U’s fund-raising effort keeps Medical School out of the red

Mike Wereschagin

In Medical School Dean Al Michael’s State of the Medical School address Wednesday, he painted a picture of a department on its way to becoming the phoenix of the University.
When the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the organization that accredits medical schools, visited the University in 1997, they chastised the Medical School for its shortcomings. The school’s curriculum and abysmal financial situation came under harsh criticism.
Medical School officials took the report seriously and have since raised the school from its ashes, Michael said.
Financially, the school is on its soundest footing in years. While medical schools across the nation find themselves engulfed in the red, the University’s Medical School has finally broken even.
Michael cited the immense deficits of Harvard, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania’s medical schools as examples of where the University was headed.
To avoid a similar fate, the University embarked on a massive fund-raising campaign to garner $375 million in four years.
“As of today, we have raised $190 million,” Michael said.
As a result of the fund raising, the Medical School has added 15 endowed chairmen, bringing its total to 80. This is more than any other medical school in the country, he said.
The money given for an endowment is invested by the University, and the interest earned is divided into two portions.
“Part of the money goes towards whatever the endowment was set up to benefit,” said Brad Choate, president and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Medical Foundation.
The rest of the interest is tacked back on to the principle. This counters inflation and ensures the endowment’s buying power will remain the same, he said.
“The Medical School’s endowment fund is ranked sixth in the nation,” Choate said.
Much of the endowment money comes from alumni.
That former students are so willing to give back to the school supports Michael’s statement that students are regarded as the most important element in the Medical School.
“Without them, there is no us,” he said.
Liz Tuohy, who plans to apply to the Medical School this spring, said she attended the address to get a better feel for the program.
“It’s nice to see that they recognize there are problems and they’re working through them,” she said. “It was an optimistic forecast.”

Mike Wereschagin welcomes comments at [email protected]