Education-What You Don't Know

Artist Concept #2

Artist Concept-The University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine at Brooks City Base.

Article was published in the Wilson County News on July22, 2015

UIW to bring holistic healing to SA’s south side

By Harry & Linda Kaye Perez

    Today we live in a fast moving world, from travel to distant lands in just hours, communications at lightning speed, and there is even talk about going to Mars. Changes in our environment happen in the blink of an eye. It is extremely challenging for most of us to keep up. However, it is critically more important for the young people of today, just now coming into their own, to grasp the meaning of it all. For them the future, as daunting as it seems, is theirs to embrace and conquer. The present generation must step up to help them with all proper means to achieve that goal. And this generation is stepping up by way of the institutions of higher learning that we support and protect. We will be speaking about one of these institutions in this feature article.


      Founded in 1881, and now with a 134-year history of educating diverse populations worldwide, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), a private liberal arts school of higher learning, continues to do so within the traditional context of faith. UIW, the largest Catholic University in Texas and the fourth largest private university in the state, is also committed to shaping minds through a solid program of developing strong character, while at the same time providing the best education possible.

      Dr. Louis Agnese Jr., President of UIW, traditionally welcomes students attending the university with a sincere friendliness and genuine desire to motivate and empower those who choose to be part of the future. He tells them, “We are grounded in the strength of our heritage, which we received from the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.” This was the congregation that founded the University more than a century ago. Dr. Agnese goes on to tell the students, and the rest of us, “The Universe is Yours! And at the Incarnate Word, that is a steadfast belief, not just something we say.”

     UIW students have the opportunity to choose a course of study from a long list of traditional undergraduate and graduate fields, through a PhD., including a nursing program that is the oldest west of the Mississippi River. UIW offers something for everyone.

Kick-Off Announcement

  The University features small classes on a beautiful campus that provides an optimal learning environment, fostering a great atmosphere, but more importantly, it allows for personal spiritual growth and awareness of life by living the mission of the University.

    We all know and appreciate the beauty of the University of the Incarnate Word campus, especially during the Christmas Season; the lighting of the trees brightly illuminates the night sky with an array of color for all to enjoy. This typifies the brilliance of an institution lighting the way toward an unknown future. Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Agnese, UIW is forging that future and paving the way to a brighter tomorrow.

      UIW is not only providing a solid platform from where the students can best advance their place in the world, but, while doing so, invites for the entire community to share in that advancement through the social and economic impact of the University’s expansion program.

   The continual progress UIW is making in the field of higher learning is best illustrated by the recent announcement of the creation of the new School of Osteopathic Medicine that will be housed at the existing facility that was formally the home of the U.S Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. This facility is located in what once was Brooks Air Force Base, in Southeast San Antonio and is now known as Brooks City Base.   


      Brooks Air Force Base was named to honor a young San Antonio Aviator Cadet, Sidney Johnson Brooks, Jr. He was one of the first to volunteer for flight training at Kelly Field. In it’s illustrious history, Brooks Air Force Base (AFB) served us well through a myriad of missions, from flight training to Aerospace Medicine. 

      In the late 1950’s Brooks began transitioning from a flight-training center to a center for modern aero-medical research and development, along with a number of educational disciplines that the Air Force was fostering. When the last plane stationed at the base took off on June 20, 1961, it marked an end to a grand era of aviation history.

      As rich a history that Brooks has given us, with the likes of Charles Lindberg flying in and out of Brooks Field back in the 1920’s, and Colonel David L. “Tex” Hill, the fighter pilot ace who made his claim to fame with the legendary Flying Tigers of World War II and who served as the Wing Commander at Brooks in the early 1950’s, none is more famous than then when President John F. Kennedy dedicated the School of Aerospace Medicine on November 21, 1963, the day before his assassination in Dallas. This was his last official act as President of the United States.

     Brooks AFB began it’s transition from a full fledge Air Force Base in 1995 and completed it on July 22, 2002 when the San Antonio Brooks Development Authority took ownership of the installation for the proposes of creating a better social and economic environment for the community. Some Air Force missions continued as tenants at the newly named Brooks City Base. All Air Force missions ceased operation on September 15, 2011.

    While it was sad for one door to close, we quickly began to see another door open. We can now clearly witness that the growth through progress concept that the old Brooks once represented is still alive and doing very well at the new Brooks City Base.


