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UNT Health Science Center - Our History

The UNT Health Science Center began when the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) accepted its first students in 1970. Founders were D.D. Beyer, DO; George Luibel, DO; and Carl Everett, DO. The first class of doctors of osteopathic medicine graduated in 1974. Under the leadership of TCOM's first president, Marion E. Coy, DO, the school earned full accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Professional Education and full recognition from the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners. Coy opened TCOM's first two community health care clinics - one urban, one rural. He also traveled constantly during his presidency, sharing TCOM's story with the public and legislators, and attended every meeting of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He successfully rallied statewide support, and in May 1975, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 216, which made TCOM a state-assisted medical school under the jurisdiction of the North Texas State University Board of Regents.

Ralph L. Willard, DO, TCOM's second president, took the helm in 1981, leading the evolution of TCOM's physical presence from a renovated bowling alley and assorted leased facilities into a modern campus of significant impact in Fort Worth's renowned Cultural District. During Willard's tenure, TCOM issued goal statements that would permanently guide the school's areas of emphasis: education, research and community service. The statements defined how the people and programs of TCOM should contribute to finding solutions to America's health care problems, to preventing disease and to fostering collaborative biomedical research initiatives.

TCOM's third and longest-serving president, David M. Richards, DO, took office in 1986 and led the transformation of TCOM into a health science center with the addition of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) in 1993, a Physician Assistant Studies Program (now the Department of Physician Assistant Studies) in 1997 and the School of Public Health (SPH) in 1999. Research also thrived, and the Health Science Center developed the fastest growing academic research program in Texas. Five Institutes for Discovery were established to nurture groundbreaking research in aging and Alzheimer's disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, vision and physical medicine. The DNA/Identity Laboratory, originally funded to reduce the backlog of paternity cases pending in state courts, opened in 1990.

In 2001, Ronald R. Blanck, DO, became the Health Science Center's fourth president after serving as the highest-ranking physician in the armed forces, the surgeon general of the U.S. Army and commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command. Blanck led the expansion of all of the Health Science Center's programs and created a fourth school, the School of Health Professions (SHP). During his tenure, enrollment increased from just over 700 to more than 1,000. He established several hospital partnerships, helped bring the first federally funded community health clinic to Fort Worth and expanded biotechnology incubator activities with the city. In 2001, the national Osteopathic Research Center was founded, and the Texas Missing Persons DNA Database was established on campus. In 2002, TCOM was ranked for the first time among the top 50 medical schools for primary care by U.S. News & World Report, a distinction it has earned each year since, and the GSBS received the National Science Foundation's Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring. In 2005, the physical growth of the Health Science Center was guaranteed when Blanck oversaw the purchase of the adjacent former Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas property, which increased the campus from 16 to 33 prime acres in the heart of Fort Worth's Cultural District.

Scott B. Ransom, DO, MBA, MPH, became the UNT Health Science Center's fifth president in 2006 after a career as a physician, National Institutes of Health-funded scientist, educator, author, and administrator at the University of Michigan. Ransom drove expansion in faculty size to more than 400 and UNT Health’s clinical volume to more than 550,000 patient encounters.

Under his administration, the Master Facility Plan was approved by the UNT System Board of Regents in 2007, launching a building program that included the new 112,000-square-foot Medical Education and Training (MET) building, which received a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for meeting strict environmental standards. In addition, several community partnerships were developed, such as a combined academic pediatrics program with Cook Children's Medical Center, and the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences (TABS), a partnership between UNTHSC, UNT Denton, Fort Worth ISD and TCC Trinity River Campus for an early-college high school.

Also, several new degree and research programs were established, including the master of health care administration, and doctoral degrees in public health and physical therapy. Several centers and institutes also were established, including the Texas Prevention Institute and Institute of Applied Genetics, all part of the Health Institutes of Texas. The campus’s fifth college, the UNT System College of Pharmacy, opens in fall 2013.

Michael R. Williams, DO, MD, MBA, became the sixth president of the UNTHSC in December 2012. A Fort Worth native and 1981 graduate of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Williams previously served on the UNT System Board of Regents. In 2008, he was named CEO of Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg, Texas. Under his leadership, the hospital received numerous awards for quality, including being named one of the Nation’s Top 100 Hospitals ® by Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of health care.

Williams earned his bachelor's degree from Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, his DO from TCOM in 1981, a medical degree from Ross University, a master of business administration from Duke University, and a master's degree in Health Care Management from Harvard University.

Dr. Williams is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology in anesthesiology and critical care medicine, and is a member of the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association; Texas Medical Association; Texas Hospital Association; American College of Physician Executives; American College of Health Care Executives; and is a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. In 2013, Dr. Williams was appointed to the U.S. News & World Report "Hospital of Tomorrow" Advisory Council. He is also past vice president of the Fredericksburg Independent School District Board of Trustees.

Today, the Health Science Center has a $220 million annual budget and adds approximately $600 million into Fort Worth's economy annually. Since 2005, the number of students has rapidly grown from 1,000 to over 1,900, and research expenditures have dramatically expanded from $22 million to more than $40 million per year funded by organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and others. More than 1,400 staff, 400 plus faculty, and well over 750 adjunct faculty support the Health Science Center’s students and missions of excellence in academics, research, clinical care and community engagement.

The Health Science Center proudly serves the community through a variety of community and school outreach programs. For example, the Health Science Center founded our signature event, the annual Cowtown Marathon, co-founded Fort Worth's annual Hispanic Wellness Fair and remains highly involved in both.

This page last modified May 8, 2013

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