A projected medical complex may be the cure for what ails us

By Web Master

As Michigan continues to top the nation’s list of states with outbound-moving graduates, Oakland University continues to dig its heels into metro Detroit.

With OU’s plans to bring a medical park — complete with a Human Health Building, medical school building and research facility, with other buildings to follow — the university will establish itself as a self-sustaining benefactor of economic growth and research in a state that continues to be haunted by the ghosts of the automotive industry’s past.

We support this growth for both the direct and indirect benefits that it offers OU students, faculty and Michigan taxpayers.

For science students and faculty at OU, the benefits are obvious and plentiful: The experience of working alongside one another will boost each others’ resumes and careers. OU’s alliance with William Beaumont Hospitals will ensure that the medical school will have professionals of the highest caliber teaching as well as jobs waiting for those being taught.

For OU administration, the benefits are similarly plentiful: As medical research is completely unconnected to the automotive industry, it represents a new frontier of prospective earnings, employees and culture to metro Detroit.

OU president Dr. Gary Russi has estimated that the medical school alone will spark $1 billion in economic activity. OU stands to profit tremendously based on that figure in the same way that the University of Michigan Health System has brought global acclaim to U-M.

Students and faculty at OU who aren’t in the science department may wonder where they fit in the plan. Even with the national economic downturn, tuition rates continue to climb and Michigan taxpayers are being asked to pay $40 million of the estimated $65 million it will cost to build the Human Health Building.

There remains concern that the OU administration may be pushing its growth too far, too fast. A lot of the growth seems simply dependent on taxpayers’ trust in the decision-making of OU’s administration.

Dr. Virinder Moudgil, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, told The Oakland Post Tuesday that the inaugural medical school class is still on course to start in 2010 despite the national economic downturn. Unlike the Human Health Building, the med school is being funded privately.

However, the indirect benefits offered by the medical park to the next class of OU graduates are nearly as far-reaching as those in the inaugural medical school class. Any improvement made to OU now or in the future increases the value of our degrees, just as a successful Golden Grizzlies team helps students outside of the athletic department. For example, if you want to go to a graduate school in California, they may have heard of OU because its new medical research dominates the headlines.

To taxpayers, the indirect benefits are numerous as well: Construction of new buildings will call construction workers in for work, graduates staying in the area for medical jobs will buy groceries from local stores and so on.

OU’s commitment to the success of the community and the student body should be commended.