50 Heroes: Dr. Ralph Willard

July 13, 2020

Dr. Ralph Willard Web

During his tenure at HSC Fort Worth, Dr. Ralph Willard helped establish education, research and community service as the pillars that support the institution’s commitment to finding solutions for a healthier community, preventing disease and fostering a collaborative learning environment.

They are the ideas woven into the fabric of the Health Science Center you see today.

In 1975, Dr. Willard, a decorated World War II bomber pilot and surgeon, moved from Michigan to call North Texas his newest home and became the Dean of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. In 1981, he was named the second President of TCOM.

Aside from establishing the areas that formed the HSC mission, Dr. Willard led the evolution of TCOM’s physical presence from a renovated bowling alley and various leased facilities into a modern campus in Fort Worth’s Cultural District.

During his tenure, the tallest building on campus, the Carl E. Everett Education and Administration Building (formerly Medical Education 1) was completed in 1978, and the Research and Education Building (formerly Medical Education 2) opened in 1982. Students were finally able to say “good bye” to classes in Denton, as this building’s construction finally brought together all basic science teaching and research under one roof.

Although Texas was experiencing an economic downturn and there was concern from the Texas legislature regarding future funding, Dr. Willard persisted in his call for construction allocations from the state, and groundbreaking for TCOM’s third building began in 1984, nine months before Dr. Willard left his post as president.

We can thank Dr. Willard’s persistence for bringing to life the cohesive college campus that now serves our students, faculty, staff and alumni.


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ContributeHonor your HSC hero today! Please make a tribute gift, submit a photo or share a story that you value.

Join us throughout 2020 as we celebrate the people, events and innovations that made UNTHSC all it is today — and look ahead to the next 50 years.

For the 50th anniversary, team members nominated people whose contributions make them HSC Heroes. Each week, a new Hero will be revealed.

View the list of all our Hero profiles published so far this year. There is a new one each week.

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