McALLEN — One of several candidates for the dean of the Rio Grande Valley’s new medical school is reportedly a professor at George Washington University, a prestigious campus in the nation’s capital.
Alex Stagnaro-Green, senior associate dean for education at the GWU School of Medicine and Health Sciences, recently visited the Valley as part of the vetting process, according to two University of Texas-Pan American administrators. He is also a GWU professor of medicine and of obstetrics and gynecology.
Neither the University of Texas System nor GWU would officially confirm Stagnaro-Green’s candidacy.
UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo cited the confidentiality of the search and the need to protect the recruitment process, but did say the goal is to have the process completed by January.
“We don’t release the identities of candidates,” LaCoste-Caputo said.
Stagnaro-Green did not return phone calls to his office seeking comment by press time Wednesday.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC-SA) is leading the search for a dean of the medical school, which will be integrated with the Valley’s new university — an uncommon model in Texas.
Once a finalist for dean is named, their identity will be public information.
The Valley medical school will operate under UTHSC-SA’s accreditation until it achieves its own and the new dean will first be a part of its faculty.
For now, the historic endeavor to bring a new institution to the Valley is known as Project South Texas. The process includes the consolidation of UT System’s existing campuses here — UTPA and the University of Texas at Brownsville.
Stagnaro-Green’s credentials and experience included time at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the University of Illinois-Chicago, according to his biography listed on the GWU website.
Qualities that might work well in developing a new medical school include his experience with medical school accreditation and leading comprehensive curricular reform at several institutions, according to background information from GWU.
The doctor has garnered an international profile with his crucial research linking thyroid disease and pregnancy.
Some of his published work, dating back to the 1990s, identified another cause for miscarriage, according to a WGU faculty profile he was interviewed for in 2010. Thyroid disease has since been linked to preterm delivery and it’s been found 8 percent of all women develop “transient thyroid disease” after childbirth, he said.
Of his time at GWU, Stagnaro-Green said he felt at home since his first day, never going through a period of adjustment.
“It just felt like this was where I was supposed to be,” he said in the WGU profile.
Stagnaro-Green described his work as a combination of educator and researcher.
UT System has said one of its goals for the new Valley institution is that it one day becomes a national-level Tier One research campus.
“To my great surprise, some of my most rewarding experiences as a physician have come from the dynamic process of sitting with my research colleagues and analyzing the implications of the data that our research had generated,” Stagnaro-Green said in the WGU profile.