In a show of support for the new TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, Fort Worth pharmaceutical executive, business investor and entrepreneur Paul Dorman will provide full first-year tuition to the inaugural class of medical students.
The schools announced the gift April 18 during a Leadership Fort Worth program on health care at the Fort Worth Club. The announcement brought the crowd to its feet with a standing ovation for the longtime executive, who maintains a low public profile.
“In my travels, I have truly never seen something like this before and it again validates the values of Fort Worth,” said Dr. Stuart Flynn, founding dean of the medical school, as he made the announcement.
The 60 students, to be known as Dorman Scholars, will be the first to attend the new school, which is set to open in 2019.
Tuition will be about $50,000 a year at the new school, bringing the gift’s value to more than $3 million, Flynn said.
Recruiting physicians is expensive, and officials would like to see the graduates of the new school remain in Fort Worth. Dorman said the students are likely to “fall in love with Fort Worth, just like the rest of us.”
“This is a unique opportunity for me to contribute to this community,” Dorman told the Fort Worth Business Press after the announcement. “I love Fort Worth and I have been very involved with these two schools. I believe in what they bring to this community.”
Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center have joined forces to create the medical school to offer the M.D. degree. The school is awaiting accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Dorman said he hopes to help recruit the best and the brightest students, who will remain in the Fort Worth area providing both outstanding patient care and outstanding medical research.
“I understand the need for exceptionally trained physicians, and I believe the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine team is creating the right formula to prepare students to practice medicine in the future,” Dorman said.
“You want top applicants, particularly in the very first class,” he said. “We want to get everything off to a great start. This is a unique opportunity.”
Dorman is chairman and CEO of DFB Pharmaceuticals, a Fort Worth-based holding company that has invested in, developed and operated multiple pharmaceutical businesses in the last 20 years. His ventures have helped develop life-saving drugs, advanced research and improved quality of life for patients. One of DFB’s businesses, Healthpoint, was sold to U.K.-based Smith & Nephew in 2012 to establish a global medical technology firm dedicated to bioactive wound care treatment. Smith & Nephew has since established its U.S. headquarters in Fort Worth.
“I understand the need for exceptionally trained physicians and I believe the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine team is creating the right formula to prepare students to practice medicine in the future,” Dorman said in a news release. “This school will change the medical and economic landscape of our community and I can’t wait to meet the students who will make up the first class.”
The H. Paul Dorman Charter Scholarship Program will provide full first-year tuition to the inaugural class. The average student debt for a graduating physician is about $200,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Providing tuition support helps relieve some of this debt and allows students to pursue any area of study without feeling they must focus on the highest paid specialties to address their debt, TCU and UNTHSC officials said.
Dorman, a Fort Worth resident, was born in Kilgore and attended high school in Mississippi and college in Louisiana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University and a law degree from Loyola University Law School.
“The importance of philanthropic support for our future medical students is profound and I am grateful and humbled by Mr. Dorman’s generous gift,” said Flynn. “The value and meaning of this gift to our first class are immense. This community continues to amaze and impress me with its generosity and strong support for this school of medicine, and Mr. Dorman’s gift wonderfully exemplifies this.”
UNTHSC currently has an osteopathic medical school and graduate schools for pharmacists, physician assistants, physical therapists, public health experts and biomedical scientists.
In July 2015, TCU and UNTHSC announced that they would collaborate on the new M.D. school.
— additional reporting by Carolyn Poirot, FWBP Medical Correspondent