UT School of Public Health Announces Creation of Fleming Center
The University of Texas School of Public Health announced today the creation of the Texas Medical Center’s first center for healthcare management education and research.
Established with a leadership gift from attorney and philanthropist George Fleming on behalf of his late father, the George McMillan Fleming Center for Healthcare Management at the UT School of Public Health will offer MPH and DrPH/Ph.D. programs with a healthcare management concentration to current and future leaders of institutions in the Texas Medical Center and worldwide.
The school’s faculty in the Division of Management, Policy and Community Health, in partnership with faculty at The University of Texas at Austin’s law school, will provide students with effective leadership tools for managing healthcare institutions while emphasizing how public health and disease prevention play into the daily operations of hospitals and clinics.
“We want to look upstream at health policy and downstream to the importance of community health,” said Osama Mikhail, the newly appointed director of the Fleming Center and professor of management, policy and community health at the UT School of Public Health. “The business of health care is complex. Offering a broad look at public health issues while equipping our students with an education in business management and public policy will help them succeed, and, as a result, enhance our healthcare delivery system.”
Guy Parcel, Ph.D., dean of the UT School of Public Health, said that as the only school of public health in the Texas Medical Center, he feels it is the school’s obligation to offer this program to meet the current needs in healthcare management.
“What has been lacking for many years in the menu of TMC offerings is a complementary world-class education and research program in healthcare management and policy – a program that provides research and education focuses on the issues, knowledge and necessary skills associated with managing resource intensive, technologically advanced and complex healthcare delivery systems,” Parcel said. “Now, the Fleming Center will fill that void.”
In addition to the degree programs, the Fleming Center will offer faculty in the school’s Division of Management, Policy and Community Health the opportunity to conduct state-of-the-art research in healthcare management.
“We need to ensure the most thorough and comprehensive attention to management and policy issues in the dynamic and complex healthcare arena,” said Mikhail, who is also senior vice president for strategic planning at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
The announcement of the center came during “Bridging The Divide: From Institutional Health to Community Well-being,” a panel discussion in the UT School of Public Health’s auditorium. Panelists included Michael Jhin, former CEO of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System; Larry Mathis, former CEO of The Methodist Hospital System; and Dan S. Wilford, former CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System.
The event paid tribute to the late George McMillan Fleming, a past president of the Texas Hospital Association and healthcare leader of numerous hospitals in the state, including The Methodist Hospital.
His son, George Fleming, a University of Texas graduate who is the managing partner at Fleming & Associates, L.L.P., said the event and the creation of the center is a fitting way to recognize his father, who was known throughout the Texas Medical Center and the state as one who led by example.
“You are giving me a chance to honor my Dad, and you are giving me a chance to do it at UT,” Fleming said.
During his career in healthcare administration, George McMillan Fleming held leadership positions at what was then the VA Hospital in Houston, Mainland Center Hospital in Texas City, The Methodist Hospital, Santa Rosa Medical Center in San Antonio and San Jacinto Methodist Hospital in Baytown.
“George was intelligent, compassionate, and far-sighted,” said Mathis, who knew George McMillan Fleming for more than 30 years and worked with him at The Methodist Hospital and the Texas Hospital Association. “He was a very effective hospital executive who put the needs of the community he served first. He was one of a kind.”
Fleming said his father drew on his experience as an educator and, in times when difficult decisions were in order, he had a gift for being able to disagree without being disagreeable. He would weave in stories, often from his childhood, to defuse stressful situations, and he embraced the diversity of the Texas Medical Center, Fleming said of his father.
Fleming said he believes his father would have enjoyed the collaborative nature of the new center, which will partner with other entities in The University of Texas System and also create an advisory board made up of members of the Texas Medical Center to guide the direction and priorities of the Fleming Center.
Mikhail said the TMC advisory board will help to identify current issues in healthcare management that UT School of Public Health faculty could address through research. Partnerships with other institutions in the Texas Medical Center could also lead to internships and employment opportunities for the Fleming Center’s students and graduates, Mikhail added.
Leon J. Leach, an executive vice president at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, will chair the advisory board. James Langabeer II, associate professor of management, policy and community health at the UT School of Public Health, will serve as the Fleming Center’s associate director.
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