Inaugural Dean Announced for the New UT Tyler School of Health Professions
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February 21, 2023
Health Affairs Marketing and Communications Specialist
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler
Theresa Byrd, DrPH, MPH, RN, has been selected as the inaugural dean of The University of Texas at Tyler School of Health Professions, beginning March 2023.
“We were privileged to have had a diverse range of qualified candidates to consider for the dean’s position,” President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP, said. “Dr. Byrd’s impressive depth of knowledge and thirty-seven years of experience in health care education demonstrated that she was a perfect fit, and I am delighted that she has accepted the role to lead our faculty and educate our students.”
Formed in 2022, the UT Tyler School of Health Professions includes four academic departments: health care policy, economics and management; kinesiology; public health; and rehabilitation sciences. With a mission to train future health care professionals for East Texas, the new school ensures that native East Texans won’t have to leave the region to study health care and could help to meet projected health care needs in the future.
The program offers in-person classes at the main UT Tyler campus and the Health Science Center at UT Tyler, as well as online. The Health Science Center joined UT Tyler to provide the region with additional higher education and health care opportunities. Less than a week after this was publicly announced in February 2020, the East Texas Medical Center Foundation donated an unprecedented $80 million to support the university’s goal. The organizations officially merged in December 2020. The School of Health Professions is one of the many academic programs that has been created because of the merger.
Dr. Byrd’s leadership will be essential for guiding the new School of Health Professions and shaping the school in its early years. She’s passionate about working with US-Mexico border and migrant populations and understanding the motivations that fuel people’s decisions. Currently, she’s a co-investigator on a CDC-funded project to understand men's decision-making in prostate cancer treatment and to develop a decision-aid for prostate cancer treatment decisions.
"I’m excited to announce that Dr. Theresa Byrd has been appointed as the inaugural dean of the School of Health Professions,” said Dr. Julie V. Philley, UT Tyler executive vice president of health affairs. “I look forward to seeing the contributions she will make to the School of Health Professions.”
Dr. Byrd has numerous publications in well-known journals, such as “Cancer” and the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine.” She’s also received multiple awards from the Public Health Education and Health Promotion (PHEHP). Her previous experience as the chair of the Department of Public Health at the Texas Tech University School of Population and Public Health, along with numerous other higher education positions, make her the ideal candidate to be the inaugural dean for the school.
Dr. Byrd obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Arizona at Tucson, a Master of Public Health in behavioral sciences and health education from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health, and a Doctor of Public Health in health promotion and health education from the UT Houston Health Science Center.
“I look forward to serving as the School of Health Professions dean,” said Dr. Byrd. "I am deeply honored to have been selected for this role, and I am eager to train the future health care professionals of East Texas."
With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs to 10,000 students. UT Tyler recently merged with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (now known as UT Tyler Health Science Center). Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center (HSC) and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.