The Daily Illini

Urbana campus pushes for engineering-based College of Medicine


The University is trying to create a new type of student studying medicine — one who is grounded with compassion and care but also in tune with technology and engineering-based applications.

The Urbana campus has proposed creating its own College of Medicine, which will fuse engineering, computing, health sciences and medicine into one. The last time a new college was formed at the University was 1957.

“If there is one thing that technologies and innovations have not touched yet, have not been made available to people, it is taking care of their health in an affordable and accessible way,” said Andreas Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering, in September. “We are talking about bringing the clinic to the patient.”

The University’s sister school in Chicago already has a College of Medicine and proposed a counterpoint at a Sept. 3 Board of Trustees meeting. Chicago would use its original framework while working with Urbana’s College of Engineering to create a “Translational BioEngineering Institute,” which would promote biomedical research and economic development.

At the board’s Nov. 13 meeting, President Robert Easter was appointed to explore medical education and look at each campus’ proposal.

Provost Ilesanmi Adesida said in September that the University had heard UIC’s proposal but would not accept it. 

Adesida said the proposed college will not require additional state funding and take money from other programs, as Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Adesida will team together to approach donors and private investors.

They already have one investor on their side: Carle Health System, located in Urbana, who Adesida said is willing to invest $100 million. Neal Cohen, director for the interdisciplinary health sciences initiative, said that by partnering with Carle, the University will benefit from not having to run an “incredibly expensive” hospital, as he believes UIC does.

According to Adesida, Urbana’s medical school would enroll 25 to 50 students per year.

“We are working with UIC to negotiate what will happen on whether they will receive their MDs or PhDs here,” Adesida said. 

While most colleges are big, they have half of the revenue for research that UIUC has, Adesida said. He added that even Stanford’s program has lowered to 90 students per incoming class.

The Urbana-Champaign Academic Senate approved the preliminary proposal on Sept. 22, and the Board of Trustees reviewed business and governance plans soon after. If approved, the college’s first 25 students are expected to enroll in Fall 2017.

Wise stated in November that the college needs $135 million from donors and will receive $100 million from Carle over ten years. Additionally, Carle will give $1.5 million annually, extending beyond the first decade. 

Tuition rates for students would cost $45,000 in-state and $60,000 out-of-state. 

“We have a very great opportunity being a University with a top-engineering college,” Rashid Bashir, head of the department for bioengineering, said in September. “If we can do this now, in the long run we really have a chance to change the way it is taught everywhere else.”

Megan can be reached at [email protected]

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