A Southwestern Medical Foundation Board member for over 30 years, Bill Solomon has played an essential role in UT Southwestern’s remarkable journey to becoming one of the premier medical centers in the world.
Among his many accomplishments, his leadership as Chairman of Innovations in Medicine and Building the Future of Medicine – the two most successful fundraising campaigns in the medical school’s history – were especially consequential. Each campaign enabled the medical center, at critical points in its growth, to expand its physical size and recruit top clinical and research talent from across the country and around the world.
Solomon began his service in 1981, becoming a member of the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Medical Foundation. When the Foundation’s Heritage Society was formed in 1995, Solomon and his wife, Gay, became Charter Members.
During 2000, when the quiet phase of the Innovations in Medicine campaign was announced, Solomon stepped forward to assemble and then lead a committee of 150 civic and business leaders on an eight-year campaign toward a goal of raising $450 million. The campaign ultimately raised $772 million.
Early on, the Solomons committed a lead gift of $1 million. And in 2003, they added another $9 million to endow enhanced patient services and create the William T. and Gay F. Solomon Division of General Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern.
In 2004, Bill and Gay Solomon received the Foundation’s highest volunteer service honor: the Charles Cameron Sprague Community Service Award (now The Sprague Award). And in 2008, Bill was named Chairman of the Board of the Foundation, and led the organization during six years of transition and growth.
When the Building the Future of Medicine campaign, which supported construction of the $800 million William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, was announced in 2011, Solomon once again stepped forward to chair the campaign. The Solomons gave $1 million in support of the $200 million effort.
But Bill Solomon’s most enduring legacy occurred during the Innovations in Medicine Campaign, when he identified a need and then helped champion the solution: the Clinical Services Initiative.
“One of the things that became very apparent early on in the fundraising process,” Solomon recalled, “was that in talking to donor prospects, we found that the quality of their experience as patients had a lot to do with their enthusiasm for giving to the campaign. By quality I’m not referring to the standards of medical care, which everyone felt was first class.
“I began to learn, in some detail, that what we called patient services at the time weren’t all that patient friendly. And I became interested in doing something about this because of my perspective as a businessman. In terms of organizational culture and operational systems, this is what businesses do all the time: they identify customer needs and accommodate their products and processes to these needs.”
It was in support of this objective that the Solomons’ committed another $9 million to their original $1 million campaign donation.
“Bill Solomon was a catalyst in helping us understand our performance across key domains of patient satisfaction."
Dr. Will Daniel
“Kern Wildenthal [then UT Southwestern President] was friendly to this point of view. And certainly Peter O’Donnell felt the same way. So the three of us, along with others, began planning for what would became the Clinical Services Initiative.”
The overall campaign fundraising goal was raised from $450 million to $500 million, and $100 million of planned expenditures were added to support a ramped-up emphasis on the highest quality of patient services.
The goal was lofty: to create a seamless system of clinical care, combining patient services with the latest technology and physician expertise, as well as to serve as a model for more patient-friendly delivery of heath care in Dallas and other environments around the country.
UT Southwestern’s Clinical Services Initiative promoted more patient-centric clinical service through highly trained staff, enhanced accessibility, online access for patients to their medical records, and improved communication and record keeping.
That preparedness helped to inspire the question “What is best for the patient?” as plans for the new William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital were developed under UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky. That drove an immersive and collaborative design process, together with a focus on recruiting top clinical specialists, that resulted in the creation of one of the world's leading patient, teaching, and research hospitals.
In its first year of operation, the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital won the Rising Star Quality Leadership award from the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), the largest alliance of academic medical centers in America. And Press Ganey, a national health care consultancy that assesses health care performance, ranked both Clements University Hospital and Zale Lipshy University Hospital in the top 10 percent of all U.S. hospitals.
In honor of Bill Solomon’s lasting contributions spanning more than three decades, Southwestern Medical Foundation created the William T. Solomon Professorship in Clinical Quality Improvement in 2016. “This Professorship is meant to recognize and sustain in perpetuity the leadership Bill has brought to patient-centered, humanistic, and quality care at UT Southwestern,” said Kathleen Gibson, Foundation President.
After a national search, Dr. Will Daniel, an interventional cardiologist and member of the UT Southwestern’s Class of 1990, was named its inaugural holder. Dr. Daniel was recruited from Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, where he served as Vice President and Chief Quality Officer, leading an integrated delivery network of 10 hospitals.
Of note, from 1986 to 1990, as a medical student at UT Southwestern, Dr. Daniel was given financial assistance from Southwestern Medical Foundation through their scholarship program. “I can tell you that the financial help I received was very much appreciated.”
“Bill Solomon was a catalyst in helping us understand our performance across key domains of patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Daniel. “Our focus is to have people feel as well as they can for as long as they can. Improving lives and saving lives.”
“Bill got us to focus on the patient. The next stage of the journey is to determine what outcomes matter most to patients, and how to effectively measure them. Our work is much more than just consumer directed response; we are putting science behind it.”
“With the exception of the founders, no one has made a greater contribution in leadership, governance, and community support for Southwestern Medical Foundation.”
Kathleen Gibson, Foundation President
“And what is unique about UT Southwestern is that we have the ability – beyond the latest advances in medicine – to get there. Our new efforts are leading us to a quality of care rooted in human understanding and medical science available at only a handful of places in the country.”
A reality set in motion by Bill Solomon.
“When asked how the Foundation might most appropriately honor Bill's years of leadership of the Foundation Board and dedication to UT Southwestern, I could think of nothing more fitting than establishing this Professorship to ensure that Bill's legacy in promoting excellence in clinical care in all its dimensions will be sustained in perpetuity,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, UT Southwestern President.
“We are tremendously grateful and will be forever appreciative of Bill’s depth of wisdom and generosity,” said Kathleen Gibson, Foundation President. “With the exception of the founders, no one has made a greater contribution in leadership, governance, and community support for Southwestern Medical Foundation.”
“It has been remarkable for me to contemplate the enormous impact that Bill and Gay Solomon have made on the Foundation and UT Southwestern.”
Robert B. Rowling, Foundation Chairman
Both Bill and Gay Solomon have made an extraordinary impact on the Foundation and UT Southwestern, serving with tremendous distinction for more than three decades. Both were members of the UT Southwestern Board of Visitors for more than a decade, and both joined the UT Southwestern President’s Advisory Board (PAB) and Bill serves on its executive committee. Mrs. Solomon chairs the Arts and Interiors Committee, which was instrumental in selecting the interior features and artworks for Clements University Hospital, and now serves in the same role related to the Clements expansion currently underway.
“It has been remarkable for me to contemplate the enormous impact that Bill and Gay Solomon have made on the Foundation and UT Southwestern,” said Robert B. Rowling, Foundation Chairman.