After nearly 130 years, UT-Austin is finally getting a medical school. And last night it got a name: the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
In a jubilant Wednesday night ceremony at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, UT System chancellor Francisco Cigarroa—together with UT president Bill Powers and the Dell family—announced that a $50 million gift will establish the Dell Medical School.
“Thirty years ago, my parents sent me off to Austin in the hope I’d become a doctor,” Michael Dell said. “This is maybe second best.” After starting Dell, Inc. in his Dobie Center dorm room in 1984, Dell dropped out of UT to lead what is now the third-largest personal computer vendor in the world.
In addition to $50 million for the medical school, the Dells will give an additional $10 million to support health clinics throughout Travis County. “We’ll elevate the level of care for the entire community,” Dell said. “UT-Austin is the perfect partner.”
After thanking the Dell Foundation and Sen. Kirk Watson, who spearheaded the medical school effort, Powers praised Travis County voters for passing Proposition 1, which secured funding for the school. “We are so grateful for your vote of confidence,” Powers said. “To all the people of Central Texas, let me say from the bottom of my heart: thank you.”
The medical school is projected to enroll its first class of about 50 students by 2016.
Cigarroa, who balances his chancellor duties with work as a pediatric transplant surgeon, drew laughs when he told the crowd about his father’s reaction to the news. Joaquin Cigarroa attended UT in the 1940s before studying at Harvard Medical School.
“When I told Dad, a tear came out of his eye,” Cigarroa said. “Then he said, ‘This is the most wonderful day for my alma mater, and no one will have to go to Harvard again.”
The Dells speak at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation headquarters in Austin on Jan. 30.
Photo by Michael Thomas for the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.