Evansville med school expansion brews

Devyn Curry

Although some students may be unaware of Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville’s presence on USI’s campus, the 46 students enrolled see it as an opportunity for their future in the medical field to grow.

With the possibility of relocation, opportunities may arise for the school of medicine, its students and USI.

Ally McDaniel, a second year med school student, said she enjoys the small class sizes because it helps her learn efficiently in a lecture environment, and the professors are all located on the same floor.

Gary White, gross anatomy instructor at IU-Evansville, said the school of medicine and USI benefit from one another in different ways.

“We have interacted with the science department, and they come over here to teach,” White said. “We had some research projects we both worked on as well. I think being on USI’s campus has benefited both the school of medicine and USI.”

A tentative date for relocation is August 2017. If IU-Evansville relocates, IU, USI, the University of Evansville and Ivy Tech may all become affiliates.

Included in the expansion are plans to develop a multi-institutional health science education and research campus. Local officials said southern Indiana not only has the need for a medical school expansion, but also the necessary means to fund and develop programs.

The IU School of Medicine’s Board of Trustees has the overall say in the relocation of IU-Evansville. USI’s campus and downtown Evansville are two options for the new site.

Following weeks of debate, Evansville City Council voted unanimously Sept. 30 for the $20 million in public financing for a downtown convention hotel.

The city council leaders were concerned about the previous levels of public subsidy, but Mayor Lloyd Winnecke assured them that Evansville’s Downtown Tax Increment Financing and other revenue sources could pay debt on the hotel while drawing in future projects, namely, the IU School of Medicine.

“I think that it will make it more like a medical school campus atmosphere,” McDaniel said. “Not only will the medical school faculty be there, but also the doctors that lecture in addiction to the professors.”

Established in 1971, IU-Evansville shared two campuses between USI and the University of Evansville. By 1994, it became difficult for students and faculty to travel from campus to campus, so IU decided to move both locations into USI’s Health Professions Center.

Restricted access to the third floor of the Health Professions Center makes it difficult for students outside IU-Evansville to know it exists on USI’s campus. The only indication is a sign next to the first-floor elevator that reads: “Third floor: Indiana University School of Medicine.”

If the med school moves, the third floor of the Health Professions Center may become available to USI. The IU School of Medicine may still pay for the floor and utilize it as a research facility.

“I am sure that the College of Nursing and Health Professions could use this space,” White said. “If we build a new campus, eventually USI will join us in that endeavor, and we will still be together in some form or another.”