Dell Medical School Names Its First Dean: Clay Johnston

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After 130 years, UT-Austin is finally getting its own medical school. And this morning it got a leader: inaugural dean Clay Johnston.

“I am truly grateful to be here,” Johnston told a crowd of about 80 university leaders, Austin politicians, and reporters at a press conference this morning in the Tower. “Thank you, President Powers, for entrusting me with this responsibility … To know you’re creating a world-class medical school from the ground up … it hasn’t happened in at least 50 years, and it probably won’t happen again for another 50.”

Johnston, a practicing neurologist who currently serves as associate vice chancellor of research at UC-San Francisco, has a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College, a medical degree from Harvard University, and a PhD in epidemiology from UC-Berkeley.

After nearly two decades in California, Johnston—who was already sporting a new burnt-orange tie—sounded enthusiastic about moving to the Lone Star State. “To imagine that in the middle of a recession, the citizens of a city would agree to increase their property tax?” he asked incredulously, referring to Travis County’s 2012 approval of Proposition 1. “I can tell you that it wouldn’t happen in San Francisco. I’m moving to a place that’s more ready for the changes we wanted to make than San Francisco is, and I truly believe that.”

UT President Bill Powers, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, and state Sen. Kirk Watson were among the speakers who introduced Johnston at the event. In their remarks, all four men repeatedly expressed gratitude for the voters of Austin, who helped make the Dell Medical School possible by passing Proposition 1.

“I want to close by thanking people who are not in this room, and those are the citizens of Travis County—who said yes to better health care and said yes to creating a world-class medical school. We are very grateful for the trust you have put into us,” Powers said.

Stay tuned for an Alcalde podcast with Johnston later this week.

Photo courtesy Majed Photography.


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