New Fairview-UMN partnership to bring in $35 million in first year

Fairview Health Services will give the University of Minnesota Medical School $35 million in the first year of the partnership.

Helen Sabrowsky

The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents unanimously voted to enter a new partnership agreement with Fairview Health Services at a special meeting Friday.

Under the agreement, Fairview will make annual financial contributions to the University’s Medical School that increase in amount over the next five years. The two organizations will also join under one brand: M Health Fairview. 

Fairview will give $35 million to the Medical School on Dec. 31, which will increase to $50 million in 2022. Medical School Dean Jakub Tolar said Fairview’s financial contributions outlined in the agreement are crucial to the partnership’s success. 

“Money is necessary; it’s not sufficient I would say, but unless you have foundation on right economic bases, we cannot move on,” Tolar said. 

The agreement has been years in the making and the University believes it could help improve the reputation of the Medical School. 

“This reflects the culmination of years of hard, intensive work and tremendous effort by a lot of people and a lot of organizations … I am more than mildly excited to be at this point,” said Regent Chair David McMillan at the meeting.

The contract will last through 2026, with the option of an extension in 2023. 

Tolar called the agreement a foundation on which improvements to health care and research can be made. The agreement combines Fairview’s operational abilities and the University’s academic-based approach to medicine, he said at the meeting. 

While Regent Ken Powell voted in favor of the agreement, he urged the negotiation team to clearly define in writing how the brand will be used by both parties.  

Regent Linda Cohen said the agreement has been a top priority of hers as her husband was a student at the Medical School while it was at its peak.

“I am really thrilled that we have the opportunity that this medical school can again aspire and reach the top 10 medical schools,” Cohen said at the meeting. “I believe that a superb and excellent university needs a superb and excellent medical school.”

James Hereford, president and CEO of Fairview, said his organization is excited to partner with the University. He added that Fairview has gained a research and development lab through the partnership, allowing Fairview to implement more academics and research into its work.  

“I think it’s a mix of relief to be at this milestone and awareness of just how much work now lies in front of us to bring it into reality of what the possibilities are,” Hereford said. 

Hereford said Fairview’s next steps will be determining where the organization can create programs of distinction, he said. 

University President Eric Kaler said he’s pleased that the University and Fairview had come to a conclusion.

“My role in this was perseverance, as was noted we’ve gone through a series of failures … and we are poised for great success … I look forward to watching you all get it done,” he said at the meeting.