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EDITORIAL: Welcome, UT-RGV medical school dean

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Dr. Francisco Fernandez

Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2014 12:00 am

Congratulations to Dr. Francisco Fernandez and to the University of Texas System on his selection to become the founding dean of the new medical school that is to be located in the Rio Grande Valley.

Fernandez currently is the chairman of the College of Medicine Psychiatry And Behavioral Neurosciences at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Francisco Fernandez back to The University of Texas family in the historic role of founding dean of the Rio Grande Valley’s own medical school,” Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System, said in a statement issued Friday. “We are grateful to the committee members who conducted an extensive national search for this eminently well-qualified psychiatrist, neuroscientist and leader, and we look forward to the extremely important role he will play in the medical school’s formative years.”

In the grand scheme of founding the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the selection of a medical school dean is a significant component in this historic process and we are delighted to hear that Fernandez is a community-oriented leader.

We believe such an attribute is critical as a new medical school is launched. There are a multitude of constituencies in the Valley and it’s important that each feels like it has a voice in influencing how a medical education and medical research may ultimately address the healthcare needs of South Texas.

Academia is frequently concerned about research as a critical component of a viable institution — as it should be. But community leaders in the Valley have already shown an eagerness to embrace this important institution so we believe it is politically smart to choose a leader who recognizes the significance of community support. We believe this community-oriented attribute is just as essential for a new president of the university, also.

We are pleased that UT System officials are attuned to the significance of the diplomatic role that its academic leaders have in the overall community.

We look forward to Fernandez’s formal introduction to the Valley and we commend the deliberative process undertaken by the UT System in its nationwide search for someone to lead the medical school.

“I am excited and humbled by this tremendous opportunity to build the UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine into a world-class educational center,” Fernandez said in his first public statement since The Monitor broke the story on Friday.

“The chance to build a medical school from the ground up in a region as richly diverse and wonderful as South Texas is a dream come true ... I’m eager to get started and become part of the Valley community.”

The Valley is eager to embrace Fernandez and the important role that he will play in this region.

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Editorials reflect the majority opinion of The Monitor’s editorial board.

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