UH medical school gets initial OK from regents

Friday, 01 December 2017, 12:54:49 AM. Regents at the University of Houston System appear poised to pursue the creation of a medical school that would enroll students by 2020 in hopes to improve care in rural and urban Texas neighborhoods. A committee meeting Thursday introduced the medical school - long a dream of top UH officials - formally before board members, months after state lawmakers requested that the university evaluate the

Regents at the University of Houston System voted to pursue the creation of a medical school that would enroll students by 2020 with the goal of improving care in rural and urban Texas neighborhoods.

The planned medical school – long a dream of top UH officials – came formally before board members on Thursday. The meeting comes months after state lawmakers requested that the university evaluate the need for such a program.

The vote approved UH to finalize a partnership for new residencies and to establish a college of medicine to support them. UH will apply to the state’s higher education coordinating board for approval and initiate the accreditation process after Thursday's vote.

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A UH medical school opening in 2020 would be the first new Houston medical school in nearly half a century. It would add to a crowded field, with Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston in the nearby Texas Medical Center. There also is UT Medical Branch at Galveston 55 miles to the south and Texas A&M Medical School 100 miles to the north.

In addition, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville is pursuing a school of osteopathic medicine it says will be 100 percent self-funded.

UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator said in an October speech that the school would “fill a void in Texas” and could strengthen UH’s teaching and research.

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The university says it would require $40 million over 10 years in state allocations and $40 million over 10 years in philanthropic gifts to in part cover its expenses, which would total more than $272 million over 13 years. Tuition revenue would cover $51 million, and other revenue would cover remaining costs, according to a proposal document.

Operating expenses would level off at about $33.3 million annually in 2016 dollars after 11 years in operation, according to a released budgetary proposal.

The college will aim to produce racially diverse classes of doctors to serve their patients at a reasonable costs.

The university said it has a letter of intent with Hospital Corporation of America Gulf Coast Division and would create eight new residency programs, including more than 100 first-year residency positions to be in place by 2020. That figure would grow in future years, according to a planned proposal.

Raymund Paredes, the state's higher education commissioner, said before the committee meeting that he had not yet reviewed UH's proposal and could not comment on how likely the coordinating board would be to approve it. He could not immediately be reached for comment after the committee meeting.

Lindsay Ellis writes about higher education for the Chronicle. You can follow her on Twitter and send her tips at lindsay.ellis@chron.com.

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