrators are scouring far and wide to find an inaugural dean for the Dell Medical School — a position that will fundamentally shape the school and determine its role in the Austin community. 

A search committee of UT faculty, students and industry leaders began accepting applications and nominations for the dean position this month. Applications will be reviewed this fall and officials expect the position to be filled by early 2014. The school is set to begin classes starting in fall 2016. 

A dean has his or her hand in everything from shaping general policy to providing insight on specific student and faculty situations.

“On a typical day, I might have a meeting with a small group of [senior officials or faculty], hold a series of conversations with individuals about any number of relevant and immediate issues — for example, hiring of a new senior faculty member — approve a number of faculty actions, such as salary changes, and discuss, in general terms, curricular changes,” said Francisco González-Scarano, the dean of the UT School of Medicine in San Antonio.

UT’s Dell Medical School is seeking a dean with previous academic medical experience who has a record of interdisciplinary research, management experience in running medical schools and experience communicating with political actors, private sector leaders and the media, according to a job posting released this month.

“The inaugural dean will have a tremendous opportunity to define the culture, priorities and strategies of the school in a way that doesn’t exist anywhere in the country,” said Robert Cullick, spokesman for the Dell Medical School. “It’s not only a new medical school, but one with a tremendous commitment to research.”

The dean will also be responsible for managing partnerships between UT, the Seton Healthcare Family and Travis County Central Health. Seton runs several hospitals in Austin and has committed $295 million to build a teaching hospital for students enrolled at the new medical school.

Central Health is a county organization that works to ensure Austin’s poor have access to health care. Voters last year approved a property tax increase to support the new medical school and teaching hospital, among other health projects.

Robert Messing, vice provost for biomedical sciences and chair of the search committee, said some work now being done to get the school running would be postponed until the new dean is hired.

“Several decisions will need to be made in the meantime to keep the project on schedule, but we are planning for flexibility to allow the inaugural dean plenty of opportunity to shape the program,” Messing said.

Cordell Cunningham, a medical student at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston, said the most successful deans are the deans who work with students, such as UTMB’s Dean Danny Jacobs. 

“He’s had a couple of sessions where he talks to students and listens to them,” Cunningham said. “I think stuff like that’s important.”

There is palpable excitement in Austin for this school and everyone wants it to succeed, González-Scarano said. Although maintaining active community participation is vital in running medical schools, this can also lead to challenges.

“All medical schools have multiple missions, and the stakeholders often have slightly different orders of priorities,” González-Scarano said. “The most important challenge the new dean will face is negotiating through these nuances and maintaining all of the constituencies happy while at the same time advancing the school.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, an original version of this story stated Seton pledged $245 million for a new teaching hospital. Seton has actually pledged $295 million.

The 2012 master plan, which will help shape the University’s growth for the next 25 to 30 years, includes plans for the new UT med school area, pictured above. The master plan proposes the possibility of removing the Frank Erwin Center.

UT administrators are scouring far and wide to find an inaugural dean for the Dell Medical School — a position that will fundamentally shape the school and determine its role in the Austin community. 

A search committee of UT faculty, students and industry leaders began accepting applications and nominations for the dean position this month. Applications will be reviewed this fall and officials expect the position to be filled by early 2014. The school is set to begin classes starting in fall 2016. 

A dean has his or her hand in everything from shaping general policy to providing insight on specific student and faculty situations.

“On a typical day, I might have a meeting with a small group of [senior officials or faculty], hold a series of conversations with individuals about any number of relevant and immediate issues — for example, hiring of a new senior faculty member — approve a number of faculty actions, such as salary changes, and discuss, in general terms, curricular changes,” said Francisco González-Scarano, the dean of the UT School of Medicine in San Antonio.

UT’s Dell Medical School is seeking a dean with previous academic medical experience who has a record of interdisciplinary research, management experience in running medical schools and experience communicating with political actors, private sector leaders and the media, according to a job posting released this month.

