TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine received word from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) that it has been granted preliminary accreditation.

According to a press release, this monumental milestone will allow the school to begin recruiting for its first class of medical students for 2023.

“Many individuals have worked for years with relentless determination to make this medical school a reality. We have celebrated milestones along the way, and this is another significant one, because it means we are now ready to open the doors to medical students in Tyler,” said Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. “By extension, it means opening doors to individuals who seek greater access to health care. It means enhancing our region as a destination point to live, train, work, and contribute to our economic vitality.”

“This achievement is the result of a transformative gift from the ETMC Foundation and both the visionary governance and the resources from the UT System Board of Regents.  Additional support from elected leadership, donors and the community were essential to the medical school moving forward. I thank our vice provost, dean and faculty for their expertise in guiding us through this complex process and bringing us one step closer to enrolling our first class in July 2023.”

Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, UT Tyler president

The university has announced that Brigham C. Willis, MD, Med, FAAP has been established as the founding dean of the school, according to the release. Willis has previously served as the associate dean for medical education at the University of California, Riverside, and will now lead the recruitment efforts of new students and establishment of the curriculum and facilities for the school.

“This notification allows us to launch the next phase of accepting student applications and conducting interviews,” he said. “I am very excited about the next phases in the process.”

After years of strategic planning, which included funding, partnerships and legislative and regents’ authorization, the UT Tyler School of Medicine met the established standards for structure, function and performance set by the LCME.

“I am grateful for the guidance and support of Chairman Eltife and the UT System Board of Regents and executive leaders, the Texas Legislature, faculty, staff and community members for joining forces to pave the way for our new school of medicine,” said Julie Philley, MD, executive vice president for health affairs and vice provost. “I am excited to not only participate in its launch, but to witness firsthand the way it will transform our community.”

The press release states that the new School of Medicine’s vision is to “train committed, empathic, diverse and exceptional physician leaders to significantly reduce health disparities and enhance the quality of life in rural East Texas.”

Full accreditation for the school is expected to be granted after the first class of students has been enrolled and the LMCE has determined that it demonstrates the effectiveness of the education program and continued compliance.

“From regents to elected officials, community leaders to philanthropists, and the UT Tyler leadership, everyone has shared in the equity in this effort, and I could not be happier for UT Tyler and East Texas,” added Eltife.