Floyd affirms medical school is integral to MU

Reports of a move to UMKC spark debate and discussion in Columbia.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:24 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Less than a week after the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved the sale of bonds to raise money for renovation at MU’s School of Medicine, UM system President Elson Floyd reaffirmed the importance of keeping the medical school in Columbia.

“It is essential that medical education and research remain an integral part of the University of Missouri-Columbia,” Floyd said in a statement released late Monday afternoon.

Floyd was responding to a news report published Monday that said there have been preliminary discussions about closing MU’s medical school and shifting its operations to the medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The report appeared Monday in the Columbia Daily Tribune and was based on an unnamed source.

In his statement, Floyd said quality health care in Missouri is vital to the state’s future.

“In that context, he said he will engage key officials in Kansas City in a discussion about Kansas City’s needs in this regard,” the release read.

Curator Don Walsworth of Marceline said Monday that much more background information and research would be needed before consolidation discussions about the two medical schools could even be considered.

“Personally, I’d hate to see the Columbia campus lose any of its schools,” Walsworth said. “It’s a very viable, growing college.”

Two other curators — Marion Cairns of Webster Groves and Sean McGinnis of Springfield — declined to comment Monday. “I cannot confirm these official discussions have taken place,” Cairns said.

Budget colors discussion

In the bigger picture, money — and ways to conserve it and find more of it — is high on the list for university management. When MU Chancellor Richard Wallace announced in July that he would retire in August 2004, Floyd said he would look at ways to consolidate administrative positions and functions between the UM system and MU.

Those changes could include combining the positions of UM president and MU chancellor.

Also under consideration:

  • A possible merger with Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville.
  • Closing or merging seven degree programs at MU because they cost too much or graduate too few students. The review process will finish in the spring.
  • Overall plans for consolidation are expected to be announced later this year.

    And on Friday night, MU underlined its commitment to private fund raising when it kicked off the next phase of the “For All We Call Mizzou” campaign. MU leaders announced that, so far, about $335 million has been raised, which is more than half the $600 million goal set for the end of 2005.

    ‘A huge part of campus’

    MU’s School of Medicine, established in 1872, offers a program emphasizing education that is founded on clinical experience and research. A faculty of 70 scientists and 260 clinicians work with 350 residents to supervise patient-care and student teaching. The school focuses its education on a problem-based learning style and admits 96 first-year students each year.

    The school also provides postgraduate medical training in almost all specialties and subspecialties.

    Maurice Manring, spokesman for MU Health Care, declined to comment on the newspaper report but did address the importance of the medical school to Columbia.

    “It’s a huge part of the Columbia campus and is a campus in itself in a lot of ways,” Manring said.

    Manring cited the importance of University Hospital’s 2,700 member employment roster. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of the school to the community and the region,” he said.

    Last Thursday, the curators approved the sale of $175 million in revenue bonds. Of that, $134 million will pay for projects on all four campuses, including construction at the MU School of Medicine, scheduled to start in November. Renovations are planned for the second and fourth floors.

    About 130 miles west of Columbia, the UMKC School of Medicine was founded in 1971. The school is known for its six-year program, in which early clinical involvement is a focus for first-year students. The medical school offers 32 residency and specialty programs in areas including pediatrics, surgery and internal medicine.

    The School of Medicine is one of two in the Kansas City area — the other one is run by The University of Kansas. UMKC’s school consists of 571 full- and part-time faculty members, 676 volunteer faculty and 630 students. The school is partnered with St. Luke’s Hospital, Truman Medical Centers, Western Missouri Mental Health Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital. Currently, they are working on research programs in asthma, cardiovascular disease, childhood and women’s disorders and shock/trauma.

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