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$1 million gift widens support for KU School of Medicine-Salina

March 18, 2011

A $1 million gift from Salina Regional Health Center ensures vital support for the new University of Kansas School of Medicine-Salina campus.

Micheal Terry, CEO of Salina Regional Health Center, said the School of Medicine site in Salina will help ease the state’s shortage of physicians. Statistics show that physicians tend to settle in areas similar to those in which they attended medical school.

“I think educating young physicians for the future of north-central and western Kansas, or for any non-metropolitan area of the state, is an important piece of solving the state’s physician shortage,” said Terry.

The gift will support faculty and operational expenses during the program’s first four years. The first year, the program will have eight students. Each year, an additional eight students will start medical school in Salina, to reach an eventual total enrollment of 32.

“We are thrilled with the partnership with Salina Regional Health Center,” said Heidi Chumley, senior associate dean of medical education at KU Medical Center. “This program certainly couldn’t happen without their support. We at KU Medical Center have been so fortunate to find visionary leaders and a community like Salina who have partnered with us in an unbelievable way to make something so unique and incredible happen.”

In addition to the $1 million gift through KU Endowment to support the effort, Salina Regional Health Center is funding extensive renovation of an adjacent three-story building to provide classroom, office and laboratory space for the medical school.

John Mize, general counsel for Salina Regional Health Center, said not only is the School of Medicine-Salina an important and positive development for Salina, but also for the surrounding area.

“First, we hope the end result is to encourage medical students to desire to practice in rural Kansas and to remain here after they complete their residencies,” Mize said. “Second, it is good for KU to be involved in rural Kansas and serve the needs of the state in such a positive and aggressive way. And third, I think the presence of the medical school in Salina will help continue to attract capable physicians to the community and area who might want to participate in the teaching program.”

William Cathcart-Rake, director of the School of Medicine-Salina, said the gift from Salina Regional Health Center is particularly helpful in a time of a challenging economy and tight state budget.

“Private philanthropy, such as that provided by Salina Regional Health Center and other individuals has helped guarantee the success of this program,” Cathcart-Rake said.

Other gifts for the school have included $75,000 from Russell physician Earl Merkel and his wife, Kathleen, and $225,000 from the Salina Regional Health Foundation.

Along with establishing the School of Medicine-Salina, KU Medical Center also has expanded the School of Medicine-Wichita from a two-year to a four-year program. The Wichita site will welcome its inaugural class of eight first-year medical students this fall.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center is a partnership that includes cancer research and health-care professionals associated with the University of Kansas Medical Center and The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita, and the members of the Midwest Cancer Alliance Partners Advisory Board and Clinical Trials Network.

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March 18, 2011
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