TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Bob Garrett, president of the R.W. Fair Foundation, announced that the 40 students of the inaugural class of the UT Tyler medical school will receive 4-year tuition free scholarship.

“This once-in-a-generation opportunity is a natural choice for us to stretch beyond our comfort level, and we felt compelled to help lead early our community and the East Texas region in giving beyond what the normal limits are,” Garrett said.

He said this announcement marks the largest gift in the history of his organization.

“One of the driving factors of having a medical school in East Texas is we really are one of the most underserved part of the state in terms of healthcare out in rural areas,” UT Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife said. “Our whole goal is to have kids from East Texas go to medical school here, graduate here and stay here and practice here. This scholarship for all those 40 students will make that happen faster.”

Eltife, a former Tyler mayor, said the community has a way of coming together.

“I’ve never seen any problem arise in this community that the community didn’t rally around and fix it and solve it,” Eltife said. “This medical school is the perfect example of that. A short two years ago we set our mind to creating a medical school here, and here we are two years later. Not only are we going to have a medical school here, we’re going to have scholarship funds for the first 40 students”

The UT System Board of Regents approved a proposal for the school in February 2020. It was approved by the Texas Legislature back in May.

The plan has received wide support from multiple politicians, including:

  • State Rep. Matt Schaefer
  • State Rep. Travis Clardy
  • State Rep. Dan Flynn
  • State Rep. Cole Hefner
  • State Rep. Jay Dean
  • State Rep. Chriss Paddie
  • State Rep. Gary VanDeaver
  • Tyler Mayor Martin Heines
  • Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran
  • State Sen. Robert Nichols
  • State Sen. Bryan Hughes

The economic impact of a medical school is projected to be significant. The Perryman Group, a Texas economic research and analysis firm with ties to the region for more than 40 years, credited existing UT facilities in Tyler with providing an annual economic impact of $1.7 billion, including $80.1 million in tax receipts and the creation of 21,529 jobs.

Local shop owners are ready for the new college to come to town and say it should increase their revenue. 

“It’s surprising. We have been in business for 20 years and have gone with them. It will certainly, I’m sure, increase our business not only with the medical school but all of the people that go along with the medical school,” said CR Scrubs owner Richard Mead. 

Owners of CR Scrubs have been in Tyler since 1998 and have had a front-row seat to the growth of Tyler. Now with a medical school coming to Tyler, they can’t wait to see the impact. This new school will help provide more jobs bringing in more money for the community as a whole. 

“Every time something has happened it seems like the community has gotten stronger. The medical, financial community is just better,” Mead said. 

“So when you add a medical school to the 3 incredible hospitals we have and the medical care we are giving. You can imagine the research dollars, the business, the retirement communities, all of that, that will continue to grow and come here because of this. It will be quite phenomenal for the economy for many years to come,” says Eltife.