University of Texas System officials will make their way through the Rio Grande Valley today to introduce Dr. Francisco Fernandez, the medical school’s founding dean, to the community.
Fernandez’s appointment was announced earlier this month.
Dr. Kenneth Shine, special adviser to the UT System chancellor, said Fernandez’s credentials will help him innovate while establishing the first medical school in the Valley.
“We undertook a national search for the dean and looked at a large number of candidates. We brought four of them back to have extensive visits in the Valley,” Shine said. “Dr. Fernandez clearly emerged as a truly outstanding candidate to be the founding dean.”
Shine called Fernandez an outstanding teacher and researcher, both of which will be important for a successful medical school.
“Since we would like to see the medical school ultimately have a strong research component, that was an important attribute,” he said.
One of the founding dean’s tasks will be to initiate partnerships between the new medical school and the community, Shine said.
“We anticipate he will integrate a good deal of the research and education programs into activities with the community,” he said.
Fernandez will assume his post April 28, according to UT System spokeswoman Karen Adler.
“We know how passionate the South Texas communities are about the new university and especially the medical school, and we wanted to be able to introduce him to the community,” Adler said.
One of the critical areas Fernandez will face is recruitment of new faculty members, Shine said. The UT System is recruiting for administrative positions, including the head of a diabetes institute, which will have eight faculty decisions, but Fernandez will make the final hiring decision, Shine said.
He said Fernandez will be part of the process establishing the curriculum for the medical school, which Shine said already has a pretty good outline.
“We are very excited and pleased with Dr. Fernandez’s willingness to take on this challenging and exciting opportunity,” Shine said.
The day will commence with a news conference at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen. Fernandez later will visit UT-Pan American in Edinburg and UT Brownsville.
The visits to two schools will feature meet-and-greet events with the dean. Later in the afternoon at UTB, Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa will host separate town hall forums for faculty and staff and later in the day for students.