RICHARDSON, Texas (Dec. 7, 2006) — Dr. J. Scott Wright’s strategic plan for the pre-health program at The University of Texas at Dallas includes raising its national profile and getting more students accepted by medical and dental schools – a process he knows quite well.
For the past decade, UT Dallas’ new Health Professions Advising Center director and chief health professions advisor was director of admissions at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He said UT Dallas may be the only institution in Texas – and one of only a few in the nation – where a pre-med advisor has worked on the other side of the system.
“We’ll be giving students an insider’s perspective on what it takes to be a competitive applicant to medical and dental schools,” he said.
Wright joined UT Dallas on Sept. 1. He is replacing former associate dean Dr. Joe Wood, who is stepping down from the post after nine years at the university and 45 years in medical and dental education. When Wood began at UT Dallas in 1997, the pre-health program produced 20 to 25 medical and dental school applicants. This year it will graduate more than 200.
“Working closely with the very bright students and dedicated faculty members at UT Dallas has led to some of my most gratifying experiences,” said Wood, who plans to continue teaching in the neurosciences. Wood and Wright have been working closely during the transition.
“Scott Wright is a most capable and experienced individual,” Wood said.
Dr. Michael Coleman, dean of undergraduate education, said the university is fortunate to have Wright’s talent and expertise as part of its pre-health preparation program. “His experience on both sides of the street with regard to medical school admissions is very rare and will serve our students well.”
Wright’s final position at UT Southwestern was as director of faculty development and curriculum evaluation in the Office of Medical Education. Before joining the medical school, he was director of admissions at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Ark., from 1993-1996 and assistant to the vice president for student affairs and assistant director of student services at Dallas Baptist University from 1989-1993.
He earned a doctorate of education in higher education from the University of North Texas in 1999. He also received master’s and bachelor’s degrees in history from The University of Texas at Arlington in 1991 and 1987. In addition, he attended the Harvard University Graduate School of Education Institutes for Higher Education in 1998 and Alumni Seminar on Leadership issues in 1999 and 2004.
As the chief admissions officer for UT Southwestern’s medical, graduate and allied health schools he served as a liaison to deans and faculty members; designed and implemented application review processes and database systems; reviewed applications; served on admissions committees; and counseled applicants. The experience gave him a thorough understanding of what constitutes a quality medical school applicant and he intends to share that knowledge with UT Dallas students.
Dr. David J. Jones, professor and associate dean for admissionsat The University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio, said Wright was a very important contributor to the student admissions process across the Texas medical schools.
“The (UT Dallas) undergraduate advising system has gained a great resource and friend of the student,” he said.
Bob Alpern, now dean of the Yale University School of Medicine, added, “At UT Southwestern, Scott maintained administrative excellence while developing innovative programs that transformed the admissions process. He placed the entire application on our Intranet and ran admissions committee meetings with live connections to the Intranet and Internet, and he was able to get any information about applicants or their schools within seconds.”
In addition to sharing his application expertise, Wright also has been charged with expanding the educational opportunities for UT Dallas students who have medical or dental school ambitions. In the coming weeks he expects to roll out a strategic plan for accomplishing that.
“It will fit like a hand in a glove with the strategic plan of the institution and that’s because the health professions program fits right in with what this institution has been, is and will be,” Wright said. “Students have many options about where they can go to school. We want them to look at UT Dallas … and say, ‘This is a school that has a lot to offer. They are doing it right. They are putting resources into it and it shows that they care.’ ”
Chief on Wright’s to-do list is formalizing the health professions program by tying together related courses and adding co-curricular activities, such as clinical and research experiences through UT Southwestern. He is also considering expanding current courses in professionalism and medical Spanish, adding other course subjects and offering special lecture series in topics as diverse as medical ethics and music, art and medicine. He already has initiated a student advisory committee and is forming an alumni advisory committee to build relationships and obtain ideas for improving the program.
“The health professions program here at UT Dallas is a great program now, particularly under the auspices of Dr. Wood,” Wright said. “I foresee building upon what he has done – bringing my own personality, my own perspective – to make good things happen here.”
Wright, 42 (until 12/11), lives in Flower Mound with his wife, Becky, and three children, Morgan, 14, Dorothy, 11, and Marshall, 5.
About UT Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.