With the gift — the largest ever received by the university — the College of Medicine will change its focus and work to improve the overall health of underserved Oklahoma communities, both rural and urban, by providing additional community-based medical student education programs and increasing the number of physician graduates. The college will also develop an undergraduate fast-track program, which will allow a student to complete college and medical school in less than eight years.
The school's five-year goals include ensuring that 80 percent of graduates establish their practices in Oklahoma and work with underserved populations; expanding the availability of clinical services so all patients are able to access the right practitioner at the right time; developing an interdisciplinary research enterprise; creating an $85 million annual increase in regional economic impact; and adding sixteen hundred jobs in northeastern Oklahoma.
The gift includes $35 million to endow thirty-five faculty chairs; $7.5 million for start-up costs, including faculty recruitment and infrastructure development; and $7.5 million for a scholarship and loan-forgiveness program for students who commit to medical service to underserved rural and urban areas throughout Oklahoma and follow through after graduation. The gift will be staged and funded according to benchmarks, agreed on by the university and the foundation.
"Our state has the unfortunate distinction of having the worst health outcomes in the nation, a situation made even worse by the enormous disparities that exist according to income and access to care," said Ken Levit, executive director of the foundation. "The effort to establish the nation's first School of Community Medicine is designed to address this challenge. We hope that the additional faculty that this grant will provide as well as the talented medical students who will be drawn to this innovative program from throughout the country will make a measurable impact for better health in communities across Oklahoma."