TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Gov. Greg Abbott spoke at the groundbreaking of the new $308 million UT Tyler Medical Education Building on Monday.

Abbott spoke in a ceremony after being introduced by several other officials including UT System Chairman and former Mayor of Tyler, Kevin Eltife, UT Chancellor James Milliken and UT Tyler President Kirk Calhoun.

Photo of Greg Abbott speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the new UT Tyler Medical Education Building

“As I was coming in, there was a 10-year-old girl who came up to me and wanted to take a picture with me, and we did, and she told me that she wanted to be a doctor and she wanted to go to medical school right here in Tyler, Texas,” Abbott said.

The UT Tyler School of Medicine building is expected to be completed by March 2025.

The governor said that this new medical school would be changing the future of East Texas forever.

“What you are doing in Tyler, Texas today is making a generational change in the arc of the future of East Texas, with the establishment of the first medical school in East Texas,” Abbott said.

The Medical Education Building is a five-story and nearly 248,000-square-foot facility to be built in Tyler’s Midtown District. It will connect by skybridge to the UT Heath East Texas Hospital.

Abbott said East Texas deserves better healthcare and “now, they are going to get it.”

Photo from the groundbreaking ceremony at the UT Tyler Medical Education Building

During the ceremony, Eltife said the groundbreaking marks “a monumental day.” The UT Tyler School of Medicine was founded with the goal of improving quality of life and health in East Texas by addressing the physician shortage and lack of access to care in the area.

“Forget our titles, forget our stations in life, forget our backgrounds,” Eltife said. “We are all here because we care about future generations and we want to pay forward the blessings that have been bestowed upon all of us.”

School officials expect around 40 students to be enrolled each year. The first class is scheduled to enroll in summer 2023.

UT Tyler President Calhoun said they are thrilled about this new medical school and what this will do for the medical community in East Texas.

“This really solidifies the East Texas community’s (medical) reputation,” he said.