The following is a letter from Jay Hartzell, president of The University of Texas at Austin, sent to campus on July 15, 2021.
Dear UT Community,
Last week, we announced that Clay Johnston was stepping down from his roles as Dean of the Dell Medical School and Vice President for Medical Affairs at UT. We are incredibly grateful to Clay for his stellar leadership and glad that his pursuit of exciting new opportunities will still permit him to play a key role on our transition team and to continue helping our transformation effort as we push the boundaries of how we think about health – not just health care – at Dell Med.
This transition also presents an opportunity for UT to consider how we build our leadership structure to support the next chapter of expansion, growth and excellence in our medical journey. After consulting with Clay, our leadership team, and other stakeholders at the medical school, we have decided to take the opportunity of this transition to separate the two roles of Dell Med Dean and UT Vice President for Medical Affairs.
The monumental growth at Dell Med during the past seven years makes this structural change both necessary and exciting. The school will continue to be one of the most innovative and transformative medical schools in America, attracting incredible students and faculty members who are drawn to its unique position. Similarly, UT Health Austin, our clinical practice, which has grown fivefold since 2018, will continue to provide increasing amounts of world-class care to our community. This change is also a testament to our deep commitment to investing in outstanding staff members who play a powerful role in our university’s mission.
To enable us to continue to grow and develop while we have some uncertainty about the timing of Clay’s next role, we’ve asked George Macones, M.D., chair of Dell Med’s Department of Women’s Health, to serve as interim Dean, beginning September 1. Also, Martin Harris, M.D., MBA, the school’s Associate Vice President of the Health Enterprise and Chief Business Officer, has agreed to be our interim Vice President for Medical Affairs, beginning August 1.
Moving forward, we’ll follow standard UT procedures for selecting a new dean, a process that begins with an election of faculty members to form the basis for a search committee that advises university leadership along the way. We’ll also begin the search for a Vice President for Medical Affairs by convening a second search committee that will be chaired by Professor Chuck Fraser, M.D., Dell Med’s chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Amy Shaw Thomas, Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs with The University of Texas System.
Thanks to the work of Clay and countless others, our medical school is on an exciting trajectory. We look forward to engaging with the campus community during the coming months as we work together to write the next chapters of Dell Med’s powerful and transformative story as a place that changes the impact and reputation of UT Austin and health in Austin, Texas, and ultimately, the world.
Executive VP and Provost Designate