Senator promotes development of medical school

Kayla Jonsson

A Texas senator said talk of UT collaborating with the Seton Family of Hospitals corporation to build a new medical campus is possibly one of the biggest ideas to come to Austin since UT was built.

Texas Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, spoke on campus Wednesday at a lecture series sponsored by the Liberal Arts Texas Politics Project. He spoke about the importance of starting a UT medical school and health science center in Austin. Watson said the medical research center is an investment needed for the economy of the future because there is a lack of excess resources for the next generation.

“I look at the young people today and I’m worried,” he said. “We’re short on doctors. We’re short on teachers. We’re short on water. My generation is okay because my grandparents made the necessary investments. I’m scared these kids will suffer if we don’t make the necessary investments.”

Watson said he is passionate about the new institution because he was led into politics following a fight for survival after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and an abdominal tumor.

“I thought I had everything planned out until I got diagnosed,” Watson said. “One little pain can turn into anything.”

Philanthropy will play a major role in funding the medical school, and Watson said he believes the project will receive many donations because education and health care are the two areas donors reach out to most. He said he has received phone calls from possible donors and he is working with philanthropy experts to find the funding.

“We can’t just say, ‘We need a medical school, so state, give us a medical school,’” Watson said. “We need private and public partnership.”

Watson said since first moving to Austin in 1989, he has felt the need for a medical school.

“Since [my wife] and I first moved here, we always wondered why there was no medical school in Austin,” Watson said. “We are ready to say now is the time.”

This was Watson’s third time to speak at UT’s Texas Politics Project lecture series, which is more than any other politician, said government lecturer James Henson.

“It’s a great way to build connections between the campus community and capitol community,” Henson said.

Latin American studies senior Lisa Dreyfus said she did not know about the possibility of a medical school at UT and she hopes word will spread quickly to help increase needed donations.

“If more students knew about this, I’m sure they would do more about it and be more excited,” she said. 

Printed on Thursday, November 3, 2011 as: Senator promotes importance of developing medical school