The University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees voted in executive session Tuesday to reapply to the Liaison Committee for Medical Education for preliminary accreditation for the UVI School of Medicine. The meeting was a continuation of the trustee’s Oct. 24 meeting, where the LCME’s decision to deny accreditation was announced. The reason for holding the meeting behind closed doors was not given in the statement from UVI.
The motion to reapply was conditional and would only move forward after getting a consensus of support from all the major stakeholders, according to the statement.
UVI President David Hall said that during the last month and a half he met with and received support for the medical school project from many sources, including Gov. Kenneth Mapp, the Senate, the LCME, FirstBank VI, the Foundation of the University of the Virgin Islands, the Historically Black Colleges and University’s Loan Program, and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, who pledged a $30 million gift to the medical school.
The university is now gearing up to reapply and is putting plans in place to make sure to address the various concerns that were raised during the first application process. UVI will reapply in August of 2016, based on the LCME’s one-year rule, which prevents an entity that has not receive preliminary accreditation from reapplying before a year.
“We will continue to work very closely with all of those key entities, from the Legislature to the governor to FirstBank and the FUVI, to make sure we are successful this next time around,” Hall said.
“We were very disappointed with the prior decision, but we are still committed to the fact that this is an important project for the territory and for the university and we are going to give it another try,” he said. “We are going to go into it with faith, commitment and hard work to do an even better job that we did the last time around.”
On Oct. 13, the LCME Advisory Board voted not to grant preliminary accreditation to the proposed new school, after finding various areas of insufficient progress towards compliance/noncompliance.
For example, in order to shorten the timeline for the university’s application, UVI purchased curriculum and assessment tools from a new school, the University of Central Florida. In so doing, it also allowed UVI to concentrate as much on how it teaches as what it teaches. According to UVI, the LCME site visit team felt UVI had not allowed enough time for UVI to absorb the UCF curriculum.
Other issues cited by LCME included:
– there was no scholarship funding to reduce the debt burden of the students when they graduate;
– UVI needed to show that UVI has pipeline programs to ensure student diversity;
– faculty and student handbooks were incomplete;
– the application described the curriculum committee membership that was not consistent with the school’s bylaws;
– insufficient support staff hired by June 2015;
– UVI had appointed too many medical school full professors (40 out of 137).
According to the university, an underlying theme to LCME’s comments was that UVI has been working to create a school of medicine in a very short period of time. Other schools undergo this process, normally, in two to three years.
Hall said part of UVI’s challenge moving forward is to address the concerns raised by the LCME, which will take money.
“Additional resources are needed and we are going to have to focus on securing philanthropic gifts and other types of gifs for the School of Medicine,” he said.
“I am encouraged that even in the face of a denial, when I met with various groups, people were still supportive of us and that says a lot about this community and about the leadership in this community. People want something better for the people of the Virgin Islands," he said.