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Statement by John P. Howe, III, M.D.
President

The University of Texas
Health Science Center
at San Antonio

(2-01-00)

This past year has been one of the most challenging and exhilarating years of my life: exhilarating on the professional front, as the Health Science Center has reached new milestones of achievements ... and challenging on the physical front, as I recovered from an accident last summer that shattered my pelvis. I am pleased to report that I am well on the way to full recovery.

It also has been a year during which some of my most ambitious goals for the Health Science Center have been met - and surpassed.

Last year:

  • We secured the largest endowment in the history of cancer research: $200 million to support the nation's premier Children's Cancer Research Center;

  • We secured a full ten year reaccreditation of our Health Science Center, with glowing reports and commendations;

  • We achieved a seamless transition with a new dean of the nursing school, in a beautifully expanded building and a new dean of the school of allied health sciences, also in a brand new building

  • We launched the Regional Academic Health Center, with sites throughout the South Texas/Border Region, an expansion that will usher in opportunities that will forever change the future of that rapidly growing region;

  • We attracted a new dean of the medical school who will take this school into the highest levels of excellence in education and research;

  • We had the most successful fund raising year in our history, with private investment in our university totaling $25 million in new gifts and pledges.

  • We expanded our research presence in the Texas Research Park with one new building and starting yet another, which helps ensure that the growth in the Park will one day be reminiscent of the growth of this medical center.

From all perspectives, it has been a year of unparalleled progress.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of my presidency of this outstanding institution. That 15th anniversary not only marks one of the longest terms a president of an academic health center has ever served, it also occurs at a time when I have had occasion to think and reflect about the future. It's amazing how much time there is for introspection when you have been confined for several weeks because of a shattered pelvic bone!

Very few people stay in a role such as this for 15 years, and I have been privately thinking for some time about the next challenge I want to undertake in my life. But my recovery afforded me a rare opportunity: and that was time to think ... about what we've accomplished - about new opportunities and challenges I wanted to undertake ... and I decided that today, on the conclusion of 15 years as President, I would announce that on January 1 of next year, I would leave the Health Science Center presidency and very proudly hand to a new leader the reins of an academic health center that is better positioned than at any time in its past. There is a 'dovetailing of events' ... the new $200 million endowment, the new deans, the new RAHC expansion throughout the region, several new buildings just about to come on line ... all of those things happening at once make this the perfect time for a smooth transition.

During the past 15 years, our research funding has grown from $32 million to $124 million annually; our budget has grown from $134 million to $330 million and we have added 12 new buildings and building expansions. More than 10,000 students have graduated from our schools to become the state's physicians, nurses, dentists, research scientists and allied health professionals. We have had an economic impact of about $10 billion on this region ... and perhaps most importantly, 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. And because of the importance of the legislative session which begins early next year, I am hopeful a new president can be named and appointed even prior to January 1, so that we may work together to ensure a smooth and effective transition.

The investment made in us by The University of Texas System and by the private sector has positioned this 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.

Governor Connally once remarked that if you look at where economic development occurs in this state, it centers around where The University of Texas places its campuses and its resources.

This community is a great partner with UT, and I appreciate the confidence the UT System has shown in us over the past 15 years as you have made record investments in this city.

Churchill once commented that "there is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction." This is the right direction at the right time in my life. 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.