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U of I's Wise believes med school should be small

Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 11:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 11:45 p.m. CDT

URBANA – A new medical school being discussed for the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus should be small and complement the school’s other operations, the campus’ chancellor said.

Chancellor Phyllis Wise said during an address to the University Senates Conference on Wednesday that a lot of work still needs to be done on the proposal, but that the school could be an important addition, The News-Gazette reported. The group includes faculty from all three University of Illinois campuses.

“I believe if we do this right, if we make it small, if we make it complementary, we make it [an] out of the ordinary, conventional mechanism of an academic structure, that we will be able to build something that will be important to our campus” and the towns, region and state, Wise said.

The proposal is in its early stages. It would create a public-private partnership with the local Carle hospital that Wise said would allow the university to not ask the state for more money, or take money away from other university endeavors.

Some faculty from the university’s College of Medicine in Chicago have been skeptical of the idea. The existing small medical school in Urbana is a regional campus of the Chicago medical school, where the proposed new medical school would be independent. Don Chambers, a professor at the university’s Chicago campus, said the details will be important. Most of them have not been worked out yet.

“I think my colleagues could buy into this once they understand the details, and once they understand and we all understand this is really complementary and not adversarial,” he said.

A feasibility study on the medical school projects an opening date in 2017. Startup costs are pegged at about $100 million.

Wise said she hasn’t yet start formally raising money for the idea.

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