Remembering the legacy of TTUHSC School of Medicine Dean Dr. Steven L. Berk

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 4:40 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Dr. Steven L. Berk served as the Dean of The Texas Tech University Health Sciences School of Medicine for the last 17 years, pioneering multiple programs and mentoring thousands of students along the way.

Dr. Berk died on May 26, 2023.

Lori Rice-Spearman, President of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, shared how Dr. Berk’s legacy will go on.

“The Texas Tech Health Sciences Center is what it is today because of the impact and contributions of Berk,” Dr. Rice-Spearman said.

Dr. Steven L. Berk was born in New York and studied medicine in Boston. Dr. Rice-Spearman says when asked why he moved to Texas, his answer was simple.

“What brought him out to the Panhandle was his deep commitment to rural health,” Dr. Rice-Spearman said.

A dedication that Dr. Berk never wavered from while at the School of Medicine. He pioneered a program to help address physician shortages in rural communities.

“Steve was always focused on how do we get more individuals into rural care and primary care, so they created a first in the nation called the Family Medicine Accelerated Track or the FMAT program,” Dr. Rice-Spearman said.

The FMAT program started at the Texas Tech School of Medicine and is now used across nine different medical schools in the nation, earning Dr. Berk recognition and countless awards.

“His legacy is lasting. There will rarely be a conversation where we talk about the history of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center that doesn’t include the name, Dr. Steven L. Berk,” Dr. Rice-Spearman said.

A legacy that will be remember by students and staff.

“Students say that they chose to come to the School of Medicine because of the sense of family and Dr. Berk’s commitment to ensure each student had a wonderful experience and graduated from this medical school,” Dr. Rice-Spearman said.

Dr. Rice-Spearman says as a dean you don’t get much one-on-one time with students; however, Dr. Berk never lost sight of the importance of the next generation of physicians.

“Steve sacrificed and did a great deal to mentor each and every one of the medical students that he interacted with across this university,” Dr. Rice-Spearman said.

Dr. Steven L. Berk was 74 years old.