Wise: 'We're going slowly' on UI-Carle idea

Wise: 'We're going slowly' on UI-Carle idea

URBANA — University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise said she is seeking input from the members of the local community and the Chicago campus — critics included — on a proposal to establish an independent medical school in Champaign-Urbana.

Consultants hired by the UI and Carle recommended the two entities partner to form a new, autonomous medical school, one that would tap into the campus' strengths in bioengineering, high-speed computing and other areas. Currently, the medical school in Urbana is a regional campus of the UI's College of Medicine in Chicago.

Wise told members of the Senate Executive Committee, made up of committee chairs of the Academic Senate, that she wanted to schedule a time to discuss the report with them. The proposal also will be reviewed by the University Senates Conference, a group of leaders from each campus senate, and eventually it will need to be approved by the UI Board of Trustees and Illinois Board of Higher Education.

In the meantime, a financial feasibility study will be undertaken and preliminary discussions will begin with LCME, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which accredits medical schools.

"But we're not there yet. We're going slowly," Wise said.

Since the consultants submitted the report last month, Wise said she has been talking with people, mainly critics from the Chicago campus, about the idea. She asked members of the Senate Executive Committee to let her know if they heard from someone opposed to the idea.

As for any concerns or criticisms raised, "some things we will be able to mitigate," she said.

In response to concerns some Urbana residents expressed about the proposal, Wise said the university has no plans to buy Carle. (Critics have said doing so would solidify Carle's tax-exempt status. The university is tax-exempt and does not pay property taxes.) Carle and the city of Urbana are mired in a legal dispute regarding the hospital's not paying property taxes due to the charity health care it provides, as allowed per a relatively recent state law.

"We have no intentions of buying a hospital," Wise said. "We want to do other things that are different from UIC. (The UI operates a hospital in Chicago.) We don't want to own a hospital. We want to partner with a clinical enterprise so we can provide a full, four-year educational experience for the students so that collaborations between us and clinical scientists are facilitated."

Some medical schools own hospitals, and some do not. Wise said other universities with a clinical affiliation model similar to the one being proposed include Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, as well as Harvard Medical School, which has several clinical affiliations.

As proposed, the new medical school would be overseen by a private organization created by the UI and Carle.

"If we do it right, it will help UIC, it will help Chicago, central Illinois and all of Illinois," Wise said.

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