President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP, announced today that Brigham C. Willis, MD, has been appointed the founding dean of the new school of medicine at the Health Science Center at UT Tyler, an administrative unit of UT Tyler.
Dr. Willis, a longtime educator, scholar and leader in academic medicine, has been widely lauded for his commitment and service to medical education. He was selected as a Master Educator by the Class of 2015 at the University of Arizona, the highest teaching honor bestowed at the college. He also received the award for top educator at the University of California, Riverside in 2020 and 2021.
Dr. Willis currently serves as senior associate dean of medical education at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. He was previously associate fellowship director for pediatric critical care medicine at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and chief medical education officer and ACGME-designated institutional official at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Willis is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and received his graduate degree from Arizona State University. He earned his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital and Research Center, Oakland, as well as a pediatric critical care medicine fellowship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“We were fortunate to have had a large and diverse selection of candidates to consider for the dean’s position,” said Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP, president of UT Tyler. “Dr. Willis impressed us with a depth of knowledge in both clinical operations and medical education, and I am very pleased that he has accepted the role to lead our faculty and educate our students.”
Dr. Willis will oversee the seventh medical school in The University of Texas System and the first in Northeast Texas.
“The selection of the founding dean is yet another important milestone in the establishment of the medical school,” said Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. “I’m especially pleased that UT Tyler is attracting professionals from the nation’s top medical schools.”
“As we continue to work toward accreditation for our new medical school, we are deeply grateful for the expertise and experience Dr. Willis will bring to our region,” said Julie V. Philley, MD, executive vice president of health affairs.
Pending the accreditation approval from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the medical school expects to welcome its inaugural class of 40 students in June 2023.
“It is with great pleasure that I accept this role as founding dean of the new medical school in Tyler. I am humbled by the honor to serve in the incredibly exciting role of helping guide the school through its inception,” said Dr. Willis. “East Texas is in great need of top-quality physicians to address significant healthcare disparities in the region, and I am so impressed with the passion and support of the university and the community of Tyler in making this school a reality. Recruiting from the region offers opportunities for students in the area to complete medical school and residency training right here in East Texas. I cannot wait to get started.”
Just last week, the R.W. Fair Foundation announced it will award a four-year scholarship to cover the full tuition of every student enrolled in the inaugural class of the new medical school. And last year, the East Texas Medical Center Foundation made an $80 million donation – the single largest contribution ever made in the region – to help fund the establishment of the medical school. The Board of Regents recently invested $95 million in new educational and clinical facilities at UT Tyler, and the Texas Legislature has committed more than $100 million in funding for health and science facilities at UT Tyler campuses.