In 1981, Dr. John G. Bruhn, Dean at the time, proposed the formation of an external Advisory Council for the School of Health Professions. The proposed Council would be composed of outstanding and concerned citizens who would meet approximately twice each year for the following purposes:
- To provide ideas and suggestions to help the School better meet the educational and service needs in Texas, especially in our geographical area.
- To help disseminate information about the School and its programs to heighten its visibility in Texas.
- To offer advice about prospects for funding for new programs in the School.
- To help evaluate the effectiveness of current programs in the School.
Dr. William C. Levin, UTMB President, concurred with Dr. Bruhn's suggestion and submitted the proposal, with a list of ten prospective members, to the Chancellor and Board of Regents of the University of Texas System. Both received approval at the December 1981 meeting of the Board of Regents.
The Council met, for the first time, on February 20, 1982. Among the areas of concern addressed at the first meeting were the overshadowing of allied health interests by those of the medical school and the resulting difficulties of the SHP in obtaining its fair share of resources; the isolation from one another of students in the four schools on the UTMB campus, resulting in a lack of understanding of one another's chosen professions; a severe lack of affordable student housing; and a need to use alumni more effectively to increase the school's visibility.
Initially, Council meetings were chaired by Dr. Bruhn and staffed by the UTMB Development Office. Typically, they were held on Saturday, at the SHP, from 9:00 am to approximately 1:00 pm. The Council heard reports about school programs from the department chairs, engaged in open dialogue, and then, usually, met with the President of UTMB over lunch.
At first, the Council was slow to obtain donations for the School, although gifts from Marie Hall, a charter member of the Council, made it possible to establish the School's first computer lab and fund two special workshops. However, the Council's public relations efforts were successful, helping to attract and recruit some outstanding students.
Highlights of Council Development
The Board of Regents authorized an increase in Advisory Council membership from 10 to 12 in 1983, and a second increase, to 18, in 1986. In September, 1985, the Council participated in a joint retreat with the SHP Faculty Council to explore key issues in planning the future of the SHP. At this meeting the Advisory Council was assigned an expanded role that included the following activities: (1) gauge community needs and interests; (2) help market non-traditional educational programs; (3) challenge traditional thinking regarding educational programs on the part of the faculty and administration; (4) increase funding for academic skills enhancement, tutors, and especially, scholarships through benefits, planned giving campaigns and similar activities; and (5) serve as a resource in generating ideas, acquiring funding, obtaining mailing lists, coordinating programs, and providing feedback on the effectiveness of continuing education offerings. The expanded role of the Council, to assist the School with long-range planning, was delineated in the Council Bylaws, adopted in 1989.
The new bylaws designated three types of Council members' regular, emeritus, and ex officio. They called for the election of officers from among the members, and established standing Executive and Fund-Raising Committees.
Recent Growth and Development
Nineteen ninety-four heralded a time of positive change for the SHP Advisory Council. Late that year, the Board of Regents approved an increase in the regular membership to 25, the Council Bylaws were revised, and changes in the structure of the organization implemented. A spirit of cooperation among the medical, health professions, and nursing schools prevailed, and a new tradition came into being. In January 1995, for the first time, the advisory councils of the School of Health Professions and of the School of Nursing met on the same day, in conjunction with the meeting of the UTMB Development Board, which took place the following day. The members of the two councils lunched together, and all three groups participated in joint activities. In that same year, the UTMB Development Board bylaws were amended to include as members, those persons holding the office of chair in the School of Health Professions and School of Nursing Advisory Councils.
In 1997, the Advisory Council added a third annual meeting to its schedule. No bylaws change was necessary, and the third meeting, held in October or November, is called at the discretion of the chair. At its June 1998 meeting, the Council voted unanimously to take the lead in a campaign for the school's first endowed chair---a Distinguished Chair in Cognitive Rehabilitation.
The addition of a third annual meeting focused on financial campaigns proved beneficial and rewarding to council members and SHP faculty alike. The Advisory Council was successful in raising enough money to fund the school's first endowed chair---The Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation. Dr. Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Education and the Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences (our Ph.D. program) is the first holder of that chair.