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, 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 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, 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. 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 selection as a Truven Top 100 U.S. hospital for 2012 and 2013. The hospital also was awarded a “Number 1” ranking in the U.S. for patient experience by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in December 2012.
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.
Williams is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology in anesthesiology and critical care medicine. He is a member of the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association; Texas Medical Association; American College of Physician Executives; and the American College of Health Care Executives; and is a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. In 2013, Williams was appointed to the U.S. News & World Report “Hospital of Tomorrow” Advisory Council. He is one of only 12 national health care leaders, and the only leader from Texas, serving on the council.
Today, UNTHSC has a $308 million annual budget and adds some $464 million to Fort Worth’s economy annually. Since 2006, the number of students has grown from 1,108 to over 2,380.
UNTHSC received $45,896,362 in research and grant dollars for 2016 funded by a variety of organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and others. More than 1,440 faculty and staff support UNTHSC’s students and mission. In 2016, the UNTHSC Gibson D. Lewis Library received a $6.2 million grant and was added to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine and now serves the South Central Region of the United States.
UNTHSC proudly serves the community through a variety of community and school outreach programs. This past year, UNTHSC students and employees volunteered more than 48,840 hours. UNTHSC partners with organizations such as the Cowtown Marathon, Hispanic Wellness Coalition, Tarrant County’s Meals on Wheels Program, Make a Wish Foundation of North Texas, and The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, as well as providing care to a variety of under-served areas through our Mobile Pediatric Unit, and HOME clinic.