Richard Connor: New medical school is another jewel in a great city’s crown

What’s not to like about Fort Worth getting its own medical school for MDs? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Last week’s announcement of a partnership between Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center to create a medical school in Fort Worth is a monumental achievement.

Just when it might have appeared that Fort Worth has had more than its share of good news, the news got better. On top of the medical school announcement came another one: Facebook will be opening a $750 million data center here.

Fort Worth is a great city, and we have talked so much about the unique public/private partnerships that have fueled our growth for so long the conversation is almost a cliche.

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But even cliches can raise questions. And there are those who are questioning this latest public-private alliance.

It’s no secret that a number of osteopathic physicians educated and trained at the Health Science Center’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine have consistently opposed the idea of a Fort Worth school for MDs. What will happen to the osteopathic program, they ask? We are told it will remain. The school will continue to graduate DOs right alongside Fort Worth’s newly minted MDs.

One of the problems plaguing graduating doctors in North Texas is a lack of residency programs at local hospitals. More residencies must emerge from this plan. Many are betting that John Peter Smith will get the jump on the others.

Another key question raised in the wake of the medical school announcement involves the source of the $25 million in private money already donated to the project. As it happens, a news organization such as Fort Worth Business is by its nature curious about such things. So far, we have not been able to get the information. But most of us have been in Fort Worth long enough to guess the identity of at least some of those donors.

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Such questions are valid, but they don’t diminish the enormous significance of this development and the partnership that’s driving it.

Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. is highly regarded in the community for his leadership and for his ability to grow TCU’s endowment. TCU has the money to complete this project, rest assured of that.

UNTHSC President Michael R. Williams has also received high marks in the community for his visionary leadership. He is a Fort Worth boy who made good. He is both a DO and an MD. He understands the challenges faced by those who want to practice medicine and who graduate but have to leave Fort Worth to find further training and jobs.

Of course there will be wrinkles to iron out and problems to solve. Starting a new medical school will not be all smooth sailing all the time. Big ventures born of big ideas rarely come off without a hitch or two.

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This is another jewel in Fort Worth’s crown and all of us who live and work here can rejoice in our great city’s relentless success.

Richard Connor is chairman of the parent company of Fort Worth Business, DRC Media. Contact him at