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Executive Updates

Executive Updates from
Dr. Byington

January 2018: Health Science Center Strategic Update


I hope your spring semester is off to a great start. The New Year is a perfect time both for reflection on the past and for planning the future. Today, as I celebrate my one-year anniversary at Texas A&M, I remain incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be here at this critical time in health care and excited about all that is already underway. I am appreciative of the welcome that so many of you provided not only to me, but to my family. It's good to be home at Texas A&M!

I am very proud of the accomplishments of 2017, many of which were described in the year-in-review message. I know 2018 will be a year of continued change filled with positive growth and further integration.

Integration will be a central focus for the Health Science Center (HSC) in 2018. The deans of colleges of the HSC believe that our colleges can be stronger when we work together. Integration of efforts across the colleges will be a recurring theme. We intend to launch an integrated practice plan, leverage interprofessional education opportunities for all of our students, assess and develop our curriculum together, and work to identify collaborative, team-based research opportunities. We will also continue our commitment to integration of the HSC with Texas A&M University and the System member institutions.

Today, I would like to share our institutional goals for the HSC and how modifications to our structure will help us meet our goals. I will also address changes to our HSC central administration leadership team as they relate to our institutional goals.

Institutional Goals

  • Integrate fully with Texas A&M University and Texas A&M System members. The HSC is proud to be part of Texas A&M University and will work diligently to align our policies and processes. We will also look for opportunities to partner with System institutions in creating pipeline programs for undergraduates interested in the health professions and explore new degree opportunities.
  • Develop an integrated, branded clinical practice plan delivering primary care and mental health services. The practice will serve our campus and community and provide a platform for team-based interprofessional education.
  • Build and foster interprofessional opportunities for education across the health professions. These will include opportunities for our students to develop and practice entrustable activities. This spring we will have several opportunities including staffing Saturday community clinics at HEB locations in Bryan and College Station, Disaster Day at Disaster City on February 16, and participating in innovative readiness training with the Army and Army National Guard in South Texas in June. We are also working to build an interprofessional presence at the Agape Clinic in Dallas and, in South Texas, we are planning to pilot an interprofessional clinic at Coastal Bend Health Education Center later this year.
  • Leverage research capacity and strengths across the HSC and partnerships with the A&M community to expand our research portfolio. Opportunities include calls for proposals with CPRIT, our new Global Institute for Hispanic Health, and the President's Excellence Fund, including the Triads for Transformation T3 program.


We have worked closely with the leadership of the HSC and the Office of the Provost of Texas A&M University to align our organizational structure in a way that will support the process of integration across our colleges and across the campus. We are pleased to announce the following changes that we believe will support these goals.

  • Faculty and Academic Affairs: This office will continue to lead the integration of HSC with Texas A&M to ensure consistency of policies and practices.
    • Amy Fairchild, PhD, MPH, who serves as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the School of Public Health (SPH), has been elevated to Associate Vice President for Faculty and Academic Affairs. She will continue serving in her SPH role while taking on this HSC leadership position. Dr. Fairchild is internationally known for her work in history and public health ethics.
    • Vernon Tesh, PhD, will now serve as the College of Medicine's Associate Dean for Faculty, allowing for a greater focus on the needs of the college and faculty-related issues. His expertise in faculty affairs will be leveraged in this role and he will continue to be an incredible asset to the College of Medicine leadership team and faculty.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: While we have diversity advocates and leaders within each of the colleges, we've observed the need for a new office at the HSC level to help integrate our efforts and drive improvements in our culture.
    • Our College of Dentistry is recognized as one of the most diverse schools of dentistry in the nation. In an effort to learn from their success, we have asked Lavern Holyfield, DDS, the College of Dentistry diversity officer, to serve as chair of the HSC diversity team. This position will be an annual appointment that will rotate between our diversity committee, which - in addition to Dr. Holyfield - includes: Lisako McKyer, PhD, MPH, with the School of Public Health; Juan Bustamante, PhD, with the College of Pharmacy; Dianne Kraft, PhD, with the College of Medicine; and Jodie Gary, PhD, MSN, with the College of Nursing.
  • "Finance and Administration" previously included compliance, facilities, finance, human resources, and information technology (IT). The structure of the unit has changed significantly. Human Resources has integrated with Texas A&M and IT will be fully integrated in the near future. The HSC has retained offices for Compliance, Facilities, and Finance:
    • Compliance and Risk Management: This team will provide support, management and oversight of multiple risk areas including privacy, HIPAA and insurance.
      • Matt Walton, who previously served as the Director of Risk Management, was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Compliance and Risk Management. This promotion recognizes Matt's expertise and growth of his team to provide greater oversight of compliance, privacy and risk for our practice plan, interprofessional educational activities and research.
    • Facilities: Barry Nelson is now the Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President for Real Estate and Facilities Operations. This move leverages Dr. Nelson's expertise and provides senior leader oversight of real estate projects in Houston related to our priority areas, including the EnMed and EnHealth programs. Dr. Nelson will also oversee capital projects in the Brazos Valley related to MREB II completion, the establishment of our practice plan and facility operations across the HSC.
    • Finance: Leading this team is Jeff Burton, who previously served as Associate Vice President, Fiscal Services. Jeff was promoted to Associate Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and he will be instrumental in our financial planning for the future, especially during this time of fiscal challenges and opportunities for growth. Jeff will continue to work closely with each college as we integrate our budgeting process and align with Texas A&M University.
  • Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives: This new office will manage our many community facing organizations, including Coastal Bend Health Education Center, Healthy South Texas, and the Global Institute for Hispanic Health (GIHH). Integrating these programs under one leader will help leverage the strength and impact of efforts to serve our fellow Texans.
    • Leading this team, we are internally recruiting an Associate Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives, a .5 FTE role.
    • I'm happy to announce that leading our work with Driscoll Children's Hospital to form GIHH will be Jamie Fergie, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Driscoll and now Director of GIHH. This partnership will advance the health of the Hispanic community, ensuring the needs of this population are addressed when developing new drugs and life-saving therapies. This initiative fits nicely with our work to improve the health of rural populations throughout the state. I would like to thank College of Pharmacy Dean Indra K. Reddy, PhD, for his commitment to GIHH as a member of the governing board. Dr. Reddy was instrumental in pushing forward the initial request for proposals for the new initiative.

