August 10, 2004
The history of higher education in Arizona has maintained one constant: Rivalry between the Sun Devils and the Wildcats, in the classroom and on the field.
The respective university presidents openly display their pride through the school colors on their ties. Discussion is spirited whenever alumni from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona are in the same room.
But Monday marked a new era, where boundaries have been erased and ASU and UA have joined forces.
The state’s two research institutions plan to develop a medical campus in downtown Phoenix.
"In the old Arizona, it would have been unheard of for these two universities to collaborate on such a high level," Gov. Janet Napolitano told a packed room of journalists, government and community leaders at the Capitol. "They were seen perhaps as rivals whose supporters once fought a pitched battle as to who would ‘own’ medical education."
Those days are gone.
"There is no need for an ASU and U of A collision over this matter anymore than there’s for Tucson and Phoenix," said UA President Peter Likins. "We must see ourselves as the state of Arizona pulling together."
No timeline or price tag has been set, but ASU President Michael Crow and Likins will present a design and development plan in January for the Arizona Board of Regents to review.
The governor said the project possibly could be paid for through public-private partnerships, reallocating existing money and support from the state.
"We may go to the Legislature to finish it off," she said.
Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, said he supports the idea but thinks it would be a difficult sell because of the state’s recent budget woes.
"I’m seeing two faces on this situation, and I wish they’d make up their mind on whether they want to be more (financially) independent or they want to be more dependent," Gray said.
Sen. Pete Rios, a Democrat from District 23, which includes Apache Junction,
said the proposal is overdue considering Maricopa County’s booming and aging population of more than 3 million.
He also said he would support the universities selling bonds, giving them money or a backing public vote to generate sales tax money for the project.
"It’s about time," Rios said. "We should have had a medical school here a long time ago."
The regents, appointed by the governor to oversee the state’s three universities, plan to endorse the proposal during their meeting next week in Flagstaff. Regents President Gary Stuart, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and District 6 City Councilman Greg Stanton helped develop the plan with Crow and Likins. Details were determined on a recent fishing trip, Stuart said.
The team met Monday with hospital executives in Gordon’s office to present the proposal, forge stronger ties and talk about the possibility of a connection with the UA College of Medicine.
Representatives from Banner Health, Mayo Hospital, Scottsdale Healthcare, Maricopa Health System, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix Baptist Hospital and Medical Center, the V.A. Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital responded and attended.
UA will keep its medical school in Tucson and open a four-year medical school in Phoenix. Valley residents wanting to attend medical school in state would not have to go to Tucson.
UA already works with nine Phoenix hospitals where about 40 percent of its medical students get clinical experience during their last two years.
ASU would benefit through the research and possible grants.
A site for the campus has not been selected; however, Phoenix may provide land for the site in its Phoenix Biomedical Campus next to the Arizona Center.
The medical campus proposal includes:
• UA College of Medicine focusing on needs specific to the Valley.
• UA College of Pharmacy.
• ASU College of Nursing.
• A new department called ASU Biomedical Informatics.
• A link between the ASU College of Nursing and its nutrition program.
• UA facilities in a partnership with one or more existing teaching hospitals.
• Joint ASU and UA research facilities.
• Work with the Translational Genomics Institute, area hospitals and foundations.
Crow said the Valley is the largest in the nation without a research medical school, adding: "It’s time to act. We couldn’t sit around any longer."