The Big Picture: A Message from UTHealth President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D.
As we wrap up the year and enjoy the holiday season with friends and family, I would like to thank each of you for your support of UTHealth, and for all that we have accomplished together in 2014.
Our university continues to show strong growth in all mission areas, despite the challenges facing academic health centers around the world. We ended fiscal year 2014 with a positive financial margin – marking more than 10 consecutive years of positive margins for UTHealth. We also experienced strong research growth this year with a total of $222 million in contracts and grants, a $32 million increase over last year. Of these contracts and grants, $175 million were federal awards, a $25 million increase over last year. In patient care, we are posting 1.5 million patient encounters per year and provide $65 million in charity care.
The success of UTHealth comes from amazing people doing amazing work. We are one of the largest employers in Houston, with more than 7,700 faculty and staff. We educate more graduate health care professionals than any other institution in Texas and, to date, have graduated approximately 40,000 health care workers to serve our communities. With a current student census of 4,700, all of our schools are at capacity with the exception of the School of Biomedical Informatics – which is expanding programs and enrollment to meet the demands of the growing field of health informatics.
At our fall Development Board meeting, we named two lifetime members – Dr. Denton Cooley and Jim Dannenbaum. Life membership to our development board is an honorary recognition given to members who over their years of service have demonstrated extraordinary support of UTHealth. Both of these men are so deserving of this recognition and are renowned in their respective fields. Also at that meeting, Julius Glickman, chair of the UTHealth Development board since 2012, officially passed the gavel to our new chair, Bob Graham. Please join me in thanking Julius for his tremendous service as chair and in welcoming Bob to this new role.
In other development news, UTHealth held its inaugural fundraising gala, the Constellation Gala, which was a tremendous success – raising more than $1.85 million for student scholarships and faculty endowments. More than 600 supporters of UTHealth were in attendance, and I thank our outstanding gala chairs, Ginni and Richard Mithoff, and all of the host committee members for their tireless efforts and tremendous vision. It truly was a night to remember, and the endowed funds raised that evening will benefit our university for generations to come.
The Gala also gave us the opportunity to honor our one-and-only Dr. James H. “Red” Duke, Jr. Whether you know him as Dr. Duke, or Jim, or Red, or “Yes, sir!” you know him as a skilled but humble man who has dedicated his life to healing sick patients, to improving patient care and outcomes, and to training the next generation of lifesavers. It was truly a privilege to thank Dr. Duke for educating thousands of our medical students, residents and fellows; for founding the Life Flight air ambulance service; for his 24/7 commitment to our patients; for helping to lay the very foundation of our university; and for working every single day to make it the best training ground and trauma center in the world.
Speaking of our teaching hospitals, I am extremely proud to report that Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center recently received the acclaimed 2014 UHC Quality Leadership Award for demonstrating excellence in delivering high-quality patient care − one of only 12 hospitals in the nation to receive this honor. Working in partnership with Memorial Hermann, we set out to achieve this goal more than a decade ago, and thanks to the investment and leadership of our clinical faculty, staff, residents, and students, we have reached it. I would like to recognize both of our primary teaching affiliates, Memorial Hermann and Harris Health, for their trust, efforts and collaborative spirit as we work together to train the next generation of caregivers and care for the sickest patients in our community.
As we look to the upcoming Legislative session, our top priorities include increasing formula funding levels and securing tuition revenue bonds. Our current formula funding levels are now just 60 cents on the dollar compared to 2000 rates. We are also in need of special item funding to improve our aging buildings, to increase our mental health services, to establish the UT System Biomedical Informatics Collaborative, to support our interprofessional education programs, to support the Texas School Ready! Project, to create new funding for Graduate Medical Education, and to expand our Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety. I am grateful to our good friend in the Office of Government Relations, Vice President Scott Forbes, and our new Associate Vice President Jennifer Deegan, who are telling our amazing stories at the local, state and national levels.
This has been a year of amazing growth and accomplishments for UTHealth, and we have much to be thankful for. Most importantly, I would like to thank each of you for your dedication to our educational and academic missions, to the improvement of health and health care around the world, and to the communities across this state that are served by our programs. I wish you a happy and healthy holiday and look forward to great things to come in 2015.