Tilman Fertitta donates $ 50 million to UH Medical School, which will be renamed after him

Tilman Fertitta donates $ 50 million to UH Medical School, which will be renamed after him


Billionaire businessman Tilman Fertitta said he had always firmly believed in the mission of the University of Houston School of Medicine to improve health care in Texas. She is now donating $ 50 million to help make this vision a reality.

Fertitta and his family announced on Thursday that, according to UH management, this is a “transformational” gift for the beginning medical school, which welcomed its first group of students two years ago. In recognition, the school was named the Tilman J. Fertitt Family College of Medicine as it prepares to open a state-of-the-art $ 80 million building this summer.

Fertitta, owner of the hospitality empire Landry’s Inc. and Houston Rockets, played a key role in establishing the medical school as a longtime chairman of the UH board. But it is the school’s mission to improve health and medical care in the community that has inspired him to make such a big gift, he said.

“Everyone should have the same medical care as anyone else,” he said. “It’s one of the things I like about this school and where we try to fit into the community. We want people to have good primary care, to take care of everything you need to take care of. ”

The University of Houston School of Medicine will be named Tilman J. Fertitta of the College of Medicine in recognition of the Fertitta Family Foundation’s $ 50 million donation.


Rendering

The University of Houston School of Medicine will be named Tilman J. Fertitta of the College of Medicine in recognition of the Fertitta Family Foundation’s $ 50 million donation.


Rendering

The University of Houston School of Medicine will be named Tilman J. Fertitta of the College of Medicine in recognition of the Fertitta Family Foundation’s $ 50 million donation.

The school was founded in 2019 with a curriculum that emphasizes community health, behavioral and mental health, preventive medicine and the social determinants of health – social and economic conditions that affect the health of individuals and communities.

The goal is for 50% of graduates to choose careers in primary care specializations, such as pediatrics and general internal medicine, to help address the shortage in Texas. The State Department of State and Social Services estimates that by 375, there will be a shortage of 3,375 primary care physicians.

Improving health and equity in health care has always been an important topic in the medical community, which is why the school has focused on these areas from the beginning. But the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice movement have made them “major” problems for a larger group of Americans, Dr. Steven Spann, founding dean of the medical school.

“It simply came to our notice then. This is our mission, “said Spann. “It’s amazing to see how society, and healthcare in particular, is beginning to understand the importance of it and accept it.”

The school is also focused on improving the diversity of doctors. Of the 60 students who were part of the school’s first two classes, 67% are under-represented in medicine, and more than half came from lower socio-economic backgrounds, according to a press release. By comparison, only 13% of students admitted to American medical schools each year are black or Hispanic.

Training the next generation of primary care physicians and improving equity in health care are goals that go hand in hand, said Dr. Toi Harris, senior vice president and director of justice, diversity and inclusion at Memorial Hermann. Having a medical student have the opportunity to train in a primary care setting could help him understand how social determinants, such as socioeconomic status or access to education, affect a patient’s overall health.

“I think it’s extremely useful and will have an impact on how they approach patient care and how they engage in the community,” Harris said. “Exposure to these types of models during training can really help inform you about your career and the way you provide care.”

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In his role as chairman of the UH Regent’s Council, Fertitta has been in line with the medical school’s mission to improve access to health care and justice from the beginning, said University President Renu Khator.

“She really believes in her future and what she can do. She has a very clear idea of ​​where it could be in 10 years or where it could be in 15 years, “she said. “It’s amazing that he came and gave this kind of gift to help medical school take off and be better than it would be without these kinds of transformational gifts.”

The $ 50 million donation will go to hiring “top teachers” and investing in medical research, Khator said.

Tilman Fertitta, owner of Landry’s, Inc., and the Houston Rockets, pose for a portrait at the Post Oak Hotel in Uptown on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 in Houston.

Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

The gift will be divided as follows:

$ 10 million will go to five subsidized chairs; The school intends to hire renowned scholars who focus on innovation in health care. This $ 10 million will be offset as part of the university’s “$ 100 million challenge” to departments and professorships.

$ 10 million will be used to create a subsidized scholarship fund to support subsidized graduate research scholarships and scholarships for medical students.

$ 10 million will go to cover the initial costs of medical school to strengthen research activities.

$ 20 million will be used to create the Fertitta Dean’s Endowed Fund to support research support activities.

Dar Fertitty is also launching a $ 100 million campaign for medical school. The money will be used to support scholarships, recruit teachers and cover operational needs such as equipment.

This is not the first time that Fertitta, an alum from UH, has given a considerable gift to his alma mater. In 2016, he donated $ 20 million to help fund the $ 60 million renovation of the university’s basketball arena, now known as the Fertitta Center.

The University of Houston School of Medicine will be named Tilman J. Fertitta of the College of Medicine in recognition of the Fertitta Family Foundation’s $ 50 million donation.


Courtesy of the University of Houston Photographer / Videographer courtesy of the University of Houston

The University of Houston School of Medicine will be named Tilman J. Fertitta of the College of Medicine in recognition of the Fertitta Family Foundation’s $ 50 million donation.


Courtesy of the University of Houston Photographer / Videographer courtesy of the University of Houston

The University of Houston School of Medicine will be named Tilman J. Fertitta of the College of Medicine in recognition of the Fertitta Family Foundation’s $ 50 million donation.

“I love Houston.” Houston treated me very well. And the university is the namesake of our city, “said Fertitta. “It’s one of the few major public universities in a city the size of Houston, and that’s what makes it special.”

As chairman of the board, Fertitta led the effort to select a site for the new $ 80 million College of Medicine building. In 2018, the Board of Directors decided to build a 130,000-square-foot building on 43 acres of previously undeveloped campus land. The building is part of a planned life sciences complex along Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Faculty of Medicine welcomed its first class of 30 students in 2020. For the past two years, the university’s temporary home has been the Health 2 building on campus.

The new building includes a state-of-the-art anatomical suite, clinical skills laboratory, patient examination rooms, a simulation center and large team classrooms.

Fertitta’s gift is a “morale booster” for medical school as the new building opens this summer, Spann said.

“We have this beautiful new building and now we have a great name in our medical school,” he said. “It simply increases dynamism and enthusiasm. It will strengthen community support. “

Fertitta also hopes that his family’s gift inspires others to support the medical school and its mission. He knows that his gift and work at the medical school are just the beginning; additional investment will be needed to improve health care in Texas and elsewhere in the United States

However, he hopes that a $ 50 million donation will help achieve this goal. No one should spend 10 hours on an emergency room because he does not have a primary care physician, he said.

“It will be something that is extremely special,” he said. “You have to have a vision to look to the future.”



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