UNT to consider combining main campus, health science center into one institution

Posted Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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DENTON -- University of North Texas regents will decide next week whether to begin a study to determine whether the university's Fort Worth health science center should be combined with the main campus in Denton into one academic institution, a model described as more beneficial for research.

On Thursday, the UNT board of regents will consider studying whether to put both schools under one umbrella. The UNT Health Science Center would remain in Fort Worth, officials said.

"The decision next week is the start of a three-month study," Chancellor Lee Jackson said. The results of the study would be presented to regents in November.

Jackson said many states have already combined health science centers and medical schools with their flagship universities. This structure helps research, he said.

"It creates synergy," Jackson said.

Though such a structure is not the norm in Texas, Jackson said similar changes are under way at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. UT Austin started developing a medical school in Austin, and the Texas A&M System Board is looking at an administrative move to combine its health science center with the main campus.

"We are trying to be the third," Jackson said.

Jackson said this latest effort is separate from an ongoing push to gain an M.D. program for the health science center, which has an osteopathic medical school. Plans are also under way to open a pharmacy school by August 2013.

Jackson said in a news release that a combined entity would increase national and international research funding, and improve faculty and staff recruiting and retention.

Health science center President Scott Ransom said other top health science programs work effectively as part of larger universities.

"With a continued commitment to expand our programs, our enrollment, and our research in Fort Worth, we look forward to evaluating the possibilities," Ransom said in a news release.

Combining the two schools would require changes in state law and approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Legislature and the governor.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane Smith,

(817) 390-7675

Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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