The UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) 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 (PA) in 1997 and the School of Public Health (SPH) in 1999. Research also thrived, and UNTHSC 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 UNTHSC’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 the UNTHSC’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, , and the GSBS received the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring. In 2005, the physical growth of UNTHSC 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, becomes UNTHSC’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 (SCP), opened in fall 2013.
Michael R. Williams, DO, MD, MBA, became the sixth president of UNTHSC in December 2012. A Fort Worth native and graduate of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (1981), Williams previously served on the UNT System Board of Regents. He practiced anesthesiology and critical care medicine in Texas for more than 25 years. He then served as CEO at Hill Country Memorial Hospital from 2008-2013, during which time the hospital received numerous state and national awards and became a Truven Top 100 U.S. hospital for 2012 and 2013. Under his leadership the hospital was also awarded the 2013 Malcolm Baldrige Best Practice for Leadership Award, and named a Top 10 finalist for the 2013 Malcolm Baldrige National Presidential Quality Award.
Dr. Williams completed his anesthesiology and critical care training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and the Texas Heart Institute in Houston following achieving two medical degrees. Dr. Williams holds board certifications in both anesthesiology and critical care medicine by the American Board of Anesthesiology. He holds an MBA from Duke University, and a Master’s in Health Care Management from Harvard University. He has been named a Fellow of the American College of Health Care Executives and a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. In 2013, Dr. Williams was named to the U.S. News and World Report’s Advisory Council for the Hospital of Tomorrow Conference and remains an active member.
Williams’ vision is to create One University built on values, defining and producing the providers of the future. Thus far under his administration the institution has embraced a values-based culture, established strong leadership development and succession programs, received legislative support to fund the first Institute for Patient Safety and collaborated with Texas Christian University to bring an allopathic medical school to Fort Worth, scheduled to open in July 2019.
Today, UNTHSC has a $288 million annual budget. UNTHSC’s economic impact was $675.4 million during the 2018 fiscal year for the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Since 2005, the number of students has grown from 1,000 to over 2,258, and research expenditures have dramatically expanded from $22 million to more than $46 million per year funded by organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and others. More than 1,300 faculty and staff support UNTHSC’s students and mission.
UNTHSC proudly serves the community through a variety of community and school outreach programs. For example, UNTHSC founded our signature event, the annual Cowtown Marathon; and co-founded Fort Worth’s annual Hispanic Wellness Fair; and remains highly involved in both.
UNTHSC launched Fort Worth’s first Mobile Pediatric Clinic in 2013 to deliver health care to children living in underserved parts of the city.
During the past three years, the North Texas Eye Research Institute has initiated community-based vision screening programs that include trained volunteers from all UNTHSC schools. The programs have received significant philanthropic support from the community to provide free vision screening at community-based health/wellness fairs, back-to-school events for youngsters, pre-kindergarten vision screening for the Fort Worth Independent School district, and screening of 4-month-old to 3-year-old children at community day care centers.
In 2018, UNTHSC opened its newest campus facility, the Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building. The five-story, 173,000-square-foot building will house the UNT System College of Pharmacy, the Texas Christian University and UNTHSC School of Medicine and the North Texas Eye Research Institute. It is the first new research building at the Health Science Center in 14 years.
Also in 2018, UNTHSC took major strides in improving graduate medical education across the North Texas region by partnering with hospitals and health care systems to create as many as 650 new residency slots. A partnership with Medical City Healthcare will add 500 slots in 14 hospitals across Dallas-Fort Worth, and ensure new clinical training opportunities for UNTHSC students in the medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and physician assistant programs.
UNTHSC has extraordinary teams creating remarkable work – every day. In recent years, UNTHSC students earned a number of notable academic achievements, including:
- Fourth-year medical students in TCOM earned the highest scores in the nation on a national board exam for future osteopathic physicians, the COMLEX-USA Level 1 Exam.
- Physician Assistant graduates earned a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the national certification exam for the fourth consecutive year.
- Public Health students passed the Certified in Public Health exam at a rate of 96.5 percent.
- Nearly 80 percent of Medical Science graduates in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences were accepted into medical school, dental school or other professional programs over the last four years.
It adds up to a graduate university that’s transforming and improving lives across North Texas and beyond.