Graham calls for panel on med school

Rumors of moving the school should be clarified, he says.
Friday, October 24, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:48 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Although doctors at MU’s School of Medicine are not packing their bags, Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, wants to discuss the medical school’s future in Columbia in a public forum.

In a letter Monday to UM Board of Curators President Connie Silverstein of St. Louis, Graham asked for a forum in the next month that would involve the curators, representatives from the UM system, MU and the School of Medicine, legislators and students.

The issue is reports of financial offers to shift MU’s School of Medicine to Kansas City. The rumors sparked concern a month ago and were addressed quickly by the UM system and MU administrators.

In a Sept. 22 statement, UM President Elson Floyd said the medical school is integral to MU. MU Chancellor Richard Wallace and School of Medicine Dean William Crist had echoed the school’s importance.

Graham said shifting the medical school to Kansas City is more than a rumor. He said he knows curators have been approached with a proposal. The forum would give the curators the opportunity to explain who is involved and what is being offered, he said.

If concerns about such a move are unfounded, Graham said, the forum would allow the system to reaffirm its commitment to MU’s School of Medicine.

“There is certainly no harm that can come from publicly explaining a situation and what’s going on,” Graham said. “I just want to get to the bottom of it — and certainly I’m not the only one in town who is concerned.”

Reiterating what he said last month, Floyd released a statement Thursday saying the medical school is essential to Columbia.

“We (Floyd and Graham) also agree that the medical school should and will remain in Columbia,” Floyd said. “I will discuss Rep. Graham’s proposal with Curator Connie Silverstein.”

University of Missouri Health Care spokesman Maurice Manring said moving the medical school is “completely unlikely.”

Curator Marion Cairns of Webster Groves said the curators have no intention of moving the school to Kansas City.

While she said she would not oppose the forum, she doesn’t know what would be deliberated because the curators are making no effort to move the medical school.

“To me, it’s a non-issue because it’s going to stay in Columbia,” Cairns said. “It never really was as big an issue that (other media) made it out to be.”

In the last few months, six department leaders have been hired at the medical school. Crist said the school is aggressively pursuing candidates to fill more than 20 openings.

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