Wallace: Med school stays

The chancellor’s comments followed rumors the school would move.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:42 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The School of Medicine is not leaving MU, Chancellor Richard Wallace said Tuesday.

Addressing preliminary discussions about proposals to close MU’s School of Medicine and shift its operations to Kansas City, Wallace said the school is critically important to MU’s plans and to retaining membership in the American Association of Universities.

“It would change for the worse, and I think fairly dramatically, our prospects for the future should we lose the School of Medicine,” Wallace said. “So we’re not going to lose it.”

In a letter Tuesday to “Friends of the Medical School,” its dean, William Crist, said that the future of the school is bright and that the school will stay in Columbia.

“Keeping the medical school in Columbia is essential to our mission as a land-grant university,” Crist’s letter read.

The mission of a land-grant university is to serve not only the school and its students but also the whole community it is part of.

Wallace said he found out about the proposal a week ago last Friday, when UM system President Elson Floyd informed him discussions were taking place. Wallace said he knew that the proposal involved MU but that Floyd wasn’t specific about the other party.

A published report on Monday identified the University of Missouri-Kansas City as the other school.

“I have not talked to anyone in the city of Kansas City about it — at UMKC about it — nor am I scheduled to,” Wallace said.

Michelle Hopkins, UMKC spokeswoman, referred all questions to Floyd. “There is no information going to be coming from our campus,” she said.

Of the system’s nine governing curators called for this story, only one — Don Walsworth in Marceline — could be reached. “If there are any talks, I am not aware of them,” Walsworth said.

Responding to reports about the consolidation, Floyd affirmed Monday that MU’s medical school is integral to the MU campus.

“I am 100 percent convinced that President Floyd knows what he is talking about when he says the school of medicine will stay here,” Wallace said.

He added that he welcomes Floyd’s involvement in campus issues and called him an effective leader.

“In this way and in many other ways, he demonstrates that he knows what this campus is all about, and will be very good for us,” Wallace said.

To stress the importance of the medical school to MU, Crist cited its research.

“MU was selected by the National Institutes of Health to house a major $10 million cancer imaging center over competitors such as Stanford and Duke,” he stated in his letter.

Renovations of research centers in the medical school are scheduled to begin in November. The school also recently launched a $100 million fund-raising campaign, the letter read.

With money being an important issue, some of the changes under consideration by the UM system include a possible merger with Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville and closing or merging seven degree programs at MU because they cost too much or graduate too few students. This review process will finish in the spring.

MU kicked off a phase of its fund-raising campaign Friday. So far, about $335 million has been raised, more than half of the $600 million goal.

Missourian reporter Courtney Miget contributed to this story.

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