Momentum building for UT Austin medical school

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With Senator Kirk Watson (left) and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell (right)

Many of you know that we are steadily building a coalition to support a medical school at UT Austin, and we have had several major developments lately.

Last weekend, the Seton Healthcare Family, the largest health care provider in Austin, committed $250 million to build a teaching hospital that would be a key component of a UT Austin medical school education. This commitment is subject to a couple of board votes by Seton and the national nonprofit health care system to which it belongs, but no problems getting final approval are expected at this time.

On Monday, I joined Senator Kirk Watson, who is leading the effort to bring a medical school to Austin with a 10-point plan, and other community leaders at the Lance Armstrong Foundation headquarters in Austin to help launch a new educational initiative — Healthy ATX.

Healthy ATX is an online forum for dialogue about advances in health care and medical education in Austin, and Central Texans are being asked to share their own health care stories on the site to increase awareness about the need to expand health care excellence and education Austin.

A world-class medical school in Austin would benefit our university and the community, and with these important commitments we are one step closer to realizing a momentous development in the University’s history.

What starts here changes the world.

Margaret Berry honored on campus

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Last Friday, it was my pleasure to help dedicate the Margaret C. Berry Atrium at the Student Activity Center on campus. Many of you know Dr. Berry personally through her work as UT’s dean of women, her sponsorship of many student organizations, and the popular histories she has written of our university.

The depth of feeling for Dr. Berry, now 96, was evident everywhere, from the three busloads of her fellow residents at Westminster Manor in attendance to Texas Exes of practically every vintage who returned to campus to honor her. The Longhorn Band and cheerleaders set the perfect stage for Dr. Berry, who has dedicated her life to so many student organizations that just reading a list of them took some two minutes.

We were honored to have Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, both UT alumni, on hand to honor Dr. Berry, along with Debra Law McKeown, Steve Poizner, Rick Potter, Cyndi Powell, and many others who led the alumni and student initiatives to honor Dr. Berry.

Her record of service to UT students has few equals. Congratulations, Margaret!

Hook ’em Horns!