The Texas Legislature has authorized the Health Science Center at UT Tyler to allocate its resources to attain accreditation of a doctor of medicine program.
The accreditation is a step needed to create a new medical school, and the authorization will soon be on its way to Governor Abbott's desk for signature.
The authorization is included in Senate Bill 1, the state's biennial budget.
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Once it is approved, the new medical school will be the seventh in the University of Texas System and the first in Northeast Texas.
UT institutions award nearly 15,000 health-related degrees and certificates annually, including more than half of the state's medical degrees.
The UT System Board of Regents, led by Chairman Kevin P. Eltife, approved a proposal in February 2020 to launch efforts to establish a medical school in Tyler.
The new school aims to address the shortage of health care professionals in the region.
By adding a medical school to the academic health and residency programs available in Tyler, future UT physicians will be able to obtain medical education without leaving the area and remain in the region to live and practice.
After the Board's plan was announced in 2020, the East Texas Medical Center Foundation donated $80 million to assist with medical school planning and operational costs.
UT officials have since worked with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Legislature, and other licensing and accrediting agencies to bring the school to fruition.
Pending the Governor's signature of Senate Bill 1, UT Tyler will work to complete the accreditation process with hopes of having the school fully operational by June 2023.
"Texas has the proud distinction of being the nation's best state for business," Eltife said. "Access to excellent health care and higher education is an important factor for businesses and families who wish to make Northeast Texas their permanent home. Our new medical school will be a significant boost to our region's future. The Texas Legislature's support of this initiative to date, under the leadership of Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Speaker Phelan, is deeply appreciated."
The legislation has received strong backing from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jane Nelson and Finance Committee members Senator Joan Huffman and Senator Robert Nichols.
Additionally, House Appropriations Chairman Greg Bonnen carried support in the House, while Senator Bryan Hughes and the entire East Texas legislative delegation rallied early endorsements for the school.
"I am especially grateful to Chairman Eltife and President Calhoun, who well understood the need for this medical school, and their vision was enthusiastically embraced by the regents, the community and the Texas Legislature," UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said. "This recent action by our state leaders is key to health and prosperity in the region, and the UT System is fully committed to its great success."