The O’Donnell School of Public Health, which will admit its inaugural class in 2023, launched with a transformative $100 million gift from the O’Donnell Foundation, the largest gift to a School of Public Health at a public university in the U.S. and matching the third-largest gift supporting any School of Public Health. Dr. Saad Omer will serve as the school’s Founding Dean.

“Dr. Omer’s accomplishments as a public health scholar and advocate have positively impacted communities across the world and provide an outstanding foundation for him to serve as the
inaugural Dean of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health,” said Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., President of UT Southwestern, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery Jr., M.D., Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Headshot of Saad B. Omer, M.B.B.S, M.P.H., Ph.D., FIDSA, who was appointed inaugural Dean of the Peter O'Donnell Jr. School of Public Health at UT Southwestern to help advance public health.
Saad B. Omer, M.B.B.S, M.P.H., Ph.D., FIDSA | Inaugural Dean of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health

“Dr. Omer will ensure that we fully achieve our vision for the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health to ultimately improve the health of communities near and far by advancing the science of public health and preparing a well-trained workforce of public health professionals.” After formation of the new school was approved by the UT System Board of Regents in 2021, the Texas Legislature committed $10 million in startup funds. The following year, the O’Donnell Foundation, established by the late visionary philanthropist Peter O’Donnell Jr., and his late wife, Edith, provided the transformational $100 million gift to accelerate the momentum of the newly established school.

“I look forward to joining the collaborative atmosphere at UT Southwestern and to bringing together the robust computational, scientific, and clinical expertise to apply to the important challenges faced in public health today.”

Dr. Saad Omer

“The sturdy foundation for the school created by the O’Donnell Foundation’s generous investment, the strong support of the state, and the eagerness of the UT Southwestern community for our mission offer an exciting environment to recruit the best and brightest faculty and students as we generate fresh avenues for research to support the welfare of diverse communities here and throughout the world,” said Dr. Omer.

Dr. Omer, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., FIDSA, holds the Lyda Hill Deanship of the School of Public Health at UT Southwestern.

“On a personal level, Dr. Omer encompasses the vitality and compassion that are fundamental to advancing the well-being of communities and meeting the need for an expanded expert
public health workforce that will broaden our capacity to respond to current and future public health challenges,” said W. P. Andrew Lee, M.D., Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Dean, UT Southwestern Medical School, who holds the Atticus James Gill, M.D. Chair in Medical Science.

“Best-in-class public health begins with excellent teaching and excellent students, and Dr. Omer’s vision and expertise will accelerate that reality with untold benefits reaching across our diverse and growing communities,” said Michael McMahan, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation. “We are encouraged and grateful for the visionaries joining alongside the O’Donnell Foundation, including leaders like Lyda Hill and Dr. Richard Hoffman.”

This article was adapted from a UT Southwestern press release.