SEC discusses proposed College of Medicine, CAFT clarifications

By Abigale Svoboda

The Senate Executive Committee met Monday to hear presentations about the proposed College of Medicine and coordinate the agenda for next week’s academic senate meeting.

The committee on educational policy voted in favor of creating a College of Medicine on the Urbana campus on Jan. 26; a step Gay Miller, committee chair, said she is “very pleased about.”

Additionally, the committee received a letter of support for the college from all campus deans, Miller said. The proposal is currently under the review of President Robert Easter, who will decide whether the bio-engineering medical school should be created in Chicago or Urbana. His study will be announced at the Board of Trustee’s March 12 meeting, according to Roy Campbell, SEC chairman.

The SEC then heard a preview of presentations that will be made to the entire academic senate next week. The first two presentations came from Neal Cohen, professor of psychology at the Beckman Institute and Rohit Bhargava, professor in bioengineering.

Cohen’s research focuses on patients with memory disorders, while Bhargava’s is centered on cancer research. Due to the lack of a College of Medicine, both feel they are unable to fully explore their fields on the Urbana campus and in turn cannot use their expertise to help the community.

“Our goal is to combine technological advances with health science research to help foster medical breakthroughs,” Cohen said. “We need to change the health sciences and the conduct of medicine.”

Cohen said because of this, and the opportunity to help more Champaign-Urbana residents, he supports the creation of the College of Medicine in Champaign-Urbana. Bhargave seconded Cohen’s endorsement, reiterating the benefit to students and community members.

“We also see the College of Medicine as a crucial training ground for our students,” Bhargava said.

Joe Barkmeier, a radiologist from Carle Foundation Hospital, reminded the group that Carle has committed $100 million dollars to funding the proposed college and said they also have the ability to provide patients once the school is up and running. Barkmeier named the hospital’s long list of credentials, including being named one of the top 15 hospitals in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report.

Joyce Tolliver, University senate’s conference representative, raised questions about the process if the College of Medicine is approved for the Urbana campus, such as hiring a dean and writing by-laws and curriculum.

Provost Ilesanmi Adesida said choosing a dean would be one of the first steps in the process. If the college is approved, Adesida said it is possible a dean could be chosen as early as next year.

Due to misunderstanding, David O’Brien, chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, told the SEC he will present the committee’s report to the academic senate so members have a chance to ask questions. The committee will also release a clarification of the initial report. The report, released Dec. 23, recommended the College of LAS to review Steven Salaita’s case again and reconsider his appointment.

Additionally, the SEC discussed the a final report from the hiring policies and procedures review committee, which recommends for the Board of Trustees to delegate appointment approval to campus administrators.

Committee chair, Eric Johnson, clarified that the recommendation was a purely practical decision.

The final report will be addressed at the March senate meeting.

Abigale can be reached at [email protected]