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Howe announces decision to leave UTHSC presidency (2-1-00)

John P. Howe, III, M.D., president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio since 1985, today announced that he would leave the position of president effective January 1, 2001.

In a prepared statement, Howe said that his 15 years in this position is one of the longest terms a president of an academic health center has ever served. Howe said that the university is better positioned than at any time in the past to hand the reins of leadership over to a new president.

"This past year we have secured the largest endowment for cancer research in the history of the nation, we have brought on a new dean to lead the medical school, we have initiated the expansion of a Regional Academic Health Center to provide professional health education throughout the South Texas/Border Region, and we have had the most successful fund raising year in our history," Howe added. (See Other releases link in left hand column of this Web page to access Dr. Howe's Statement.)

Tom Loeffler, chairman of the Health Affairs Committee of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, said, "In the annals of Texas medicine and medical education, Dr. Howe’s service as president of the Health Science Center will be seen as an enduring contribution for the betterment of all Texans. His visionary leadership has enabled the institution to offer the finest health care services to the people of South Texas, to contribute significantly to the advancement of medical science through cutting-edge research, and to provide first-class educational programs for new generations of health professionals. The U.T. System is deeply grateful to President Howe for his unsurpassed record of service."

During the 15 years of Howe’s presidency, research funding at the Health Science Center has grown from $32 million to $124 million annually; the budget has grown from $134 million to $330 million; 12 new buildings or building expansions have been added to the campus; more than 10,000 students have graduated and are serving as physicians, nurses, dentists, research scientists and allied health professionals; the dental school has been ranked the nation’s top dental school; and the UTHSC-sponsored San Antonio Cancer Institute achieved the rank of a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest ranking that the National Cancer Institute awards, and one of only two such Centers in the state.

"Perhaps most importantly," Howe added, "we have led the transition as the biosciences moved into the #1 spot as the city’s leading economic generator. We may never again have this convergence of opportunity and resources which gives a new leader the opening to put his or her own stamp on the next phase of growth and progress.

"Because the legislative session which begins early next year is so important to this university, it is my hope that a new leader will be named and appointed even prior to January 1, so that we will have time to work together for a smooth and effective transition," Howe said.

Dr. William H. Cunningham, chancellor of the U.T. System, said, "Under the leadership of President Howe, the Health Science Center at San Antonio has been transformed into the major medical campus for South Texas. He has embraced the state’s regional mandate for this institution, overseeing such critically important developments as the first major health professions educational program in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, as well as the Health Science Center expansion in Laredo. He also has been instrumental in establishing the major regional academic medical campus in the Valley. From its solid base here in San Antonio, the Health Science Center is reaching out with innovative programs to help secure improved health and a better quality of life for millions of Texans. In so doing, the institution has also emerged as one of the nation’s most important comprehensive centers for health education, research, and patient care. It has been a great honor to be associated with an academic and medical leader of the caliber of John Howe, and we thank him for all the great things he has done."

Howe said that one of his proudest legacies was the opening of the Texas Research Park, which is anchored by the Health Science Center’s Institute of Biotechnology. A second UTHSC building, The South Texas Centers for Biology in Medicine, will open this summer in the Park and construction on a third UTHSC building, which will serve as a national center for aging research, is scheduled to begin next year.

"This is the right decision at this time in my life," Howe said. "And for the new leadership which the Board of Regents will select, it is the right time as well, for we will collectively hand that person a great research university, with outstanding human capital poised to enter its greatest decades."

Howe said that the investment made in the Health Science Center by the Board of Regents and by the private sector has positioned the academic health center to continue its rise to one of the nation’s preeminent research institutions. "I am truly grateful to the Chancellors and the Regents with whom I have served, for the confidence they have placed in our Health Science Center leadership, in our outstanding faculty, staff and students and for the investment they have made in this region."

Dr. Charles B. Mullins, executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the U.T. System, said, "Texas medicine has, in John Howe, one of its most effective leaders and spokesmen. His achievements at the Health Science Center are certainly impressive – such as his outstanding success in recruiting highly talented faculty, developing funding for major facility and program expansion, and promoting the establishment of a federally designated comprehensive cancer center here on the campus. Another notable achievement that will enhance the lives of all Texans for generations is the development of the Texas Diabetes Center for care of diabetes patients and research into causes and treatment of this disease, which is one of the most serious health concerns of the region. In addition to his leadership of this institution and on behalf of the region, John has also been one of the most outstanding leaders of the medical profession. He has the distinction of being the only president of an academic health center to be elected president of the Texas Medical Association. John has brought great distinction to every endeavor in which he has been involved. We are grateful to him for a job well done."

Contact: Judy Wolf, Vice President for University Relations