WILLIAMSBURG — Pre-med students at the College of William & Mary might be able to stay with their alma mater for medical school.
The college will consider merging with Eastern Virginia Medical School to create the W&M School of Medicine, the schools announced in a joint statement Wednesday.
Any action would require approval of the W&M Board of Visitors, the governor and the General Assembly, President Taylor Reveley said in a letter to the campus community.
A group led by the provost will explore the possible merger with the Norfolk-based medical school, which Reveley said is "worth careful consideration."
"EVMS is an institution we know and respect," he said. "Many W&M graduates have gone to medical school there. And there has been productive research collaboration between the two schools."
The provost-led group tasked with exploring the merger will include faculty and administrators, said W&M spokesman Brian Whitson.
Wednesday's statement noted that the talks are exclusive, which Whitson said is standard practice in such situations.
That drew disappointment from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, where President John Broderick sent a letter to the ODU campus saying the discussion should be broadened to include Old Dominion and others.
ODU was already eyeing a union with EVMS, he said, noting that a study about the two schools possibly merging was proposed by state Del. Johnny Joannou, D-Norfolk, but tabled at this year's General Assembly session.
"We are hopeful that Del. Joannou's study will be reconsidered and broadened," he said.
Broderick listed collaborations between ODU and EVMS, which include joint academic programs in medicine and public health.
"In light of the many academic partnerships and research agreements Old Dominion shares with EVMS, we are hopeful that (the General Assembly) study will be reconsidered and broadened," he said.
At Hampton University, which opened a cancer-treatment institute in 2010 and increasingly focuses on research, President William R. Harvey declined to discuss HU's interest in launching a medical school.
"My only comment is that it would be good for both parties," he said of the proposed William & Mary and EVMS merger. "William and Mary is getting a renowned medical school and EVMS gets access to state funds."
EVMS currently operates under a state charter as a public-private partnership. Its main campus is part of the Eastern Virginia Medical Center, which also includes Sentara Norfolk General Hospital andChildren's Hospital of the King's Daughters.
W&M offers an early-assurance program that allows pre-med students to apply to EVMS the spring of their sophomore year.
About 12 to 15 William & Mary graduates enroll at EVMS each year, including one to four who enter through the early-assurance program, Whitson said.
If the two institutions do merge, the public college will become the fourth in Virginia with a medical school. The others are at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
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