Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso President and Foster School of Medicine Dean Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., has been named El Pasoan of the Year by local publisher, El Paso Inc. Dr. Lange was chosen among several outstanding community leaders working to improve the lives of Borderland residents through a variety of industries. The announcement was made Sunday, Dec. 26.
Since 1996, the award has been given to El Pasoans, as well as local groups and organizations, making a difference in the city. The publisher’s aim is to celebrate their achievements while also encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.
“First and foremost, this award belongs to the entire university. I’m incredibly proud of our TTUHSC El Paso family and humbled to work alongside the dedicated individuals who work hard to make a difference in our community. Leaders can only succeed by continuing to learn, and I’m grateful for the students, faculty and staff who enlighten me often with their talents and life experiences,” Dr. Lange said. “As president, I’m just riding the coattails of the community leaders before me who had a vision for our campus and how it could impact the Paso del Norte region. I will always believe in El Paso, the strength of its people, and their ability to show the world that this corner of West Texas has the potential to touch lives across the globe.”
Educating West Texas’ Future
At the end of each TTUHSC El Paso commencement ceremony, Dr. Lange charges graduates to be dedicated, dissatisfied with anything less than the best, and devoted to their practice and the people they serve – each task an example of his own leadership in his seven years as president of the university.
Dr. Lange became founding president of TTUHSC El Paso in 2014, at a time when the city and its surrounding regions faced excessive shortages of health care professionals. Having never been to El Paso, he and his wife, Bobette, visited the city after his interview for the position. Arriving with only two backpacks between them, they explored El Paso, immediately falling in love with its welcoming people and vibrant culture.
It was then that Dr. Lange saw the potential to transform health care and create change in the region, starting with the education of West Texas’ future — students from El Paso, border towns and other areas of the state long underserved.
Not only did he believe students from our region could be the first in their families to attend college, but the first to become doctors, nurses, biomedical researchers and dentists, changing the life trajectories of entire families for generations.
In Dr. Lange’s several years as president, the university has educated 705 physicians, 1,017 nurses and 129 biomedical researchers, most of whom remain in the region where they are most needed. In three and a half years, 40 future dentists will add to the number of TTUHSC El Paso graduates.
His work with community leaders and local and state delegation led to the opening of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine in 2021, the only dental school on the U.S.-Mexico border and the first in Texas in over 50 years. The dental school’s clinical practice, the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic has already impacted the lives of underserved El Paso residents in need of critical dental care.
And while TTUHSC El Paso students are learning traditional methods of health care practice, they’re also part of a unique group who are exposed to early clinical experience and community immersion, and required to learn medical Spanish and volunteer their time in the Borderland.
All are elements of the curriculum Dr. Lange has placed at the forefront of importance, ensuring students are closing gaps in access to health care, and reducing language and cultural barriers before their careers have even started.
Today, TTUHSC El Paso has an annual economic impact of $225 million. In addition to Dr. Lange’s mission of educating students from West Texas, he’s ensured that all Borderland residents have access to world-class patient care. That’s thanks to the over 250 Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso specialists who serve the community in clinics throughout the city and in local hospitals.
Under Dr. Lange’s guidance, these physicians, as well as TTUHSC El Paso students, have embraced the community, especially in its most critical times of need. After the Aug. 3, 2019 mass shooting at a local Walmart, nursing and medical students, as well as TTP El Paso trauma teams, raced to emergency rooms in the city to help save the lives of victims of the morning’s tragedy.
Leadership Among Crisis
During one of the world’s worst health crises in history, Dr. Lange’s leadership has played a critical role in the community and in the lives of students as they navigated abrupt change in their education.
Faced with overwhelmed hospitals, exhausted health care workers and thousands of El Pasoans sick with COVID-19, Dr. Lange worked closely with TTUHSC El Paso deans and faculty, making the decision to allow medical and nursing students to continue their clinical rotations. Students worked alongside front-line workers in hospitals, gaining the eye-opening experience of patient care during a pandemic.
Once COVID-19 vaccines became available to health care workers in December 2020, Dr. Lange moved swiftly to ensure TTUHSC El Paso had space to store the vaccines as plans were made to vaccinate hundreds in the coming days. An example of his own leadership, medical and nursing students selflessly canceled holiday travel plans to help vaccinate their professors and mentors in the days and weeks that followed.
Since then, Dr. Lange and TTUHSC El Paso organizations have made it their mission to provide access to the vaccine for all in the Paso del Norte region – from health care workers at the University of Texas at El Paso and other local organizations, to El Paso adults and children and maquiladora workers from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. To date, the university has distributed more than 10,000 vaccines, ensuring health and safety during one of the community’s most uncertain moments.
Despite the pandemic’s impacts, the desire to be a health care professional from TTUHSC El Paso hasn’t faltered. Currently, more than 800 students and 272 medical residents are enrolled at the university, with record-breaking enrollment – 125 students in total – in the Foster School of Medicine’s class of 2025. Additionally, the university employs nearly 2,000 faculty and staff. Each under the leadership of Dr. Lange, whose belief in El Paso has changed the lives of thousands of students, patients and their families.
Dr. Richard Lange earned his M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. After completing internship and residency training at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, he returned to UT Southwestern for fellowship training in cardiology, and later joined the university’s faculty, where he became director of its Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. He served UT Southwestern as fellowship program director, the Jonsson-Rogers Chair in Cardiology and director of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Cardiovascular Research. Dr. Lange has also returned to Johns Hopkins Medicine to serve as chief of clinical cardiology and the E. Cowles Andrus Professor. In 2008, he received his M.B.A. from the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University.
Prior to his arrival at TTUHSC El Paso, Dr. Lange served as vice chairman of medicine and director of educational programs at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Dr. Lange has been listed as one of the Best Doctors in America and was named a Texas Super Doctor by Texas Monthly in 2021. He is also current chair for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Circulatory Systems Devices Panel.