Dr. Ronald Cook, chair of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine, was named the Lubbock Osteopathic Endowed Chair in Family Medicine Monday.
The Lubbock Osteopathic Fund presented $1.1 million to the school for the establishment of this position during an event honoring Cook, a local health authority for the City of Lubbock.
Steven Berk, Tech HSC School of Medicine dean, said the endowed chair is one of the highest academic honors a university can bestow on a faculty member.
"Those who hold an endowed chair are among our most prestigious and valued faculty," he said. "This chair is particularly valuable to us, as it honors the department that has developed the most innovative primary-care program in the United States, the Family Medicine Accelerated Track, and is ranked around eighth in the country among allopathic schools in producing family medicine physicians."
Through the help of an opportunity plan that was a subdivision of the Lubbock Osteopathic Fund, Cook said he received a $10,000-loan as a third-year medical student, and some of his student debt was later forgiven when he was practicing in Lubbock.
"At least $20,000, at the time, of my debt was forgiven because of the Lubbock Osteopathic Fund and their generosity and their insight down the road," he said.
After finishing his residency in Lubbock, Cook said he stayed in the city and became a faculty member.
When he was a third-year resident and new faculty member, Cook said Patrick Hanford, Lubbock Osteopathic Fund president, invited him to join the program. He said he was on the fund's board and was president for a short period of time.
"And so, overtime, through Dr. Hanford's suggestion, we got to bring it back to the Health Sciences Center here," he said, "and so, as a result, we get to make this announcement, and it's fantastic that we get to have money for the school."
Forming a committee to decide how the proceeds will be distributed is Cook's next step, he said.
"I still, in this case, get to give away money. That's so much fun, but we'll have a committee that does it," he said. "Thank you so much Dr. Berk for this opportunity, and certainly it's a grand opportunity today."