Sam Houston State University has found a doctor to lead the medical school it hopes to have up and running in the next five years or so.
Following a national search, Dr. Charles Henley, associate dean of clinical affairs at Marian University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Indiana, has been named founding dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Sam Houston State University.
His appointment takes effect on Nov. 1.
"As the new dean, I see great potential in having Sam Houston State University develop its own College of Osteopathic Medicine in Texas,” Henley said. “The new college will establish a great tradition that will allow the university to see growth and development at a high level of achievement. I look forward to serving the university as the dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.”
Henley was the founding associate dean for clinical affairs at Marian University and currently teaches the public health and epidemiology courses to medical students. He is also an inspector for the Council on Osteopathic College Accreditation.
Before coming to Marian, he was professor and vice-chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine in Tulsa, where he held the Founders and Associates Endowed Chair for Research and was responsible for building the clinical research program for primary care.
“Dr. Henley’s experience in planning and implementing the medical school at Marian University and his stellar reputation in academic medicine were critical to his selection,” said Sam Houston State President Dana Hoyt.
“Our thorough search yielded outstanding candidates from across the nation,” she said. “I am confident that Dr. Henley will provide the necessary foundation and framework that will move the osteopathic medicine program at Sam Houston State University into a level of excellence and success, while maintaining our traditional values and supporting our mission.”
The SHSU program will focus on osteopathic medicine leading to a doctorate degree in osteopathic medicine, a D.O., rather than an allopathic program leading to a doctorate degree of medicine, M.D.
Osteopathic medicine includes all traditional medical training, but focuses on disease prevention and getting patients to become part of the healing process. Osteopathic physicians are statistically more likely to specialize in primary health care and practice in underserved areas.
Texas ranks 47th in primary care physicians per 100,000 population, according to the Texas Physician Workforce Profile.
“As the population of Montgomery and surrounding counties continues to grow, Sam Houston State University is expanding healthcare programs to meet the corresponding workforce demands of both the region and state,” Hoyt said. “The timing is right, and with the strong support and endorsement of business, government and community leadership, SHSU is on a trajectory to being a leader in primary healthcare education.”
The idea for a medical school got off the ground when Johnson Development Corp. offered SHSU a parcel of land at the former site of Camp Strake in Montgomery County, which is where the medical school is still planned to be built.
Sam Houston’s medical school will be the first one to be built in Montgomery County.
“We envision this as a program serving all of East Texas,” Dr. Michael Lacourse, dean of SHSU’s College of Health Sciences, told The Item in 2014. “We intend to seek partnerships with all of the hospitals all over.”