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Meharry Medical College: An Investment in the Future of America's Health.

Meharry Medical College: Understanding the Historical Context

For the better part of a century, Meharry Medical College survived in a separate, closed society, stubbornly overcoming persistent obstacles--some artificially-imposed, others structural--that stood in its path to academic vigor and financial sufficiency. Over the years, its humble beginnings and its embrace of a mission focused on the disenfranchised, subjected Meharry to the harsh realities of its historic undercapitalization. While a segregated world had presented major obstacles, in the wake of a new, more competitive integrated society Meharry's challenges intensified, as did those of all historically black colleges and universities. In an open marketplace with almost no operating reserves and a small endowment, Meharry found itself a frequent petitioner for its very survival.

Yet throughout these difficult years, Meharry maintained its reputation to produce highly competent health care professionals and biomedical scientists, with a special focus to provide opportunities to African Americans and other young men and women of color. The College also remained steadfast in is commitment to the delivery of community-based health care services to uninsured and underinsured individuals in spite of inadequate levels of public funding support.

New Challenges: A New Vision

Today, it's a different world--and a different Meharry. First and foremost Meharry no longer accepts the role of petitioner. Moreover, the transformation of health care delivery and finance wrought by managed care at the end of the 20th century has forced the industry, including academic health science centers, to rethink their business strategies. The model for success in today's highly competitive health care marketplace is based on strategic alliances in which partners bring complementary strengths to the table, and market niches, where organizations focus resources on core competencies.

Today, an academically strong, fiscally sound, well-managed, and visionary Meharry is poised for its most far-reaching advancement in years, Under the leadership of John E. Maupin, Jr., D.D.S.,M.B.A., the first Meharry alumnus to become president of the College, Meharry has embraced a strategic philosophy based on partnership--and niche--focused strategies where excellence is the norm, sound business models are standard and sophisticated and effective management processes are essential to success.

The College has clearly defined its niches and successfully elevated its national stature through the value of its three core business enterprises of education, research, and health care services to:

* Provide the specialized, uniquely supportive learning environment in which students, who would otherwise not have the opportunity for a health science career, are prepared as highly competent and compassionate health care professionals and biomedical scientists;

* Conduct basic, clinical and population-based research on the causes and conditions that contribute to ethnic-based health disparities;

* Develop model research training programs for minority scientists, with special emphasis on clinical, translational, behavioral, and outcomes research; and

* Provide high quality, culturally sensitive "safety net" delivery system for the uninsured and underinsured patients that focuses on evidence-based care and improved health outcomes.

The results of this niche-focused, results driven effort are impressive:

* Student test scores on national qualifying examinations are the highest in the College's history.

* The College and its four schools are fully accredited for the maximum period afforded by their respective accrediting bodies.

* $68 million has been expended on facility improvements and long-term deferred maintenance concerns and resulted in a remarkably improved campus environment.

* New leadership has been recruited to the management ranks of the College that brings nationally recognized talent to deanships, department chairs, faculty, and staff.

* The array of clinical experiences for its students has expanded as Meharry has developed new partnerships with area hospitals, community health centers, and Blanchfield Army Medical Center in nearby Ft. Campbell, KY.

* Through the unique partnership with the Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County government, Meharry's former Hubbard Hospital has been renovated to become the new home of Metropolitan Nashville General Hospital, one of the finest facilities in the community that continues to serve patients regardless of their ability to pay.

The nationally acclaimed alliance that Meharry forged with Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1999 has the greatest opportunity for unparalleled success. This unprecedented relationship enabled Meharry to pursue its educational, patient care and research niches to leverage each partner's complementary resources and expertise and strengthen programs at both institutions. One of the jewels in the crown of this innovative relationship is the recent award of $7.5 million National Cancer Institute project grant to support Meharry's collaboration with Nashville's Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. With $6.5 million of the grant earmarked for Meharry, the funds will be used to conduct research, initiate new patient care programs and clinical trials, and train minority clinical scientists and research nurses.

Future Partnerships

Several regional and national organizations have joined with Meharry to maximize the College's reach and effectiveness to meet the increased demand for research and health care quality advancements in communities of color. The partnerships formed will play a vital role in Meharry's effort to make a significant positive impact on the health status of the African-American community.

For example, plans are underway to embark on the most comprehensive epidemiologic (The study of factors responsible for a disease.) research initiative ever undertaken in this country, in partnership with 26 community health centers across the southeastern United States, the International Epidemiology Foundation in Rockville, MD., and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. A Center for Community-based Research and Optimal Health at Meharry will also be established to provide the venue and coordination for continued epidemiologic and behavioral research projects that focus on improvements in the health practices and lifestyles of African Americans and other communities of color. Partnerships continue to show great promise as an effective way to hasten developmental time lines and expand the promise of new initiatives.

Sound Management Practices

As Meharry has pursued these and other strategic partnerships, it has also changed the way it is managed. The introduction of the Balanced Scorecard[TM] for planning and performance evaluation and the installation of mission-based management practices are examples of the positive steps taken to deliver the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness that are consistent with the College's institutional mission and vision.

The Campaign for Meharry

Given the formidable challenges that face academic health science centers, in general, and Meharry, in particular, the College's historic and recent achievements are nothing short of remarkable. "The completion of Meharry's transformation requires an appropriate level of capital investment," says its president, Dr. Maupin. "While the College's business model appears to be properly structured for today's environment, complete success will be possible only with a sound and growing endowment, adequate funds for new initiatives, and the timely investment in facilities, research equipment, and information technologies."

Therefore, as Meharry celebrates its 125-year rich heritage, it has embarked on a $125 million capital campaign to insure its future Success.
Campaign Goals

Creating a Strong Foundation (endowments) $ 80 Million
Upgrading Technology and Facilities $ 16 Million
Investing in New Programs $ 9 Million
Growing Annual Unrestricted Support $ 20 Million
(Vision Fund)

Total Campaign Goal $125 Million

Meharry Medical College is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization as determined by the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions to The Campaign for Meharry are tax-deductible within the limits prescribed by law. They may be forwarded to:
Meharry Medical College
The Campaign for Meharry
Office of Institutional Advancement
1005 Dr. D. B. Todd, Jr. Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37208-3599
(615) 327-6111


Meharry Medical College is the largest private, historically black institution in the United States dedicated exclusively to the education of health care professionals and biomedical scientists. The long-standing mission of the College is to provide excellence in health sciences education with a focus to develop unlimited opportunities for African Americans and other under-represented minority groups.

Part of what makes Meharry so attractive to an increased pool of applicants is its reputation to provide a uniquely supportive educational environment and easy student access to state-of-the-art technologies.

One of the most visible signs of student satisfaction and soaring morale at Meharry was revealed during Commencement exercises for Meharry's classes of 2000 and 2001. Notwithstanding individual education debt burdens of as much as $100,000, the graduates pledged $30,000 and $60,000, respectively, as class gifts to the College.

Consistent with Meharry's mission, approximately 60 percent of all graduates in medicine and dentistry have applied their training to the improvement of health among populations of the economically disadvantaged. The majority of those who benefit from the work of these graduates lack access to quality, affordable services and are concentrated in underserved urban areas and rural communities. Clearly, Meharry Medical College stands poised to become the future national leader in the provision of highly competent health care and biomedical professionals.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Previous Article:READY, SET, GO HOME.
Next Article:Beating the competition into remission.

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