Cases Made for Medical Schools; Central Florida and Florida International Want to Start Programs

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH KORMANIK

Flashing dollars and a parade of politicians, doctors and students Thursday, two Florida universities made their cases for new medical schools at a meeting of state education officials in Jacksonville.

The Board of Governors, responsible for overseeing the state's public universities, discussed the proposals but didn't vote on creating new medical schools at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and Florida International University in Miami. Chairwoman Carolyn Roberts promised the board would vote by March, ending a three-year campaign by those colleges to bring the prestigious -- but potentially expensive -- schools to their campuses.

Two other public universities have medical schools. They are the University of Florida and the University of South Florida.

Board members appeared divided on whether the state needs new medical schools, whether they would be a good investment and whether the schools would result in more doctors practicing in Florida. Some expressed their support while others campaigned against the proposals.

The schools would need about $90 million each over the first five years and an annual budget of $20 million from the state. With other expenses, the total cost to the state for the two schools would be $500 million for the first 10 years of operation.

The colleges claim that once the schools have become established, they could have a combined economic impact of $5 billion annually.

Presidents John Hitt of Central Florida and Modesto Maidique of Florida International each presented their proposals to the board and brought along students, politicians, doctors and medical executives to show their support.

Maidique even used the occasion to announce a $20 million pledge for the school from a Miami philanthropist. In the days leading up to the meeting, Central Florida also announced multimillion-dollar donations. …

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