“The inaugural dean will have a tremendous opportunity to define the culture, priorities and strategies of the school in a way that doesn’t exist anywhere in the country,” said Robert Cullick, spokesman for the Dell Medical School. “It’s not only a new medical school, but one with a tremendous commitment to research.”

The dean will also be responsible for managing partnerships between UT, the Seton Healthcare Family and Travis County Central Health. Seton runs several hospitals in Austin and has committed $295 million to build a teaching hospital for students enrolled at the new medical school.

Central Health is a county organization that works to ensure Austin’s poor have access to health care. Voters last year approved a property tax increase to support the new medical school and teaching hospital, among other health projects.

Robert Messing, vice provost for biomedical sciences and chair of the search committee, said some work now being done to get the school running would be postponed until the new dean is hired.

“Several decisions will need to be made in the meantime to keep the project on schedule, but we are planning for flexibility to allow the inaugural dean plenty of opportunity to shape the program,” Messing said.

Cordell Cunningham, a medical student at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston, said the most successful deans are the deans who work with students, such as UTMB’s Dean Danny Jacobs. 

“He’s had a couple of sessions where he talks to students and listens to them,” Cunningham said. “I think stuff like that’s important.”

There is palpable excitement in Austin for this school and everyone wants it to succeed, González-Scarano said. Although maintaining active community participation is vital in running medical schools, this can also lead to challenges.

“All medical schools have multiple missions, and the stakeholders often have slightly different orders of priorities,” González-Scarano said. “The most important challenge the new dean will face is negotiating through these nuances and maintaining all of the constituencies happy while at the same time advancing the school.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, an original version of this story stated Seton pledged $245 million for a new teaching hospital. Seton has actually pledged $295 million.

UT officials are considering a location near University Medical Center Brackenridge for the Dell School of Medicine. The medical school steering committee will continue to meet to make a more definite decision on the location.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

UT officials are looking for possible locations for the new medical school facilities in the general Brackenridge area south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

UT spokesman Robert Cullick said the area that includes University Medical Center Brackenridge, which is owned by Central Health and leased to the Seton Healthcare Family, is under consideration because of the close proximity to the current medical center and the main campus.

“The University is intently looking at that area — looking at facilities that need to be constructed including education, administration and research facilities.” Cullick said. “They’re trying to decide where these things can go.”

Cullick said although the University has selected the prospective location, no decisions have been made for the school, which will be called the Dell School of Medicine.

“Something might go here and some years down the path another building could be built. It all will be part of the master plan that is being developed,” Cullick said.

Cullick said the master plan for the design and construction has not been fully developed by the University.

The UT System Board of Regents approved the medical school in May 2012. In November, Travis County voters approved a tax increase to help fund the school.

The school was named in honor of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation following a $50 million donation announced Jan. 30.

Lisa Meyer, administrative associate to Robert Messing, the medical school steering committee chairman and recently hired vice provost for biomedical sciences, said although the location has not been specifically determined, the steering committee will meet several times in the coming week to make a more definite decision.

Cullick said the medical school and teaching hospital will work closely with Seton Healthcare Family, which is committing $250 million dollars to replace the University Medical Center Brackenridge, to have an equally up-to-date facility. UT’s medical school and teaching hospital will be funded by the UT System, although there is not yet an estimated cost.

“They will add more residency slots to provide more opportunities for students in the area to continue their education here,” Cullick said. “They currently have 200 students in residency and they would open it up a little more, and hopefully let in more UT students.”

Rosie Mendoza, chairwoman of the Central Health Board of Managers, said UT, Seton and Central Health are working to find an agreeable location through a memorandum of understanding between the entities. The Central Health board will meet with UT officials when the master plan has been developed.

“Our executive staff at Central Health has met with UT for the initial planning,” Mendoza said. “I think what they’re hoping for is to build a huge medical school campus, in one whole area. The specifics we do not know yet.”

Published on February 8, 2013 as "Med school site search narrows". 

This article was corrected after its original posting to clarify University Medical Center - Brackenridge is owned by Central Health and leased to Seton Healthcare Family.