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Chancellor Syverud Announces Creation of Faculty Advisory Group to Advance Medical School Idea
Chancellor Kent Syverud today announced the creation of a new Faculty Advisory Group to advise him, interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Liz Liddy, Vice Chancellor for Veterans and Military Affairs Mike Haynie and other University leaders on the idea of a veteran-focused College of Medicine at Syracuse University.
As shared with the campus community last week, Syracuse University has begun actively exploring the idea of opening a small interdisciplinary medical school dedicated to serving the needs of the nation’s military veterans and their families. If deemed feasible, it would be the first college of medicine in the nation to support a pipeline for doctors specifically focused on serving and supporting veterans and their families. Graduates would be placed in Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals around the country and help provide a share of the 22,000 new doctors the VA indicates it will need in the coming years. The idea could serve as a pilot for increasing overall health care service to veterans nationally, with a focus on generating new veterans- and military-related research.
University Professor Sean O’Keefe G’78 has agreed to chair the new Faculty Advisory Group. O’Keefe serves as the Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. A longtime higher education and governmental leader and national security expert, O’Keefe has served in major national leadership positions within the U.S. government and academia. These include: Secretary of the Navy; administrator of NASA; chancellor of Louisiana State University; deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget; and comptroller of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Chancellor Syverud and Provost Liddy will work with the deans of the University’s academic schools and colleges to identify a broad cross section of faculty to serve on the advisory group. Among the University’s existing areas of strength relevant to a possible medical school are the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and schools and programs related to aging, biology, biomedical engineering, child and family studies, communications, design, disabilities, education, exercise science, finance, food studies, nonprofit management, psychology, public health, public management, social work, speech and hearing, and others.
While still just an idea, the exploratory effort is in keeping with New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for “big ideas” to fuel his Upstate Revitalization Initiative competition. As part of that initiative, the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council has launched its own competition to identify the economic development proposal most likely to have a shot at winning $500 million in state funding at stake under the initiative. The idea for a medical school dedicated to veterans’ needs has already drawn encouragement from state and national leaders, including Gov. Cuomo, and U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, who met with Chancellor Kent Syverud recently in Washington, D.C.
The idea for a veteran-focused medical school would also build on a larger University proposal to develop, within the Central New York region, a cluster of institutions and infrastructure that would function as a national hub for thought leadership, research and programming focused on the multifaceted issues affecting veterans and their families. The physical anchor for the proposed cluster would be a National Veterans Resource Complex, located on the Syracuse University campus, which would house training programs and educational counseling services, and serve as a convening site for local and national veteran-related organizations.
In early July the Chancellor and University leadership began speaking with stakeholders both inside and outside the University, including Gov. Cuomo, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and SUNY Upstate Medical University President Dr. Gregory Eastwood. In those conversations, the University emphasized that should the idea be deemed feasible, the medical school would be national in scope and stature and would complement, rather than detract from, the mission of SUNY Upstate Medical University. The University also has already committed to not impact Upstate’s current level of student residencies at the VA Hospital or Upstate’s overall relationship with the local VA.