University Medical Center at Brackenridge

Michael Thomas/AP Images for Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation announced a ten year commitment to turn Austin in a center of health care excellence. The foundation is donating $50 million to the University of Texas’s new medical school. It will be called the Dell Medical School.

The foundation also pledged $10 million to Austin and Travis County community health quality and access programs over the next decade.

Callie Richmond via Texas Tribune

Despite its glowing reputation, Austin has faced a gap when compared with other major metropolitan areas: the lack of a medical school and the cutting-edge research it can provide.

But that gap appears to be closing after Travis County voters approved a five-cent property tax hike this month to help finance a plan to overhaul the region’s approach to health care — including the construction of a research-intensive medical school that will be affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Last month, hopes for a vote on urban rail were dashed.

Despite years of discussion, preliminary routes, and an estimate of the cost, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell shot down the idea, saying plans lacked “a sufficient level of certainty” to put a proposal before voters in November.

There were political considerations too. Momentum’s building in the long push for a medical school at UT-Austin – and should public funding be required, backers had warned against asking voters to approve tax increases for urban rail and a medical school all at once.   

This week, flyers started appearing in Austin mailboxes, supporting the concept of a local medical school.