Questions Raised on Rice-Baylor Med School Merger Talks

November 30, 2009

Five Rice University faculty members -- two of them department chairs and three of them holding endowed chairs -- have published an op-ed in The Houston Chronicle sharply criticizing the merger talks between Rice and the Baylor College of Medicine, saying that the risks would be too great for Rice. The article notes that the medical school (which is independent of Baylor University) relies for its revenue on funds associated with patient care and biomedical research -- and that these revenue streams are vulnerable to shifts in the economy or the health care system. These concerns are exacerbated, the faculty members say, because the medical college is "on shaky financial footing and its current situation is not financially tenable." The faculty members conclude: "We aspire to stand among the world’s greatest universities. Can this vision be attained more quickly by diverting our course and merging with BCM, or will Rice simply become a medical school with a small, and possibly impoverished, university attached? Nobody knows for sure, but we firmly believe that merging poses an unacceptable risk to Rice University." A Rice Web site offers analysis of why the university is negotiating for the merger.

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