Sometimes, a university can look too ambitious. People get confused.That seems to be what happened with the University of North Texas.When UNT System regents in August gave the go-ahead to study putting the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth under the same administrative umbrella as the main campus in Denton, it at least made sense to ask whether such a consolidation would make sense.But raising that question apparently raised many other questions, not least of which was, what does this mean for the pursuit of an M.D. degree program?Years of effort had gone in to developing the proposal for adding an M.D. offering along with the D.O. training that the health science center's Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine has provided since its inception.Support for the M.D. program wasn't easy to get, but it had been built. That included commitments from individuals, foundations and hospitals for more than $25 million, enough to cover the estimated operating costs for the first four to five years it would take to produce graduates.The big missing piece is legislation. Under current law, the school can only confer osteopathic medical degrees.TCOM is one of five colleges at the 1,700-student health science center. The newest component is the UNT System College of Pharmacy, a doctoral program taking applications for its first class.UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson said TCOM medical student enrollment has doubled, to 230 students, in six years, and it could grow as much as facilities allow, but the school can't offer an M.D. without lawmakers' approval.UNTHSC didn't build enough momentum to get the necessary bill for an M.D. introduced in the 2011 legislative session, but officials have said the venture remains a priority.Merger talk became a distraction, with questions raised about whether one effort hinged on the other or one would take precedence over the other.When the merger issue came before the regents again in November, it was taken off the agenda. Jackson said it's been tabled indefinitely.Any change to the governing structure of the Fort Worth and Denton campuses would require approval from the Legislature, governor and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.With the 2013 session starting Jan. 8, Jackson said in a telephone interview Friday, the better strategy seemed to focus on a single key request. Concerns had been raised, he said, that officials "make sure we ask them for one clear thing."That's not to say there's any guarantee lawmakers will approve the M.D. program.Though UNTHSC has a strong argument, given that the proposal doesn't seek state funding, there's plenty of competition surrounding medical education.South Texas lawmakers have argued for years that the region needs a medical school. With the University of Texas moving forward with a medical school in Austin after voters in that city approved a tax to help finance it, more maneuvering can be expected to persuade legislators to find money for a medical school in the Rio Grande Valley.For UNTHSC, the biggest push needs to be convincing North Texas lawmakers to get behind the M.D. proposal."It's an idea whose time is coming, but I don't think it's wise to predict the Legislature," Jackson said."I believe it can happen quickly when there is a consensus on the part of the Tarrant County delegation and the community."