ISS calls for student input on proposed College of Medicine

By Andrew Nowak

Students will have the rare opportunity to have their voices heard on the creation of a new college that will be the first of its kind. The Illinois Student Senate has created an ad hoc committee to get student input as the proposal on the University’s College of Medicine develops.

Matt Hill, vice president external of ISS, originally proposed the committee after noticing student interest and talking to colleagues.

“We are going to be reviewing any proposal and plans that the University and Carle put forward, getting student opinions on it, and then sort of formulating a report that encompasses the student perspective on the creation of the College of Medicine,” Hill said.

Last Wednesday, all 10 students who applied to become members of the committee were selected. The committee is composed of six students from LAS (including Hill), two from Engineering, two from AHS and one graduate student in Education.

Kendal Hellman, senior in AHS and student senator, was one of the 10 students selected for the committee. Hellman wanted to be involved in the process of forming the proposed college and was interested in part because of her pre-med track. 

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“It is a different form of medical school,” Hellman said. “It is more focused on engineers because we are one of the top engineering schools in the country, and so I thought that was an interesting way to look at it, being a non-bio major myself. It is different going to medical school than if you are going as a bio major.”

Although the University’s College of Medicine may not be in her future, Hellman said she has many reasons why she wants to work on the committee.

“Even though I personally won’t be able to use it, my classes have been about how we have areas in health that aren’t necessarily as well represented,” Hellman said. “And it is really hard to bring research into clinical practice, and so this is like one way that U of I is trying to bridge that gap, I feel. It brings in more people who aren’t bio majors.”

Andreas Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering, said the plan for the proposed college would give the campus community a “blank slate” in terms of how the study of medicine is viewed. Cangellaris discussed the role engineering would play in the proposed college.

“Engineering matters because it provides the technology, it provides the quantitative elements for the analytics,” Cangellaris said. “But at the end of the day, having it as a unit on a university, and through that, influencing the way the next generation of students think about the future of medicine, is where the big advantage is.”

Cangellaris said that the interdisciplinary aspect of the proposed college is part of its appeal and he sees the importance of student involvement in the process of its creation.

“Unless we have the conversation campus-wide, I don’t think we are positioning ourselves to benefit the most out of the investment we are trying to make in this new College of Medicine,” he said.

The committee would meet ahead of any vote regarding the College of Medicine in the academic senate, Hill said, in order to present a report to inform the student senate.

Hill said more meetings may be needed as the committee already has plenty of things to work on, including a survey that will be emailed to students in the coming weeks.

Hill said the 101-page business plan for the college was released, and the committee will study the document and file a report on it before the academic senate votes on it.

Whether there will be a vote on this report at the academic senate meeting depends on what the SEC decides at its Nov. 10 meeting, Hill said.

The committee’s first meeting is Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Student Government Complex, located on the second floor of the Illini Union, and is open to all students.

Cangellaris reiterated the importance of student involvement in the process of developing the proposed college.

“I would like our students to be the first ones to have an opinion about this, to think about it, to think boldly about what it is we are going after,” Cangellaris said. “It is not just that we want to have a (college of) medicine because others have it and we don’t. That is not what we are going after. This is a new college of medicine. And once you start something new, the sky is the limit.”

Andrew can be reached at [email protected].