UC Merced Establishes Planning Office to Finalize Medical School Proposal

Maria PallaviciniMERCED - University of California, Merced,Chancellor Steve Kang today announced the appointment of Maria Pallavicinias vice provost for health sciences. Pallavicini, who is dean of the School of Natural Sciencesand has led the campus' medical school planning process, will now function in a dual capacity for UC Merced. She will divide her time serving as vice provost to continue plans to establish a new School of Medicineand, as dean, she will continue to oversee the School of Natural Sciences.

"When we received approval in May from the UC Board of Regents to continue planning for a medical school, our next step was to put in place leadership that will move our medical school proposal forward to completion," said Kang. "Maria Pallavicini has spearheaded this project from the beginning. She possesses the expertise, the vision and the background needed to finalize the proposal by continuing to work in close consultation with the faculty, our academic and community partners, UC Davis and UCSF, and the UC Office of the President to obtain consensus."

"I thank Chancellor Kang for his confidence in me and I am pleased to be able to take this project into the next phase," said Pallavicini. "A new School of Medicine is desperately needed to train culturally competent physicians who are committed to serving the state and the medically underserved San Joaquin Valley. Furthermore, a medical school is needed to conduct research aimed at treating and preventing the chronic health problems that persist in the Valley. And importantly, the medical school will serve as an economic spark for the Valley and state."

According to Kang and Pallavicini, there is much work to be accomplished in the coming months, particularly if the campus is to submit its full proposal to the Regents in July 2009 as planned.

To assist Pallavicini with medical school planning, UC Merced hired consultants from the Washington Advisory Group. The firm specializes in providing strategic advising services and management consulting to organizations, including research universities, companies, governments and nonprofit organizations. Recently, the Medical College of Georgia retained its services to help with a major expansion to meet rising physician needs in Georgia.

The first task of the consultants will be to assist UC Merced in identifying a network of organizations that may wish to partner with the campus and in defining the specific roles that each might play. Important to the full medical school proposal will be a comprehensive description of how partner organizations in the Valley will play essential roles in the new school's education, research and clinical programs through various affiliation and partnership arrangements.

The activities are supported by a gift provided by United Health Foundation. United Health gave $5 million each to UC Merced and UC Riverside in July 2006 to be provided over three years to assist in the development of medical education and health sciences-related programs in underserved areas of the state.

"Establishing a School of Medicine at UC Merced has numerous benefits for the campus, Valley and state," said Kang. "Its development, however, must not come at the expense of other programs. We are committed to planning the new school, securing its approval and ensuring its development while maintaining the quality of existing programs."

Pallavicini will serve as vice provost until the Regents approve the medical school proposal. Their approval will be sought next year. Afterward, she will return full-time to the position of dean of the School of Natural Sciences.

To help provide leadership to the School of Natural Sciences, Kang and Pallavicini announced the appointment of Professor Anne Myers Kelleyas associate dean of the school.

"Professor Kelley will be of tremendous assistance to me as the School of Natural Sciences continues to increase its faculty, students and academic programs," said Pallavicini. "With more than 35 percent of UC Merced's students pursuing majors in natural sciences, our school is growing quickly and will benefit from the wisdom and leadership Anne brings with her."

In May 2008, UC Merced received approval from the UC Board of Regents to continue planning for a medical school. Campus leadership plans to submit a full proposal to UC President Mark G. Yudof by March 2009. Pending all university and state approvals, including authorization from the UC Board of Regents and with commitment of new funding from the California Legislature, the UC Merced School of Medicine is planned to open in 2013-2015.

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