Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The University of Houston wants a medical school

The University of Houston is considering partnering with The Methodist Hospital and Cornell University to start a new medical school at the Texas Medical Center.

The idea of a new medical school makes sense, as UH President Jay Gouge explains: "We would be remiss if we didn't explore the possibility... When you're sitting next to the world's largest medical center, in a state that's 41st out of 50th in physicians per capita, it would be almost unconscionable not to do due diligence."

However, I think the odds of this happening anytime soon sit somewhere between slim and none. The Chronicle article on this story explains further:
A UH medical school would face an uphill battle, and not just because there already are two medical schools in Houston — as well as schools in Galveston and College Station. In 2002, a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board report identified El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley as preferred sites for any new school.

The University of Texas-Austin also is interested in starting a medical school, and state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, is pushing for a medical school affiliated with Prairie View A&M.

"It would be my preference that Prairie View gets a medical school before UH or UT," said Coleman, UH's representative.

Yeah, when a State Representative who lives three blocks from your school's main campus disses you, you know your school has an uphill battle to climb.

Besides, does anybody really think that Texas and Texas A&M, as arrogant and as selfish as those two institutions are, are ever going to be eager to allow the University of Houston to have its own medical school? Especially after the University of Houston successfully prevented Texas A&M from affiliating itself with downtown's South Texas College of Law a few years back? Keep in mind that the members of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board are appointed by the Governor, and the blow-dried twit that currently occupies said office is an Aggie.

University of Houston leaders clearly realized that the idea of a UH-affiliated medical school would generate controversy and therefore have kept quiet about the proposal up until now; the Chronicle broke the story after filing a Freedom of Information request that UH administrators initially tried to appeal. But now that the cougar's out of the bag now, so to speak, what are the next steps to be taken?
Emphasizing that UH is in the early stages of exploring a medical school, Gogue said he expects a recommendation from Provost Don Foss in the next three to six months. If the recommendation is in favor of a medical school, Gogue said the next step would be to begin discussions with UH's board of regents and contact the Coordinating Board, which approves new programs. Gogue said the earliest a proposal would go to the Legislature would be 2009.
All I can say to Dr. Gogue and the University of Houston is "good luck." They're going to need it.

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