In 1982, the Division of School-Based and Minority Student Programs was established within Baylor’s Center for Allied Health Professions to coordinate activities with the Houston ISD at the High School for Health Professions (renamed Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions in 1996). The new division quickly expanded upon its original charge by attracting extramural funding to create summer minority undergraduate programs and magnet health professions high schools in South Texas, and to build upon the college’s long-standing commitment to science teacher professional development.
By 1996, the division’s growth, and its success in helping the College address community problems associated with educational and career access issues, led then-Baylor president William Butler, M.D., to establish an academic program known as the Center for Educational Outreach. The center’s mission is to improve biomedical, basic science and health education across the K–16 continuum, and to increase opportunities for underrepresented populations to access careers in medicine, science and the health professions. Perhaps center’s most important role is to increase participation in medical education for students from groups underrepresented in medicine due to economic status or ethnic/racial background (such activities now are required for LCME accreditation).
Today, the Center for Educational Outreach provides in-person and Web-based education and resources for teachers, students, and the general public, all designed to improve science teaching and learning, while promoting science skills and literacy, and general understanding of clinical and basic biomedical research. Through partnerships with museums, school districts, colleges and universities, and also via programs run independently by the center, it is addressing a broad range of needs across the educational continuum. In part through these efforts, Baylor is recognized as a leader among U.S. medical schools for its contributions to informal and precollege science and health education; and also for its commitment to program evaluation and research on best practices for science and health education. Evidence of the College’s ongoing commitment to the center and the community is seen in Baylor’s investment, in 2005, in a 1,600 square foot permanent teaching lab and new faculty/staff offices and support facilities for K–16 outreach at the Texas Medical Center's McGovern Campus.