People pining for the union of the College of William and Mary and the Eastern Virginia Medical School will have to wait a little longer.
A couple of months ago, the Due Diligence Committee, a group selected by President Taylor Reveley, met in a forum to discuss the possibility of a merger. That meeting ended on a note of doubt, as Provost Michael Halleran stated he did not think a merger was feasible at that point.
The committee mentioned a few reasons for its reluctance to perform a merger in a report written in December. The report called into question whether a medical program would harm the College’s reputation as an outstanding liberal arts school, although many other top-tier schools have medical programs.
“Would this lead to a loss of our niche as an elite liberal arts university and/or create a distraction of time and energy?” Halleran wrote in the report.
Last Wednesday, Reveley updated the student body on the status of connections between the College and EVMS. He stated that the committee determined that it was too early to make a formal connection but that the merger was still possible.
“[The committee] … recommended a two-step approach to continue this exploration. … I agree with the committee’s approach,” Reveley said in his campus-wide memo.
This “two-step approach” will establish a pilot program between the College and EVMS, allowing the two institutions to work together and explore how much each establishment has to offer the other.
Following this collaborative pilot run, the committee will reconvene and assess both the success of this program and the renewed possibility of the merger.
“[This is] a continued effort to discover what relationship between the two institutions would best serve our mutual and common interests and those of the Commonwealth,” Halleran said in an email.
The committee’s decision was that the College and EVMS should work together in healthcare delivery science. Right now, the two schools are figuring out what resources are required for their joint work.
“We have both been exploring how we can best work together,” Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and committee member Jim Golden said in an email. “As we work together, we will learn more about what organizational adjustments, if any, might make sense.”
This pilot program is a promising start for firmer ties between the College and EVMS, but those hoping for a concrete merger should not see it as a guarantee. News on a definite merger is far in the future as the pilot program will take a little while to gain steam.
“We’ll be pursuing this exploration over the next 12-18 months,” Halleran said in his email.
Although these exploratory efforts will take time, they are a crucial step in the possible melding of these two institutions.
“[The pilot program] might loosely be compared to a period in which the two schools ‘date’ to help determine whether something more lasting has merit for each,” Reveley said in his statement.