The University of Texas at Tyler and UT Health Science Center at Tyler will soon be under one umbrella, with UT Health Science Center President Dr. Kirk Calhoun leading the new combined institution.

The new institution will move forward under the University of Texas at Tyler name, according to a news release from the UT System.

In December the UT System announced plans to realign UT Tyler and UT Health Science Center at Tyler into one comprehensive institution to enhance and expand educational, research and clinical delivery in East Texas. On Monday the UT Board of Regents announced the next steps in making that dream a reality.

As part of an accreditation process for both institutions to exist as one, a steering committee and working groups composed of faculty and staff leaders from both Tyler institutions have been working with the UT System to submit a “Substantive Change Prospectus” to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) for review and approval.

The prospectus, which is due by Sept. 1, is required before the accreditation agency can begin a rigorous review of the application this fall. Part of the process involves an understanding of the institution’s proposed organizational and administrative structure, which requires one president with responsibility for all functions of the university.

As a result of that requirement, the Board of Regents unanimously approved a motion by Chairman Kevin P. Eltife, of Tyler, to announce its intention for Kirk Calhoun, M.D., president of UT Health Science Center at Tyler and chairman of UT Health East Texas, the 10-hospital health system serving the region, to serve as the future president of the combined universities. Under the proposed re-alignment to SACSCOC, the UT Health Science Center at Tyler will become an administrative unit within UT Tyler.

Eltife is a former Tyler mayor and state senator. He was appointed to the Board of Regents in 2017 by Gov. Greg Abbott and named Chairman in December 2018.

The news release from the UT System said that a top priority of the university will be to successfully align with the East Texas region to better address its educational, health and economic aspirations. A community advisory committee charged with overseeing that effort was named early in the year by Eltife. It is chaired by another former Tyler mayor, Barbara Bass.

The Regents will finalize plans in the months ahead as recommendations are received from the steering committee, but in the meantime, Eltife and the Board praised the leadership, enthusiasm, and collegiality that President Calhoun and UT Tyler President Michael Tidwell have brought to the transition process from the start, including the full commitment of the two presidents and their respective university communities to unite the institutions as seamlessly as possible.

Calhoun, who has served as president of UT Health Science Center at Tyler for almost 18 years, is already leading efforts for his institution to receive licensing and accreditation approvals to establish a new medical school. In February, Regents announced their intention to launch the medical school to educate and employ more health care professionals to serve East Texas.

Tidwell’s role at the new institution has not yet been announced.

Once the proposed realignment receives all approvals, the uniting of UT Tyler and UT Health Science at Tyler into one entity means that there will be one seamless environment for students and faculty to have exceptional opportunities to learn, teach, conduct research and deliver health care in a single, fully integrated academic and medical setting.

The university will also offer new experiential training for undergraduate and graduate students; increase its ability to garner additional research support; strengthen the recruitment of top faculty and students for its undergraduate and graduate programs; and serve as a catalyst to grow a health care workforce.

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