TYLER, Texas — Less than a week following The University of Texas System’s announcement of its intention to launch a medical school in East Texas, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler received a historic gift commitment as the first response to a call for private and public support needed to fund it. 

The East Texas Medical Center Foundation announced it will give $80 million to help fund the university’s new educational venture – aimed at significantly transforming health education, care and outcomes in a rapidly growing region of the state. 

The Foundation’s gift represents the largest single contribution ever made to establish a medical school in Texas and the largest gift made to an institution or organization in East Texas, a region of 1.3 million people. 

Community, business and health care leaders and elected officials who have long pushed for access to better health care for the region joined faculty and staff from the UT Health Science Center at Tyler at Willow Brook Country Club today to celebrate the announcement. 

“The Foundation board is honored to make this essential investment in our community,” said Elam Swann, chairman of the East Texas Medical Center Foundation board and a Tyler businessman and philanthropist. “At the core of a region’s vitality is its commitment to a healthy society. We have a desire and a responsibility to participate in that effort, and we hope our gift will inspire other individuals and organizations to participate.” 

Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun, president of the UT Health Science Center at Tyler, described the gift as “monumental” for the East Texas region. 

“The East Texas Medical Center Foundation’s commitment to advancing medicine in East Texas marks an unprecedented financial commitment and vote of confidence in our university, and for that, we are eternally grateful,” Dr. Calhoun said. “We pledge to be excellent stewards of this gift as we serve the community. This contribution supporting the operations of the proposed medical school will accelerate East Texas’ ascendancy as a destination of choice for medical school students, physicians and other health professionals to train and live; for families to remain and industries to locate; and to significantly improve patient outcomes.”

RELATED: Officials to seek approval from UT System Board of Regents to build medical school in Tyler

A proposal to establish a medical school in Tyler will be on the agenda at the UT System Board of Regents’ next meeting, Feb. 26 in Austin. The regents’ authorization will allow notifications and other activities to proceed with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and other licensing and accrediting agencies.

This is a developing story and CBS19 will provide updates as more information is made available.

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