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UVI Postponing Medical School Accreditation Effort

The University of the Virgin Islands has postponed applying for accreditation for a planned UVI medical school, primarily due to weak fundraising,UVI President David Hall announced Wednesday. 

Originally, UVI had planned to submit its application to the accrediting body,the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, on Aug. 1, but will now try to do so in one year. This is the second delay in accreditation for the proposed small medical school.

In 2014, New Generation Power, a Chicago-based energy company, and its chairman, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria pledged $30 million to the University of the Virgin Islands to help establish a small medical small, roughly 25 student medical school in the territory, with classes on St. Thomas and, later, practical examinations on St. Croix. 

According to Kathuria’s website, he founded NGP, a Chicago-based, global developer, investor, owner and operator of infrastructure assets in power generation, distributed generation, and mining exploration and extraction.

In May, 2015, the board authorized President David Hall to execute a loan to create an endowment for the UVI School of Medicine. According to a statement from UVI, the loan will be subsequently co-signed by Kathuria and will be paid through the proceeds of his gift. Kathuria will reportedly release funds after the school is set up and accredited.

In October, 2015, the Liaison Committee for Medical Educators denied accreditation to the proposed school. Hall said at the time that the LCME denied the application for two reasons: UVI’s plan to model itself on the University of Central Florida curriculum was not sufficient; and UVI did not show headway in lowering the cost of medical school.

This week’s decision to postpone another year was based on a recommendation from Dr. Ben Sachs, dean of the UVI School of Medicine, and embraced by the Executive Committee of the UVI Board of Trustees, according to a statement from the university.The budget for the School of Medicine, which must be approved by LCME, required that the University obtain $10 million in pledges in addition to the $30 million Kathuria gift agreement. This allows LCME to determine if a medical school is financially viable. 

"Despite strong efforts, and the generosity of numerous individuals, the Medical School project has received only $3 million in pledges, which is $7 million short of the goal," UVI officials said in the statement. 

According to UVI, everything else needed for preliminary accreditation is done. Officials say the school has designed a curriculum, developed policies and addressed other concerns raised by LCME.

“The decision to postpone our application was made after thoughtful consideration of the financial implications in delaying this process another year,” Hall said in the statement. “While this delay moves the opening of the school to 2018, the University and its leadership remain committed to making this transformative initiative a reality.”

According to UVI, the delays are not unusual and it is typical for the process of establishing and accrediting a new medical school to take five years or more.

UVI remains committed to this project and it solicits the continuous support of the local government, the community and private donors, Hall said.

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