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To the Editor:

Even with declining enrolment, medical education SIUC is flourishing due to the School of Medicine (SOM). More than 440 people in Carbondale are employed or associated with the SOM — 90 full-time staff, 90 faculty and 260 learners. Because of the SOM, SIUC is classified R1: Doctoral Universities-Highest Research Activity, with 53 active research projects with $12 million in active grants. SIUC is among 115 institutions with this rank. In contrast, at SIUE there is no biomedical research and only three Ph.D. programs.

A group of Metro East legislators have proposed bill HB5861 in order to create two universities with their own boards. The schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing would become part of SIUE, which may benefit SIUE, but the cost to SIUC. It would be devastating to our local economy.

Disbanding the Carbondale component of the SOM would cost hundreds of people their jobs, and cause SIU to lose the exalted R-1 research designation. Instead, expand the footprint of the School of Nursing, and increase pre-nursing and nursing on the Carbondale campus. Expanding the nursing program at Carbondale would enhance the medical educational environment at SIU’s flagship campus. There is a critical shortage of nurses and expanding nursing education at SIUC would help address this shortage, help to drive enrollment up in Carbondale, and create a synergy in medical education between SIUC and SIUE.

SIU Carbondale is a special place and building on medical education excellence is the key to recruitment and retention.

Buck Hales

Carbondale

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