The unique collaboration between TCU and the UNT Health Science Center that brought an M.D. school to Fort Worth is no more.

On Jan. 12, TCU and the UNTHSC School of Medicine issued a joint statement saying the medical school will continue solely as the TCU School of Medicine with TCU as the degree-granting university.

In the statement, UNT Chancellor Michael R. Williams and TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. said: “As the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine continues to grow and evolve, so do the needs of our region and state. To that end, the medical school will continue its evolution and success solely as the TCU School of Medicine with TCU as the degree-granting university.”

The announcement signaled the dissolution of a public university/private university partnership that established the allopathic (M.D.) medical school in Fort Worth, long a goal of leaders in the city. Until the school was established, Fort Worth was the largest city in Texas without a medical school offering M.D. degrees. The UNT Health Science Center has offered medical degrees in osteopathic medicine (D.O.) since 1970.  

In 2017, state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, championed and helped pass a bill that would create the UNT and TCU School of Medicine at the Health Science Center. It was the legal component of the desire of many in the community to establish a medical school in Fort Worth. And it worked. 

“TCU was willing to put up the money. The University of North Texas Health Science Center had the facilities. It’s my understanding that TCU will be continuing to use those facilities for the MD school before they have facilities of their own,” Geren said.

The Fort Worth Report has filed an open records seeking a copy of the separation agreement.

Fort Worth officials who had long pushed and worked for a local medical school put the changes in a positive light.

“You know I was involved in working hard to help make that happen to facilitate it, and I thought it was great and positive,” said former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “The Joint School was a great plus for this community.”

It will keep more doctors in our community, Price said.

The M.D. school has received plenty of support from the community in terms of donations. The school’s inaugural class, the class of 2023, had its first year of medical school paid for by H. Paul Dorman, who owns DFB Pharmaceuticals Inc. In March 2021, TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine’s second class received an anonymous gift of a year’s tuition.

In 2020, the late Anne Marion and Burnett Foundation made a $25 million gift to the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine to establish the Anne W. Marion Endowment at the school of medicine.

The school has also received support from potential students. In February 2021, the school received more than 8,000 applications for the 2021-22 medical school cycle.

The school has also helped increase the number of residency positions in the area, which was also a goal of community leaders. In 2018, HSC President Williams announced an agreement between the school HCA, and Baylor Scott & White to expand residency positions by 650 during the next five years.  

The school has also received support from professional organizations. In June 2021, the school was awarded provisional accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, an accrediting body for educational programs at schools of allopathic medicine.

“I just think it was a very successful collaboration with the two universities, and this is just the next step in that,” Price said. She said the UNT Health Science Center can continue to work on their D.O. program while TCU can continue to grow the M.D. program.

TCU Board of Trustees Chair Mark Johnson said in a news release that the medical school had strong support from the school. TCU has been the degree-granting institution for the joint medical school since it opened.

“On behalf of the TCU Board of Trustees, we continue to be inspired by this transformative medical school, including the clinical and academic talent that we are recruiting and retaining for our community,” Johnson said. “We have the privilege and responsibility of educating medical leaders of the future. This is an extraordinary way for us to live up to our mission of responsible global citizenship, starting right here in Fort Worth.”

The collaboration officially began between the two premier Fort Worth educational institutions in July 2015 with a festive celebration at Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth as the two powerhouses both realized long-sought goals.

TCU’s Boshini and HSC’s Williams beamed like proud schoolboys as they made the announcement that Fort Worth would have a medical school, the result of an innovative collaboration between the public and private universities.

For TCU, a private liberal arts school with about 12,000 students, the medical school added a solid graduate program that strengthened its education profile, while HSC had – against plenty of opposition from the school’s D.O. graduates – long sought an M.D. school to expand its offerings. M.D.’s and D.O.’s have long been rivals, although they co-exist at many educational and health care institutions.  

An official who had long been involved in the negotiation between the two schools said the news was not totally unexpected.

“It was a challenge to put together and all along there was the possibility that this might or could happen, and it did,” said the official, who asked to be kept off the record.

Mayor Mattie Parker said she touted the collaboration between TCU and HSC even as it comes to an end.

“The successful collaboration between HSC and TCU to bring the school of medicine to our community has been critical in raising the profile of health care in our community,” Parker said in a statement. “The innovative leadership and expertise both universities brought in creating this medical school will continue to have a positive impact in our community for generations to come. Fort Worth is incredibly fortunate to have both a D.O. and M.D. school in our city, and I look forward to the continued transformation of our city, health care community, and beyond.”

Editor’s note: This story was changed Jan. 21 to clarify a quote from former Mayor Betsy Price. The original quote did not reflect the correct relationship between the D.O. program and the School of Public Health. HSC’s D.O. program is within the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. The School of Public Health and the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine are two of five schools within HSC.

Reporters Jacob Sanchez and Rachel Behrndt contributed to this report. 

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Bob Francis

Bob Francis is business editor for fortworthreport.org. He has been covering business news locally and nationally for many years. He can be reached at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org

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