     Because of who they are, educating the whole person - mind, body and spirit, it is understandable why UIW is expanding their mission into the world of “holistic-whole person approach” to health care. Instead of just treating the symptoms, the medical student will learn how all the parts, mind and body, are interconnected, and how to recognize or identify what needs to be corrected. The Osteopathic Approach guides the student, soon to be a physician, to learn how to assist the body’s natural tendencies toward self-healing and better health. By treating the whole person, the patient can develop the attitudes and lifestyles necessary to prevent disease.

    The University of the Incarnate Word’s new School of Osteopathic Medicine will be located in the northwest corner of Brooks City Base. The initial plan is for the school to utilize four of the seven buildings presently sitting on a total of 22.8 acres. There is a good possibility that UIW will expand this campus with the addition of the three remaining buildings. The entire seven building campus will be adapted to provide classrooms, laboratories, administrative and faculty offices, a student center, and an auditorium.

    Starting in the fall of 2016 the new school will be the home to 150 students and the goal is for the student population to increase to 600 by the summer of 2017. There will be 45 to 50 full time facility staff with another 200 part time facility and 90 additional support personnel that will make up the UIW community when the school is fully operational.

     Dr. Lou Agnese was emphatic when he said, “Brooks has the space and resources to permit us to develop a state–of-art facility that will allow UIW to fulfill the health care mission of our founders, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.” This is only befitting of a first class university to occupy a first class facility that Brooks City Base has graced them with, and will assure a brighter future.


     Robyn Phillips-Madson, DO, MPH, is the Founding Dean of the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine. She earned her Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Washington, and her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is board-certified by the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, and practiced as a family physician in Seattle for twenty-seven years. Dr. Madson obtained her Masters Degree in Public Health from Nova Southeastern University in 2009. She was appointed as Founding Dean and Associate Professor of Family Medicine on November 1, 2013, and began full-time work at UIW in January 2014. She has received many accolades for her accomplishments and serving in numerous positions, from Dean of Clinical Sciences, Chair of Clinical Medicine to Director of Global Health, just to mention a few.

Dr.Robyn Phillips-Madson, Dean

     As you can readily see, Dr. Madson is well prepared to take on the enormous task of creating and maintaining the high standards befitting an endeavor of this kind. The massive amount of detail that accompany establishing any type program of higher learning is daunting to say the least, much less to attempt to bring forth a school of medicine in an economic environment as chaotic as it has been lately. Although this endeavor represents a true challenge, UIW is up to the task.

    In meeting with Dr. Madson, we found her be a friendly, down-to-earth person and seems to fit perfectly the holistic approach to patient care that Osteopathic Medicine is known to embrace. She is highly skilled in the conveying the knowledge necessary for a medical student to absorb in his or her development of their skills for patient care.

                            Dr Robyn Philips-Madson, DO, MPH

     Her friendly and dynamic spirit will serve her well in applying the leadership skill that will be necessary in grooming an efficient and effective educational staff. As her past has shown, she is the perfect choice to lead the new school well into the 21th Century.


    Brooks, whether as an Air Base or as the new City Base, is approaching 100 years since it’s establishment. Throughout it’s history Brooks has played a critical role in the development of American aviation and aerospace programs including the medical application to space exploration. Today it is continuing the theme of progress, and providing South Texas with unprecedented growth. Brooks and the entire area have experienced a non-stop record of successful redevelopment.

    The results are that this thriving mixed-use community has brought together a myriad of light industrial, medical services, and a wide range of residential units that includes a luxury apartment community and many single-family homes. It also has brought education into the forefront with the Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering, plus a STEM-accredited charter school serving grades K-12.

    And now coming to Brooks, the UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine will round out what is proving to be a solid impact to the entire region. The most affected areas are south and east San Antonio, southern and eastern Bexar County and the immediate constituent counties of Wilson and Atascosa.

    What this translates into is added jobs, many new construction projects, and a greater influx of people into the area, leading to an improved economic life of the entire region. It has been reported by a number of business model analyses that the UIW project will contribute approximately 23 million dollars of economic impact to this area per year. This added element of growth at Brooks City Base will assure that the end results will be tremendous. Certainly it won’t stop there!

Artist Concept of New School

 Those early “Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word” that dedicated their lives and labored so hard to realize the establishment of a school of higher learning, would be proud to see that not only has their dream become a reality, but has actually taken the lead in promoting and safekeeping the spirit of their mission amidst a highly secular world. And all of us will benefit.

   © Harry Perez 2012