WESTERN HERALD: WMU School of Medicine announces preliminary accreditation status at Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony
Oct 12, 2012 -
By Ted Yoakum
Yet another milestone has been reached on the way to the opening of Western Michigan University’s School of Medicine, as the school announced this morning that it had reached preliminary accreditation status.
The announcement was made during the groundbreaking ceremony for the upcoming renovation project to the former MPI Research facility in downtown Kalamazoo, which was donated to the school last year. Over 100 members of the community attended the event, including city Mayor Bobby Hopewell, State Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, and US Congressman Fred Upton.
“This is an important step for the School of Medicine because it now means we have the go-ahead to start recruiting students to begin in August of 2014,” said Hal Jenson, the dean of the WMU School of Medicine, during his remarks this morning.
The school was granted its preliminary accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the national accrediting authority for medical schools across the US and Canada. The medical school leadership was first informed of their new status by the committee last month, Jenson said. By reaching this milestone, the school is several steps closer to reaching full accreditation status before its planned opening in August of 2014.
The groundbreaking event is the first major public event concerning the medical school since WMU President John Dunn’s announcement of an $100 million anonymous donation last year. Since then, the school has made a number of significant strides, such as acquiring its main facility at 300 Portage St. and merging with the Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, a training hospital located outside east campus.
The WMU School of Medicine is the result of the collaboration between the public university, Bronson Healthcare Group and Borgess Health, a partnership that was formed in 2008 in order to make a Kalamazoo based medical school a reality. The school is not part of WMU proper, but instead is a separate, privately owned entity with its own source of funding and governance.
The preliminary accreditation status is the latest success for the institution’s three partners, who have sought accreditation for the program since 2009.
“The Kalamazoo community had a 40-year history of outstanding collaboration, providing graduate and undergraduate medical education,” Jenson said. “We could not have achieved this milestone without all of the individuals serving on the accreditation committee, who have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to help make this possible.”
In addition to the announcement, the guests in attendance got a peak into the $63 million plan to renovate the seven-story building for use by incoming medical students. The structure, which was given to the medical school in December by MPI Research CEO William Parfet, will be the heart of medical school’s W.E. Upjohn Campus, named after the the founder of the former Upjohn Company, the building’s first tenets.
“This property was the first piece of land he purchased,” said Jenson. “We are fortunate and privileged to have this place as the home of our new medical school.”
The current plans for the updated facility, which were designed by architectural firms Diekema Hamann and the SLAM Collaborative, call for classrooms, lecture halls, offices, a simulation center, an auditorium and even a fitness center. The school hopes to have construction finished by May 2014, just a few months short of the beginning of their inaugural classes.
WMU President John Dunn was among the speakers during Friday’s groundbreaking. The university leader made it a priority to have a Kalamazoo-based medical school since he took over the position in 2007, and has remained a driving force behind its continued growth.
“This is our community’s initiative,” Dunn said. “As you look around you today, at the men and women in attendance, I hope this gives you an appreciation for how community focused this medical school.”
Although the school isn’t part of the public university, Dunn has stated in the past that he feels that the addition of a medical program helps enrich the degrees of every WMU graduate, and further increases the national prestige of the university.
Congressman Upton, who also spoke during the event, echoed Dunn’s sentiments, and felt that the school would wonders for the local medical community as well.
“It is the with the collaboration with Borgess and Bronson that Western students can apply the medical license they earn in real life situations down the street,” Upton said. “If they complete their internships and residencies here, then they will obviously decide to stay in this [area], working at local hospitals and establishing private practices.”
The congressman had a few words of praise for Dunn’s vision and work to bringing the School of Medicine into fruition.
“Some people subscribe to the model for success, ‘under promise, over deliver,’” Upton said. “Dunn backs conventional wisdom, promise big and deliver. We are so proud of his leadership.”