BCM and Baylor U?

January 13, 2010

The Houston Chronicle reports this morning that Baylor University “has been making serious overtures to bring [BCM] back into the fold.” I hope to have more time to comment on this later, but my initial thoughts on this idea are all negative.

It’s clear why Baylor U. would want BCM. BCM is the #1 medical school in Texas. It’s internationally recognized and generates hundreds of millions in annual grant revenue. But I don’t see what are the benefits to BCM?

  • Baylor U isn’t very financially secure itself. It has one of the lowest endowment per student ratios in the country.
  • Baylor U is 200 miles away. So there won’t a lot of opportunity for collaboration between BCM and Baylor faculty, or course offerings to BCM students. Since, BCM has limited course offerings, BCM students needing deeper courses in math, stats, physics, chemistry, or computer science classes typically take these classes at Rice.
  • Baylor U isn’t a tier 1 research university. Such a merger will have a detrimental effect on BCM’s brand and prestige. And in academics, prestige is everything. BCM will lose faculty and, subsequently, lose it’s appeal to the top students.

I hope to have more to say later.

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BCM-Rice is a no-go

January 12, 2010

I’m sorry to report that it looks like the merger between BCM and Rice has fallen through:

To: The Faculty, staffs and students of Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University

Dear Colleagues:

We are writing to inform you that Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University have ended our discussions about a possible merger of our two institutions. At the same time, both institutions have agreed to develop further our existing academic and research relationship, which has grown significantly over the years.

Since we signed a memorandum of understanding in March of 2009, we have been in extensive discussions in an attempt to meet several conditions that both institutions considered to be essential for a successful merger. We joined in a thorough and deliberate process that explored the many benefits and challenges a merger would entail. With the MOU due to expire this month, the leadership of both institutions decided it is in the best interests of both BCM and Rice University to strengthen the existing relationship without a formal merger.

The months of discussion have provided a great deal of information that we will use to build on existing joint programs, such as in neuroscience and global health initiatives, and to create new ones that will best serve both institutions. A report prepared by a joint committee of faculty members from each institution identified many possibilities for collaboration that will be considered in the coming months.

We want to thank our administrative and faculty teams for their hard and creative work over the past year. Our respect for each other increased daily as we grew to know each other and each other’s work better. We learned that we share similar missions and a commitment to the highest standards of education, research and community service. So, while we are bringing the merger discussions to a close, we are opening a new chapter of collaboration that will advance the field of biomedicine and improve human health.

William T. Butler, M.D.
Interim President
Baylor College of Medicine

David W. Leebron
President
Rice University

Rice and BCM already worked pretty closely together, so I’m interested to see more details about this new relationship.

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