UI medical-school plan gets major overhaul

UI medical-school plan gets major overhaul

URBANA — Plans to operate a new University of Illinois medical school under a public-private partnership model have been set aside, and a new governance structure for the engineering-focused college is now being considered.

An early report by consultants recommended the University of Illinois and Carle Health Systems establish a public-private entity, a 501(c)3, to oversee the new college. But on the advice of legal counsel and others consulted in recent months, organizers have begun weighing other options.

The governance model now under consideration calls for an operating or managing board that would bring the two institutions together. Carle Chief Executive Officer Jim Leonard and UI Chancellor Phyllis Wise would likely serve on that body.

The dean of the new medical college would be appointed by the UI's provost, the administrator in charge of academic and budget matters for the campus, and would report to that person. The dean would be in charge of hiring faculty and taking care of students, and faculty would develop the curriculum.

Details are still being worked out, Wise said Tuesday. A business plan, a follow-up to the Tripp Umbach report submitted in the spring, is being drawn up and expected to be finished sometime this fall.

The proposal cleared one of its early hurdles Tuesday when the Senate Executive Committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, voiced support for the plan. A senate committee will review the proposal, and it will be presented to the full Academic Senate in early fall.

On Tuesday, Wise and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida met with the Senate Executive Committee to field any questions or concerns, and many expressed enthusiasm for the idea.

Currently, the medical school in Urbana is a regional campus of the UI's College of Medicine in Chicago. Wise envisions the new school being under control of the Urbana campus, where it will fuse engineering, computing, health sciences and medicine. Students will earn M.D.-M.S. degrees and M.D.-Ph.D. degrees.

That the proposed college of medicine would have a governance structure like other colleges on the campus was exactly what university archivist and SEC member Bill Maher said he wanted to hear.

And what makes languages Professor Joyce Tolliver feel secure about the proposal is how it will be funded.

"When faculty hear plans for a great, big, splashy, expensive initiative, they ask themselves the question: What do they have to give up? ... That — no new (state general revenue funding) — is a great strength of the program. It keeps me from worrying about what are the sacrifices we have to make to make it work," Tolliver said.

A preliminary budget calls for $100 million over five years to start the school. That money would cover the initial hiring of faculty and renovations of existing facilities. Annual costs to operate the school have been estimated at approximately $22 million, a number that could increase when students and faculty are added over time.

Revenue would come from tuition, grants/contracts, clinical revenue sharing, donations and commercialization of technology developed in the college, Wise said.

"We are not going to ask for new general revenue funding" from the state, she said.

As part of her meetings with area "stakeholders," including Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, Wise said she has assured the mayor that the university has no plans to buy Carle or build any more buildings on land that would cause the city to reduce its tax base.

"If anything, there will be a ring of businesses associated with biotech" surrounding the new medical school, she said.

Wise also plans to discuss the proposal with the UI Board of Trustees' Health Affairs Committee on Sept. 3 and with the full board on Sept. 11.

"If we get speeded up, all the better. If we get slowed down, we will work with that," Wise said.

Also to come is a review from the University Senates Conference, a group of faculty from all three campuses. Several faculty from Chicago have raised questions about the proposal on issues related to faculty input, funding, impact on students, curriculum and more.

The UI also will need to apply for accreditation with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting body for medical colleges.

The first class in the new medical school is proposed for 2017.


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BlahBlahBlah2013 wrote on July 23, 2014 at 9:07 am

As big a critic as I am of Carle, at first glance I like this idea. It's a matter of benefits outweighing costs I guess. Plus under no circumstances can we allow Carle to have too much say and power in this arrangement. They would simply abuse it.

This could in fact be huge for Champaign-Urbana. My only concern is that this will be the final nail in the coffin of any competition to Carle, mainly Provena. Carle is already big and with a higher profile partnership with the U of I, also a behemoth, I worry about more bullying tactics on the part of Carle. They already don't pay taxes so maybe this will make up for that in the form of much more tax revenue from other businesses in this "ring" the Chancellor talks about. I think pricing power and abuse is my bigger concern when it comes to Carle. I can see more "facility fee" type price gouging but time will tell.



ilmsff7 wrote on July 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Glad to see some major constituents at the U of I are starting to buy in to this idea.

I hope it continues to move forward and becomes a reality.