Strategic Plan Approved Fou OU Health Sciences Center

Article excerpt

A strategic plan for the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center approved Wednesday by OU regents calls for construction of a $25 million research tower on the Oklahoma City Campus, and for research funding levels to be doubled.

Meeting on OU's Norman campus, the regents were told that the Health Sciences Center, while it has made great strides since 1976, is underfunded by 45 percent compared to its peer institutions.

"We intend to put additional strong emphasis on private sector funding," said Dr. Clayton Rich, Health Sciences Center president. He acknowledged the increased support in the 1980s from the Presbyterian Health Foundation and W.K. Warren Foundation, adding "as our performance continues to improve, we can make a stronger case to other Oklahoma foundations."

Between 1972 and 1982, six new buildings containing 850,000 square feet of academic space were constructed on the 200-acre Oklahoma City campus, at a cost of $70 million. During that time, Presbyterian Hospital, the Oklahoma City Clinic, Oklahoma Department of Health and other major private and state health organizations moved to the Health Sciences Center campus, and the teaching hospitals were expanded and upgraded.

OU's medical school has grown from among the lowest 10 percent of American medical schools in research output and funding, to a point where it can become an institution of national importance, Rich said.

He said a new research tower - proposed for construction with $20 million in state funds and $5 million from private support - is a key.

"Without more space, we'll clearly top off in our activity in the next few years," Rich said.

The $25 million would actually fund 60 percent in first-phase construction and equipment for a new research tower connected to the existing Biomedical Sciences building. The remaining 40 percent could be deferred until the first-phase space approaches full use, according to the report.

Some 117,000 square feet of new research space is needed to support a three-fold increase in research activity while nearly doubling the amount of available space.

"Current space will become fully utilized next year," the report states. "New research construction will be required thereafter, and should be funded and started now."

The concentration on quality and research in the past 13 years "has paid off to a remarkable degree," according to an overview of the plan provided to the regents. "Teaching programs have been improved, with curricula revised in most colleges, and the clinical activities of the College of Medicine greatly strengthened. But it is in research that the impacts are the most significant for the future."

External research funding the Health Sciences Center has increased from $4 million to $20 million over the last nine years, Rich said, and use of research space has doubled in the last four years. …