Western Herald – Board of Trustees discuss medical school plans

Board of Trustees discuss medical school plans

By Josh Holderbaum
Western Herald

The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees will weigh in on medical school plans today.

President John Dunn, Ph.D., will discuss WMU’s current plans for a medical school at the Board of Trustees meeting at 4 p.m. today in room 157 of the Bernhard Center.

“My request is for the Board to acknowledge the work we’ve done so far and show to the university and the state that the organizations in favor of this are compelling and allow the President to move forward on it,” Dunn said.

The medical school would be a privately-funded school, albeit related to WMU, sponsored by Borgess Health, Bronson Healthcare Group, and the Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, each of which currently manage residency programs for WMU students.

Battle Creek Health System may become involved at some point as well, Dunn said.

The school’s private funding would keep it from using up resources from the rest of the university and it would also make sure the school will not require state funding, which is in short supply, Dunn said.

“The astute observer would think about the financial resources to be used on this,” Dunn said. “We can’t use the existing resources of the school. We’re exploring avenues of philanthropy and endowment funds to sustain the school.”

Dunn does not want his optimism to make it look like the school would not face any obstacles.

“The path we’re on is extremely encouraging, but it doesn’t mean there are obstacles in the way, whether that’s an internal worry, such as that it will detract from the school in general, or an external issue like the number of medical schools in the state,” Dunn said.

The small number of medical schools in the state compounds the national need for physicians, Dunn said.

“In 1967, Pennsylvania had seven,” Dunn said. “We [in Michigan] currently have three. Central [Michigan University] has made noises about a medical school. However, this is not to say we’re in a race.”

Dunn said his pitch will be very similar to previous feasibility discussions held with the faculty senate, but that the endorsement still rests with the Board.

“It’s up to the trustees and how they choose to frame that,” Dunn said. “I’m optimistic. I think we have an outstanding group of trustees. They’re thoughtful, they ask good questions. An endorsement would mean a good step forward. That doesn’t mean we won’t hit a wall somewhere else, though.”

Also on the agenda for Monday is a recommendation to authorize the lease of office space in Royal Oak, Mich., to be used by admissions staff to broaden recruiting efforts on the east side of the state.

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