50 Heroes: Gibson D. Lewis

Gibson Web

The pathway allowing the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine to become the multi-discipline Health Science Center we celebrate today was paved in May 1975.  Texas State Representative Gibson D. Lewis deserves much of the credit, as he partnered with Senator Betty Andujar to sponsor (and shepherd) Senate Bill 216 through both houses and to signature by Governor Dolph Briscoe.

Senate Bill 216 established TCOM as a separate institution under the governance of North Texas State University and its Board of Regents, thereby transitioning the small private medical school into affiliation with a state institution.  With that transition came the steady flow of public support needed to fuel future growth and ambitions.

Lewis, who later served five terms as Texas Speaker of the House, was a dynamic champion of the legislation, which spawned a tradition of bi-partisan support that has allowed UNTHSC to flourish ever since. “Gib’s early support for TCOM and Osteopathic Medical Education paved the way for much of what we have today,” assures HSC Vice President of Governmental Affairs Danny Jensen. “He built a coalition of Tarrant County and rural legislators that understood the health care needs of Texas, and made sure we had the resources to address them.”

Speaker Lewis later authorized legislation allowing TCOM to acquire adjacent properties along Camp Bowie Boulevard at their appraised values.  This prompted multiple purchases to form our initial 16-acre campus.  Students who previously attended classes in locations across Fort Worth and Denton, were afforded the opportunity to learn and interact together – an opportunity the HSC continues to capitalize on today.

When opened in 1986, the building originally called Med Ed #3 was named the Gibson D. Lewis Health Science Library in tribute to this early and always-supportive voice in Austin.  Jensen added, “Luibel, Everett and Beyer, are considered the Founders of UNTHSC/TCOM, but I’ve always considered Speaker Lewis as the fourth. If you ask him, he will tell you what’s happened at the corner of Camp Bowie and Montgomery is his greatest Legislative achievement and one he is proud of every single day. That’s why he is so deserving of this recognition.”

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Honor 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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