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Hopes Vanish for Medical School on St. Croix

July 26, 2006 – In a statement issued Wednesday, attorney Kevin A. Rames, counsel for the U.S. Virgin Islands College of Medicine, announced that the company's principal officer, Martin Oliner, will no longer pursue the establishment of a college of medicine in the Virgin Islands.
"After consistent efforts commencing in October of 2002 trying to work with the Office of the Governor, with both the 25th and 26th Legislatures and with the locally established USVI Medical School Commission, which has failed to meet since December of 2004; and after the set aside of $25 million in private pre-development funds, no significant progress has been made to allow the college of medicine to be constructed, to be accredited and to operate effectively and profitably," Rames said.
Rames said the issuance of executive orders by office of the Governor was "an abortive effort to establish medical schools in both island districts" and that the "failure of the efforts of the company to either get the executive orders amended through the USVI Medical Commission or to effectively lobby successive Legislatures to pass workable legislation" amounted to a "death knell" for the establishment of a medical school on St. Croix.
In 2003, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull issued three executive orders related to the establishment of USVI medical colleges. Order No. 408, effective Aug. 8, 2003, granted a charter to the USVI College of Medicine. At the same time the governor issued Order No. 409, effective Nov. 8, 2003, granting a charter to the Medical Faculty Foundation, LLC, to establish a school of medicine in the St. Thomas-St. John district. The third executive order, No. 410, established the USVI Medical School Commission, "an advisory body established administratively within the Department of Education" to oversee and "ensure compliance" by those entities granted charters for the establishment of a medical school of similar facility.
While many supported the establishment of a medical school, an ad hoc committee was formed in 2003 to question the legality of the governor to reprogram Education Department funds for the establishment of the medical school (See "Legal Battle Looms Over Medical Commission").
Rames said the failure of the executive and the legislative branches of government to work effectively toward this "significant economic and academic opportunity" for the people of St. Croix has been "highly disappointing for all of the principals and professional consultants who have dedicated their time and money in this failed four-year effort."
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