Amarillo Physician, Heal the City Founder Alan Keister to Be Awarded Honorary WT Doctorate

Chip Chandler May 10, 2023
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Amarillo Physician, Heal the City Founder Alan Keister to Be Awarded Honorary WT Doctorate

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — The founder of an Amarillo clinic that provides healthcare for thousands of uninsured patients will be awarded one of West Texas A&M University’s highest accolades at the May 13 commencement ceremonies.

Dr. Alan Keister, founder of Heal the City, will be presented with an honorary Ph.D. in health sciences from WT’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Keister will be honored at the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony in the First United Bank Center, located at the intersection of Russell Long Boulevard and Fourth Avenue on the east end of WT’s Canyon campus.

Honorary degrees offer the University opportunity to recognize excellence in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, humanities and the arts, scholarship and education, business and philanthropy and social services with significant and lasting contributions to community.

Keister said he is “speechless and just humbled, really” by the honor.

“WT has such a history as an institute of higher learning and of blessing the Texas Panhandle,” Keister said. “To be honored by an institution like that and to be recognized for work that really has been a labor of love is incredibly humbling.”

An Amarillo native, Keister graduated from Amarillo High School and is a member of the Sandie Hall of Fame. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Baylor University, then graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Vanderbilt University before returning home to start his medical career.

Keister founded Heal the City in 2014 to provide high-quality health care with dignity to the uninsured of the region. Originally, the clinic served patients one night a week in a small, converted residence. Today, it operates five days a week in a 20,000 square foot, full-service medical facility in Amarillo’s San Jacinto neighborhood.

The clinic serves acute care patients daily, manages chronic care patients, provides acute dental care and referrals, offers wellness protocols, and operates a full-service pharmacy — all at no cost to its patients.

This year, the clinic will serve 8,000 patients and fill almost 38,000 prescriptions, saving patients and institutions millions in healthcare dollars annually.

“Statistics do not begin to tell the story of the impact on the region that Dr. Alan Keister’s dream of a free clinic provides,” said Dr. J. Dirk Nelson, dean. “He lives a life of dedication to others, consistently having a positive and meaningful impact on the regional community and serving as an inspirational model for other communities throughout the nation. His passion for the medically underserved and less fortunate makes him an ideal candidate for an honorary doctorate in health sciences.”

“Dr. Keister’s commitment to healthcare, specifically to rural and underserved citizens, is remarkable,” WT President Walter V. Wendler agreed. “His dedication to serving others is unmatched. His presence and influence in the Texas Panhandle are unmatched.”

In addition to the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the 2 p.m. May 13 commencement ceremonies will include students from the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities. The 10 a.m. ceremony will honor students from the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences. The 6 p.m. ceremony will honor students from the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business and the College of Engineering.

Keister's life and career reflect the regional values to which WT aspires, as laid out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.