No decision has been made yet as to whether William & Mary might merge with Eastern Virginia Medical School, a committee of faculty and administrators said during a campus forum yesterday.
“This is really complicated, and it is a big strategic decision,” said Jim Golden, vice president for strategic initiatives at William & Mary. “We want to continue to explore the possibilities.”
About 80 people attended the forum in the Sadler Center on Wednesday, including William & Mary faculty, staff and students as well as community members, alumni and current EVMS students. W&M Provost Michael R. Halleran moderated the event and answered questions along with members of the due diligence committee that was established by President Taylor Reveley in July to explore the possibility of EVMS becoming the William & Mary School of Medicine.
Halleran opened the forum by emphasizing: “No decision has been made.”
“This is truly exploratory,” he said. “This is an idea that has been kicked around, discussed, thought of here and there for some quite some time, but for a variety of reasons, this is an opportunity to give it some more serious consideration.”
Reading from the charge to the committee, Halleran said that the main question is “whether and how EVMS would strengthen the College in the short and long term.”
The committee has met eight times, and they have contacted experts and hired a consultant in the process. The committee members were asked to come up with a list of things “that must be true” in order for a merger to take place.
One of those qualifications is that the merger should “do no harm.”
“Anything that we do should strengthen the College of William & Mary, and one important test is, as the Hippocratic Oath mandates, to do no harm,” Halleran said, adding that it was important to make sure there was no harm in three areas: resources, the liberal arts focus of W&M and its reputation.
The merger should also provide substantial known or likely benefits for both EVMS and W&M, and EVMS’s relationships with Sentara and the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters must remain secure. Additionally, the Commonwealth must support the merger, said Halleran.
Forum attendees raised a variety of questions on topics including the opinion of the state, the potential financial impact of the merger, new research and learning opportunities that may arise, the geographical distance between the two institutions and the timeline for a decision to be made.
The committee members acknowledged that there are many questions still left to be answered and, if a merger is decided upon, it could take a variety of forms.
“Instead of should we merge, the first question is what do we want to do together,” said Golden.