“A medical school is a natural extension of UIW’s historical Mission in healthcare, which today includes outstanding programs in many fields such as nursing, pharmacy, optometry and physical therapy.”
Even by the fast-paced standards of UIW, the past few months have been a near-blur. Let me give you a brief recap of some of the major events.
In early May, the inaugural class of the Rosenberg School of Optometry walked the stage at our doctoral graduation. It was a beautiful ecumenical ceremony before a packed crowd at the Convocation Center that included the school’s namesakes, Sandra and Stanley Rosenberg.
Imam Abdur-Rahim Muhammad offered a blessing in Arabic and English. UIW Chaplain Fr. Tom Dymowski provided the homily and introduced Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, who delivered a keynote address full of humor and personal anecdotes.
It’s worth noting the historical significance of the graduation, as there are only 20 optometry schools on the United States mainland. Equally as important is that two-thirds of the optometry graduates were minorities, who continue to be severely underrepresented in the optometric profession.
Two days later, San Antonio Councilwoman Ivy Taylor served as the keynote speaker at the commencement ceremony for the undergraduate and master’s students before a full house at the Freeman Coliseum. She gave a timely, informative address to the largest graduating class in UIW history.
The following day we dedicated the new UIW Brainpower Center for Fencing and International Sports, which is located at St. Anthony Catholic High School. The $4 million center instantly became the toast of the fencing world. Courtney and Kelley Hurley, two sisters from San Antonio who won bronze medals in women’s team epee at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, called it one of the finest fencing facilities they’ve seen.
Many people deserve credit for making the Fencing Center a reality. However, let me single out one person who deserves special recognition, Professor Tim Henrich. Several years ago, Dr. Henrich approached me with, as he put it, a “crazy idea” involving fencing at UIW. Through many ups and downs, he remained a staunch advocate for fencing, and often, it was his boundless enthusiasm that allowed the project to move forward at key points in the process.
In early June, we dedicated the $8 million Bowden Eye Care and Health Center before a standing-room only audience that included many dignitaries from San Antonio’s Eastside, an area historically underserved by healthcare services. The three-story, 30,000 square-foot facility is named after Artemisia Bowden, who led St. Philip’s for 52 years.
The Bowden Center will focus on vision care, although nursing, nutrition and pharmaceutical services will also be offered. Because the center is located in an economically impoverished part of San Antonio, patients will be accepted regardless of their ability to pay.
A few days later, our board of trustees unanimously voted to authorize a feasibility study that could result in the opening of a $50 million UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) in 2016. There is one private medical school in the Southwestern U.S., and there are none located at faith-based universities. In fact, up until this year there were just four medical schools in the U.S. located at Catholic universities (a fifth is opening this fall). And while there are 29 D.O. schools in the country, only one is located in Texas.
A medical school is a natural extension of UIW’s historical Mission in healthcare, which today includes outstanding programs in many fields such as nursing, pharmacy, optometry and physical therapy. We chose the osteopathic (D.O.) track instead of the allopathic (M.D.) one for several reasons. While costs are important, we ultimately decided a D.O. program is much more compatible with our Mission due to its holistic approach to care. It stresses prevention, promotion and cure while putting an emphasis on the connection between the body, mind and spirit.
Although the feasibility study will be completed by March of next year, the board will spend the next few months investigating possible sites for the school. The final site recommendation will be presented to the board at its meeting in October.
I encourage you to read the rest of this issue to catch-up on what else has been happening at UIW, including a profile on Board Member Doyle Beneby, who is president and CEO of CPS Energy.
Remember, it’s because of your commitment to our community that we can continue fulfilling Incarnate Word’s goal of offering students the best possible educational opportunities within a context of faith. Please remember an investment in higher education is something that will yield returns for a lifetime for you, your family and our community.
Special blessings on you and your loved ones throughout 2013.
Louis J. Agnese Jr., Ph.D. President