Easter supports Urbana College of Medicine

By Abigale Svoboda

Before recommending the Board of Trustees vote in approval of a proposal to open a College of Medicine on the Urbana campus, President Robert Easter said he had previously been as skeptical as anyone. 

Easter explained his decision at the Academic and Student Affairs committee meeting on Monday. He said he grappled with the decision for over a year, making a final determination based on the college’s economic feasibility and how it would affect the University’s land grant mission as well as its research and educational mission. 

It was clear that the college would advance the University’s missions, Easter said, but its economic feasibility was not as apparent. To aid his decision, Easter sought council from the University Senates Conference and finance experts. 

Eventually, Easter said he determined that the economic plan is feasible and will be successful without hindering other University programs, including the existing College of Medicine on the Chicago campus.

If the Board of Trustees approves the college at its meeting Thursday, the proposal will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education for approval. 

If approved, the University will enter a binding contract with Carle Foundation for its $100 million contribution to the college over the next decade. Additionally, the University has a plan to obtain $135 million in donations over the next 10 years. 

Trustee James Montgomery expressed concern that other programs may suffer while donors contribute to the College of Medicine. However, Chancellor Phyllis Wise said an alumni who had not previously donated to the University had promised $10 million. 

Easter echoed it is important to pay attention to donors’ passions and that some alumni may not be have been inclined to donate before but are now excited to help develop the new college.  

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