Academic year 2015-2016 “was our best year to date,” UT Health Science Center Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD, said Tuesday in his annual State of the University Address to the campus. “We have a great story to tell.”
The positive tone threaded throughout the speech, as the chancellor detailed growth in enrollment, innovations in education and training, increases in clinical revenue, unprecedented construction and a reorganized research enterprise, all of which are rapidly advancing the university toward its goal set more than six years ago to join the ranks of the top-quartile academic health science centers.
Enrollment has shown “a steady but reliable expansion,” he said. That number reached 3,100 students this year, of which more than 94 percent are professional or graduate-level students. Another 1,416 residents and fellows added to the ranks, boosted by the clinical partnership developing between UTHSC and Saint Thomas Health. “We are overwhelmingly the largest educator of residents and fellows in a six-state region,” he said.
Programs on all UTHSC campuses have experienced incremental growth, Dr. Schwab said. “The good news is, we have the numbers, students want to come here,” he said. UTHSC’s graduation rate is at an impressive 96 percent, the number of graduates has risen to more than 1,300 a year when residency and fellowship certificates are added (965 degree graduates), and the first-time board pass rate is 97.3 percent. “A high-quality measurement any way you look at it,” the chancellor said.
As enrollment increases, Dr. Schwab said UTHSC is “changing the fundamental way we do education.” Key to that is the $36.7 million Interprofessional Simulation and Patient Safety Center under construction on campus, where students from all six colleges will train together in simulation settings to deliver team-based health care – the model for quality care. When it opens in 2017, it will be “one of the best facilities in the United States for interprofessional education,” he said.
Dr. Schwab said he is “very pleased with our bricks-and-mortar progress,” including upcoming renovation to the Historic Quadrangle at the center of campus, which will give the College of Nursing a new home and “bring students back to the interior of campus for the first time since the 1960s.” He also cited construction of a second dental building on campus — the Delta Dental Building — that will be “the best dental facility in the middle part of the country.”
Dr. Schwab pointed to construction at UTHSC’s clinical partner hospitals, where the majority of the university’s education effort is done. He praised the hospitals, including Methodist University Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, for committing to building “best-in-class” facilities.
“The growth of our clinical enterprise has been nothing less than outstanding,” the chancellor said, giving a nod to the architect of the growth, David Stern, MD, vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs and Robert Kaplan Executive Dean of the College of Medicine, who recently received a Health Care Heroes Award for administrative excellence from the Memphis Business Journal.
Clinical practice net revenue rose in 2015-2016 to a record level of more than $300 million. “I believe we have a national-caliber performance in clinical care,” he said, with Le Bonheur joining the ranks of the top 20 Children’s Hospitals and the UT Medical Center and Methodist University Hospital edging into the nations best.
The chancellor said the university is in a strong financial position with the growth in clinical revenue, as well as $229 million in sponsored programs (non-clinical grants and contracts), $141 million in state appropriation and increasing philanthropic dollars. While research grant awards did not exceed the previous year, the research enterprise is being reorganized and intensive planning and recruiting efforts are underway to define its infrastructure and position UTHSC to become a top-tier research institution.
UTHSC is also aggressively growing the ranks of its faculty in order to continue expanding its core mission of advancing the health of Tennessee through education, research, clinical care and public service.
“I think we have completed a great year,” Dr. Schwab said.
To see the entire 2015-2016 State of the University Address, go to: https://mediaserver.uthsc.edu/uthscms/Play/76199e5859424aaca3d1bd29bb3b72a21d