Plan for health center includes more faculty, new technology

Jessica Thompson

The University Board of Regents met Thursday to discuss proposals for a six-year plan to strengthen the University’s Academic Health Center.
A growing concern has been whether or not the Center is keeping up with a growing national workforce.
“The population has increased substantially, and incidence and prevalence of chronic disease is increasing,” said Senior Vice President Frank Cerra. “But we are still training the same amount of people as we were in 1995.”
Cerra and Medical School Dean Al Michael presented a “Strategic Plan for the Health Center,” which outlined ways to reverse this trend and revitalize the Medical School.
Michael emphasized the need to get the school’s national ranking inside the top 20. He suggested increasing mentorship, recruiting new faculty, and retaining quality faculty members as the best means of achieving this goal.
Specifically, the plan calls for adding 13 Medical School faculty members annually, raising faculty salaries to competitive levels and adding new information technology.
Throughout the meeting, attention focused on the importance of the Medical School receiving its core $16 million budget request in the next legislative session.
“If we don’t get the money, we will have to reduce the amount of health care professionals we train from 70 percent to 50 percent,” Cerra said. “This could create serious problems.”
Cerra said the overall goal of the AHC plan is to ensure Minnesota remains a leader in health care research, and that it continues to provide services to Minnesotans.
University President Mark Yudof noted the plan is so ambitious, it is likely to cause some unrest throughout the University.
“These goals and aspirations will involve prioritization in the Medical School, which will leave some people displeased,” he said.
He added that although he wants the University to remain a leader, there are limitations to what should be expected.
“We cannot be the best in every area,” he said. “It is important for us to play a leadership role, but this is a complex, longstanding, worldwide problem. We are only prepared to be part of the solution.”

Jessica Thompson welcomes comments at [email protected]