DALLAS -- The University of Texas plans to quickly form a steering committee, hire an inaugural dean and recruit faculty members for a new medical school that was approved by Austin voters in last week’s election.
Steven Leslie, UT’s executive vice president and provost, said that accreditation usually takes about three years. The university plans to enroll the first class of about 50 students in 2015 at the earliest.
UT also needs approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approval to create the new Austin medical school.
The UT System Board of Regents voted unanimously in May to establish the school, contingent on local voters’ approval of $35 million a year in tax support.
Proposition 1, which provided tax revenue from Travis County, including Austin, won 55 percent approval in the Nov. 6 election.
The campaign divided Austin’s medical community, with backing from the Seton Health system and opposition from St. David’s Health, which saw the tax measure as a possible threat to its public support for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
While state medical schools in Texas receive bond money, free land and other assistance, last week’s vote was the first time that the creation of such a school was dependant on local voters approving higher taxes.
Other funding for the new school includes backing from the UT System’s endowment and from the Seton system, the area’s largest hospital system.
Although Austin has the main campus for UT, the system’s medical schools are located in Galveston and Dallas.
With Texas A&M University opening a medical campus in the northern suburb of Round Rock, UT officials sought to build the often discussed medical school in Austin.
“This is a perfect example of how a public-private partnership can work for the benefit of society,” said Gene Powell, chairman of the UT regents.
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, a former Austin mayor, was one of the primary advocates for the medical school.