Susan Cox

New Vice Provost for biomedical sciences Dr. Robert Messing has been named a co-chair of the steering committee that will oversee plans for the recently announced medical school. The steering committee will be responsible for the development of the budget, curriculum, research and clinical training programs and community engagement efforts of the new medical school. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The University has named both co-chairs of the steering committee that will oversee plans for the recently announced medical school, which Travis County voters approved to partially fund via a ballot initiative in the November election. Dr. Susan Cox, UT Southwestern’s first regional dean for the Austin area, will serve alongside Dr. Robert Messing, a neurobiologist from the University of California, San Francisco. Messing will also join as the new vice provost for biomedical sciences at UT Austin.

The steering committee the pair will co-chair is responsible for the development of the budget, curriculum, research and clinical training programs and community engagement efforts of the new medical school. Messing said a significant amount of work must be done before the school can move past the initial planning stage.

“There is no dean, no building, no staff, virtually nothing except a concept,” Messing said. “So much needs to be set in motion to make this happen.”

Though the steering committee will take responsibility for a wide range of issues, a dean hasn’t been named yet. Messing said the search is tentatively scheduled to begin in the spring of this year.

“There has been general talk about hiring someone before the end of the year,” Messing said. “But if you want to have a dean search, you have to be able to bring the candidates out here and show them all the things what we have available, that we have general plans, that accreditation is underway, that there is a lot we can build on. Only then you hire the kind of person you want.”

Messing said he and Cox will each focus on different aspects of the committee’s work. 

“Dr. Cox has significant experience in residency education, and she will be trying to deal with all of the clinical and accreditation related issues that happen early on,” Messing said. “I’m trying to collect information on all of the research opportunities and degree programs that already exist on this campus, so we can explore possibilities of joint degrees and interdisciplinary education.”

Though launching a new medical school is not easy, Messing said he is confident the steering committee will succeed.

“I think it’s all very do-able,” he said.

Published on January 23, 2013 as "UT appoints co-chairs to oversee medical school".

There are college deans and as of Thursday there is a regional dean.

Dr. Susan Cox, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, was appointed as the school’s first regional dean. Administrators hope the new position will strengthen the link between UT Southwestern and Seton Healthcare Family hospitals in the Austin area.

The partnership was created in 2009 with an agreement to increase the number of residents who practice at Seton hospitals and to support medical research and collaboration between the school and the hospitals.

All residency programs at Seton tie back to an academic department at UT Southwestern, said UT Southwestern spokesman Tim Doke.

“The program we initiated with Seton where we took responsibility for residency programs was our first regional endeavor,” Doke said. “Our focus is medical education and opportunities for central Texas programs and requires appointment of regional dean.”

Cox had worked with Seton in her last role at UT Southwestern as associate dean for graduate medical education. She was a natural choice due to her close ties with people in the Seton organization, Doke said.

Cox is a former president of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and member of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Ben Eckert, manager of Medical Education Programs at UT Southwestern, said a search committee for the regional dean position selected Cox based on her expertise and understanding of how to develop the program in Central Texas.

“Her sense of commitment to excellence in medical education sets her apart from others,” Eckert said.