The University of Houston names the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine after a $50 million donation from a Houston entrepreneur

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The University of Houston School of Medicine officially has a name after a multimillion-dollar donation from prominent Houston businessman Tillman Fertitta.

Fertitta, owner of the Houston Rockets and longtime chairman of the UH System Board of Regents, and his family have pledged $50 million to the University of Houston College of Medicine, the university announced Thursday.

The medical school was founded in 2019 with a mission to improve healthcare in underserved urban and rural communities where poor health outcomes are often more prevalent.

SEE ALSO: University of Houston Unveils Renderings of New College of Medicine

The college focuses on educating students committed to primary care and other required medical specialties.

A 2021 analysis found that 249 of Texas’ 254 counties have areas with a shortage of primary care physicians. The entire county has a shortage of 228 of them, almost double the number in 2019.

The Fertitta Family College of Medicine aims to counteract this by aiming for at least half of its graduate students to choose to practice primary care, while only about 20% of medical students nationwide do so.

“Our family is so passionate about this medical school and its pursuit of health equity that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code, or socioeconomic status, has an equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible,” Fertitta said in one press release . “I hope that the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine will fundamentally transform the health and well-being of Texans by increasing access to quality healthcare, expanding medical knowledge, and improving patient care through health and wellness research.”

Here’s the breakdown of the $50 million donation:

  • $10 million will fund five endowed chairs to recruit faculty who are national stars in their fields and focused on healthcare innovation.
  • A $10 million endowment grant fund will be established to support endowment research grants/medal student grants.
  • $10 million will cover start-up costs for the Fertitta Family College of Medicine to enhance research activities, including facilities, equipment, program costs and research grants/graduate grants.
  • $20 million will go to the Fertitta Dean’s Endowed Fund to support research-promoting activities.

The portion of the donation that funds the endowed chairs for faculty recruitment will be matched on a one-to-one basis as part of UH’s “$100M Challenge” for chairs and professorships, bringing the funded fund to $20 million. dollars doubled.

With the announcement, UH launched the $100 million college fundraising campaign to support scholarships, faculty recruitment and operational needs for equipment, programs, student success initiatives and more.

“Tilman Fertitta and his family have made a visionary investment, so it is only fitting that this new, ambitious and forward-thinking medical school bears the Fertitta name. She will have a remarkable and lasting impact on Houston and the world. The Fertitta family’s amazing generosity, financial security and the longevity of the medical school will be cemented for generations to come,” said UH President Renu Khator.

The Fertitta Family College of Medicine will have an estimated regional economic impact of $377 million by 2029 and will expand health-related research at the University of Houston by an estimated 400% over the next 30 years, according to UH.

The first two classes of medical students have taken classes in the Health 2 building, which is the medical school’s temporary home until construction of a new $80 million building is completed this summer.

The three-story building sits on a 43-acre, previously undeveloped campus that will be part of a future life sciences complex on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

This isn’t the first building at UH with Fertitta’s namesake. In 2016, he donated $20 million to UH Athletics to convert the basketball arena into the Fertitta Center.

In addition to the Houston Rockets, Fertitta owns restaurant giant Landry’s and the Golden Nugget casinos and hotels.

SEE ALSO: Inside UH’s Fertitta Center

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Dais Johnston

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