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Medical school future unclear

Jan. 20, 2010

Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor in talks

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Though discussions are in progress between Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor and its long-ago partner, the Baylor College of Medicine, details have not yet been made public on any possible negotiations.

"Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor University and Texas Children's Hospital are currently engaged in discussions concerning the Baylor College of Medicine and its future as a strong institution providing world-class patient care, research and medical education," Interim Provost Dr. Elizabeth Davis said Thursday at a faculty meeting. "Until the terms of any potential solution are known, we are not at liberty to make any further public comment."

In a letter to Baylor College of Medicine Tuesday morning, the college's Interim President William Butler acknowledged the discussions, stating that the college "will remain a separate, non-sectarian corporation governed by an independent Board of Trustees."

Butler added that while new affiliations are being considered, a merger is not.

"Although we are still in discussion on the specifics of this relationship, it is important to understand that this is not a merger, as had been envisioned with Rice University but rather a strengthening of our longstanding affiliation with Baylor University," Butler wrote. "Any new affiliation agreement between Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor University will assure that BCM maintains its independence and importantly, its scientific and academic freedom. Our board is firmly committed to remaining a non-sectarian institution and continuing with our current non-discrimination policy."

Local economist Ray Perryman said that if an affiliation between the university and Baylor College of Medicine was put into place, it could "help raise Baylor's overall research profile." He said an affiliation could provide lots of joint interaction.

"It would open up research opportunities for Baylor faculty to work with the people from the med school," Perryman said. "There's a lot of potential synergy."

Discussions of a potential merger between Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University ended last week, according to a joint statement from Butler and President David Leebron of the two respective institutions.

"Since we signed a memorandum of understanding in March of 2009, we have been in extensive discussions in an attempt to meet several conditions that both institutions considered to be essential for a successful merger," the joint statement said.

"With the MOU due to expire this month, the leadership of both institutions decided it is in the best interests of both BCM and Rice University to strengthen the existing relationship without a formal merger."