In 2013, Michael and Susan Dell announced a $60 million, 10-year commitment to help make Austin a center of health care excellence by supporting the creation of Dell Medical School. Of that number, $50 million was invested directly to the creation and formation of the medical school. Here’s what they had to say at that time. Below is an update of where the medical school is today.
Starting from a blank slate can be a paralyzing task and an invigorating opportunity. When the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation committed $50 million in the medical school in 2013, it was the exciting culmination of a number of investments in the Central Texas medical community since 2003 – from supporting discovery and investigation at the lab bench, to building best-in-class teams to treat local patients and families, to funding intervention work in public health at the systems and community level. We knew the opportunity was enormous, and that the risks were, too.
A year into the partnership, we threw most of our milestones for the grant out the window. Building buildings in time, meeting accreditation requirements, and welcoming an inaugural group of medical students in 2016 seemed like a tall order initially, and virtually inevitable by the time the team leading the work got started. To be sure, tremendous efforts have been, and continue to be, expended to accomplish these necessary wins, but we have heightened our expectations based on what has been accomplished thus far and the team leading the charge. And we are not the only ones.
It is also the innovation, energy, and commitment of a dynamic leadership team that is not just promising a new vision of health, but delivering on it.
A tremendous faculty and staff are joining the Dell Med team in Austin. As we meet the new leadership, we can’t help but ask why they have left positions of promise, distinction, and seniority to come to a place where so much is still ambiguous and to be designed. And we’ve learned that in so many cases, it’s the possibility that has brought them here. The rare opportunity to be part of redesigning the way health is imagined from the ground up – not as occurring only within the walls of a traditional care settings, but across partners, fully integrated within communities, and fully conscious of environmental, social, and economic variables that can affect health outcomes.
It is also the innovation, energy, and commitment of a dynamic leadership team that is not just promising a new vision of health, but delivering on it. A team that has the courage to search beyond how traditional pieces of healthcare infrastructure and relationships can be shifted around to ask instead: Disregarding the obstacles of the status quo, what should the system look like? It is disruption that makes way for the best of content areas like business, design, technology, and innovation to be integrated. It makes way for a new ecosystem that recognizes the value proposition of a connected system of care, efficient in its delivery, centered around the patient, and continually building the case, and the opportunity, for prevention and wellness.
And in the midst of all of this excitement and energy, the rising buildings of glass and steel on a newly straightened Red River Street, are the physical reminder that our first year class is soon to arrive. Future physician leaders, they accept the mantle of challenging the status quo and building teams and partnerships that relentlessly and urgently continue the transformation of health – first in Austin and then well beyond.
The first medical school to be built on a Tier I level research campus in decades. A community supportive in their words and in their personal financial investment. Cross sectoral partners learning to speak each other’s language, leverage each other’s learnings, and catalyze health for the individual, the family, the community, and the population. Incredible thought leaders coming to Austin to be part of a transformation we will almost certainly look back on as a key inflection point in our nation’s history. The Dell Medical School team is seizing the day and running full speed ahead to design a healthier future.