UT Southwestern tips its hat to employees at Topping Off

By Heidi Harris Cannella

UT Southwestern Medical Center faculty, staff, and students are invited to the Topping Off celebration for the new William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital on Dec. 11 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It is a milestone event planned uniquely for employees and hosted by the Employee Advisory Council.

Beginning at 1:30 p.m., employees and students may arrive at the Clements University Hospital site off Record Crossing and sign a concrete panel that will be incorporated into the building construction and later commemorated with a plaque after the building opens. A dedicated shuttle will run from all campus stops starting at 1:15 p.m. and ending at 3:45 p.m.

Remarks will commence at 2:30 p.m. Speakers will include Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern; Dr. Greg Fitz, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School; Dr. Bruce Meyer, Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs; and Dr. John Warner, CEO and Vice President for UT Southwestern University Hospitals. 

The program will conclude with a crane lifting a symbolic tree to the top of the building. A Topping Off ceremony – sometimes referred to as a Topping Out – usually takes place when the final top beam of a building under construction has been put in place. The tradition has its origin in Scandinavia, where the traditional evergreen is used as a symbol of growth and good luck. 

“The Employee Advisory Council thought it was fitting to host an event for all of our employees as a ‘thank you’ for the thousands of hours of input that have been provided for our new hospital,” said Shawna Ridley, past Chair of the Council and Director of Health Information Management-Faculty Plan. “While this hospital of the future will benefit many in North Texas and beyond for many decades to come, it also will be a place that our employees will be proud to claim as their own.”

Muffin tops will be served at the event and all employees who attend will receive at least one of several giveaways – new badge holders, silicone bracelets, or baseball caps, each bearing the logo of the new hospital. Four drawings also will be held for a crystal paperweight encasing a holographic image of the new facility.

Those unable to attend can view the ceremony on the UT Southwestern intranet website via live streaming.

Scheduled to open in late 2014, the $800 million, 460-bed state-of-the-art hospital has been meticulously designed with significant staff and physician input.

“We’ve tried to build collaboration into every part of the fabric of the new building,” Dr. Warner said.


Dr. Fitz holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science, and the Atticus James Gill, M.D., Chair in Medical Science.   

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.