The cornerstone of any program to improve cultural diversity is the CEO of the institution. In 1992, only one African American student matriculated at Baylor College of Medicine as a member of the class of 1996. With the CEO and President Dr. William T. Butler concerned about the underserved in our country and the paucity of physicians from the groups of underserved in medicine, a major effort was begun at BCM to increase the enrollment and graduation of students underrepresented in medicine. He was also the national chairman of Project 3000 by 2000, the AAMC's initiative for cultural diversity that was started in 1991.
Dr. Butler recruited a dean with a strong track record of improving cultural diversity at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Dr. James L. Phillips, now Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Pediatrics, Office of Diversity and Community Outreach at BCM. With unequivocal support from Dr. Butler, and his successors, initiatives were established, enhanced and maintained, such that BCM has been one of the leading schools in the enrollment of students underrepresented in medicine (URM). In 2007, 902 URMs applied to BCM compared to 240 in 1993. In 2006, URMs constituted 28 percent of BCM's matriculates in the 1st year class, compared to 7 percent in 1993.
With the philosophy that the entire environment of the school must be addressed, Dr. Phillips proceeded to enhance some of the programs already established, while also starting new programs to impact the pipeline of future medical students.