Practice Plan

  • Clinical Strategy: This new office will develop an integrated practice plan that will have an emphasis on rural population health management. All licensed professionals from HSC colleges will have an opportunity to participate in the Texas A&M branded practice plan and our School of Public Health, through the Center for Health Organization Transformation, led by Dr. Bita Kash, will serve as the research arm for the plan. The practice plan will serve as a platform for the interprofessional education of our students and will offer sites where our faculty can practice. The practice represents a new opportunity to generate clinical income for all the colleges and schools across the Health Science Center. The Clinical Strategy team will also build and enhance our partnerships with area hospitals and health care systems.
    • I am happy to announce that we have filled the position of Associate Vice President for Clinical Strategy and Chief Clinical Officer. Steven D. Brown, MD, formerly the Vice President of Clinical Operations for the Trinity Health Provider Network, will lead an initiative to create a practice plan for the Health Science Center. Dr. Brown's expertise of health care networks and ability to effectively oversee group practice with an eye on population health will be invaluable for our educational approach and our responsibility to improve health care and the health of all Texans.

Interprofessional Education

  • Faculty Development and Interprofessional Education: Interprofessional Education (IPE) will drive the competency of faculty to conduct, model, and advance opportunities for students in different health professions to train together in a variety of settings including the classroom and experiential opportunities in clinical locations or in the community. IPE is critical for the future of health care delivery and thus critical for our future. Therefore, we are investing in faculty development. This new office will train and onboard new faculty members, lead workshops and trainings, and provide continuing medical education. Faculty Development programs will be designed and deployed to support all faculty members across the Health Science Center. Faculty Development will ensure faculty receive the support and training they need to deliver education excellence for students.
    • Emily Wilson, PhD, who currently serves as Professor in the Department of Medical Physiology and as Executive Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, was elevated to Associate Vice President of Faculty Development and Interprofessional Education for the Health Science Center.
    • Chris Kaunas, MPH, was promoted to Executive Director for Interprofessional Education and Research, and will be instrumental in working with all units and colleges within the HSC to streamline our IPE efforts.
    • I would also like to thank the 24-member IPE task force, comprised of faculty and staff from each of our colleges, charged with elevating IPE across the HSC.


  • Research Office: We are recommitting to the research mission of the HSC and working to leverage our strengths. We will launch a new Office of Research that will advance the research mission and vision of the institution by nurturing students, trainees, and faculty at all ranks engaged in research. Our goal is to advance scholarship and sustain and grow our extramural research portfolio.
  • Candidates for the Health Science Center Associate Vice President for Research visited our Bryan/College Station campus in December and finalists will visit again to present public presentations on January 22 from 2-3pm (HPEB LL43A with video connections to: Dallas - COD 618 Board Room; Houston - ALKB 204 Lecture Hall; Kingsville - COP 247 Classroom; Round Rock S206J Board Room; Temple MEC 407C Dean's Board Room) and January 31 from 2-3pm (HPEB LL43A with video connections to: Dallas - COD 728 Conf. Room; Houston - ALKB 204 Lecture Hall; Kingsville - COP 247 Classroom; Round Rock S206J Board Room; Temple MEC 407C Dean's Board Room). I appreciate the service of Marcia Ory, PhD, from the School of Public Health, and David Threadgill, PhD, from the College of Medicine, who chair the search committee and the time commitment of all of those from across the HSC who have served as members of this important committee.
  • I am also excited to announce two recent internal hires who will work with Dr. Emily Wilson to develop programs to support the faculty development of investigators:
    • Hubert Amrein, PhD, will serve as Director of Research Faculty Development, working to strengthen research submissions and success of research grants. Dr. Amrein is a Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine in the College of Medicine and is a nationally and internationally recognized researcher in the field of behavioral neuroscience. He has served on NIH study sections and will bring experience and vision to this position.
    • Jian (Jerry) Q. Feng, PhD, will serve as Associate Director of Research Faculty Development. Dr. Feng is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Science in the College of Dentistry. He is an expert in the field of tooth and craniofacial development and has experience in mentoring junior faculty in the grant writing process. Dr. Feng has served on numerous NIH study sections and has developed a successful grant mentoring program in the College of Dentistry.

Finally, I look forward to welcoming the new College of Nursing dean in the very near future. I appreciate the service of Regina Bentley, EdD, RN, CNE, who stepped into the interim roll in the fall.

Thank you for your continued commitment and for your support as we outline a more efficient structure and integrated future. I will continue to provide information through these Strategic Updates. If you have questions or feedback, please feel free to reach out to

With gratitude,

Carrie L. Byington, MD