Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
roadrunner

Rice - Baylor Med Merger

74 posts in this topic

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6083117.html

"Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have begun holding serious discussions that could lead to a merger of the state's top private university and one of the country's best medical schools.

A merger would bring Rice the reputational enhancement it has long desired and Baylor the security of a university affiliation, which is often necessary to keep medical schools afloat financially. Baylor is one of only nine stand-alone medical schools in the United States."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a merger would be beneficial for both institutions. Collaborative synergy and joint grant applications could create an even bigger powerhouse in the biomedical sciences.

Moreover, I was interested in the articles mention about concern over BCM's precarious financial situation, and the future of its President...

"
The possible strains have raised questions about the future of Baylor's president, Dr. Peter Traber. A spokesperson declined comment, but numerous sources in the Medical Center said his leadership is the subject of board discussion."

The BCM Board should discuss his leadership as well as their own. In just 5 short years, BCM kissed off a 50-year relationship with Methodist, then couldn't play nice with St. Lukes, then leveraged itself to the hilt to build a hospital in an ever-evolving and highly competitive, managed health care environment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heard about this possible merger a few weeks ago. Only problem is BCM is broke and obviously their leaders don't know what the hell they are doing so it sounds more like a "bailout" to me, with Rice acting in place of the government. Not sure if Rice can handle all the problems it would inherit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rice has directed more attention to medical research in the last decade. It officially became a TMC institution in 2003 I think. Thinking of taking over Baylor clearly shows Rice's vision. But they do need to iron out a lot of things, one of which is Baylor's affiliations with TMC hospitals. Without good practice sites there is no good med school.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's brainstorm a new name.

I'm voting for "Baylorice" -- Pronounced "Bale of Rice."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope that Rice wouldn't change their name...since Baylor Med is apparently broke, why not absorb them?

The "clash of cultures" seems imminent. I say no. :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I hope that Rice wouldn't change their name...since Baylor Med is apparently broke, why not absorb them?

The "clash of cultures" seems imminent. I say no. :o

Rice won't change their name. They will acquire a medical school.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let's brainstorm a new name.

I'm voting for "Baylorice" -- Pronounced "Bale of Rice."

In all seriousness, though, if this thing were to happen, I would love to see it named the DeBakey School of Medicine at Rice University. Not only did Dr. DeBakey bring tremendous prominence to BCM, he assigned many of his patent royalties to the institution over the years. In so doing, he may be one of BCM's biggest, all-time donors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In all seriousness, though, if this thing were to happen, I would love to see it named the DeBakey School of Medicine at Rice University. Not only did Dr. DeBakey bring tremendous prominence to BCM, he assigned many of his patent royalties to the institution over the years. In so doing, he may be one of BCM's biggest, all-time donors.

"Say it ain't so Joe!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Baylor has a great national reputation and would be a nice fit with Rice's image. Too bad Baylor and Methodist had such an ugly split though. It was so ugly that I wonder if this is Traber's last middle finger effort to Methodist? After all Methodist announced the possibility of using their new affiliation with Cornell Med to help the University of Houston open a Medical School in the TMC tied to Methodist...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Baylor has a great national reputation and would be a nice fit with Rice's image. Too bad Baylor and Methodist had such an ugly split though. It was so ugly that I wonder if this is Traber's last middle finger effort to Methodist? After all Methodist announced the possibility of using their new affiliation with Cornell Med to help the University of Houston open a Medical School in the TMC tied to Methodist...

Methodist affiliated with Cornell because the "Best Hospital" rankings require a medical school affiliation... basically Methodist just payed to put the Cornell name on official documents and signs. Very little collaboration goes on with the institution in New York. The establishment of a UofH medical school affiliated with Methodist is an entirely different issue. Although, most people think El Paso is next in line for a new medical school (affiliated with Texas Tech, I believe)... and it is clearly harder to sell a third med school in the Houston area. But I think it will happen eventually, and Methodist's new research building and institute is a step in that direction.

I think BCM royally screwed up when they broke from Methodist... they lost huge numbers of medicine and surgical faculty to better paying jobs and nicer facilities at Methodist. Seems like their leadership is a mess. The ambitious hospital development plus a terrible economy has exposed serious institutional problems. They continue to be ranked in the top 10 medical schools though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Methodist affiliated with Cornell because the "Best Hospital" rankings require a medical school affiliation... basically Methodist just payed to put the Cornell name on official documents and signs. Very little collaboration goes on with the institution in New York. The establishment of a UofH medical school affiliated with Methodist is an entirely different issue. Although, most people think El Paso is next in line for a new medical school (affiliated with Texas Tech, I believe)... and it is clearly harder to sell a third med school in the Houston area. But I think it will happen eventually, and Methodist's new research building and institute is a step in that direction.

I think BCM royally screwed up when they broke from Methodist... they lost huge numbers of medicine and surgical faculty to better paying jobs and nicer facilities at Methodist. Seems like their leadership is a mess. The ambitious hospital development plus a terrible economy has exposed serious institutional problems. They continue to be ranked in the top 10 medical schools though.

Texas Tech has already established their second medical school and yes it is in El Paso

http://www.ttuhsc.edu/elpaso/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Texas Tech has already established their second medical school and yes it is in El Paso

http://www.ttuhsc.edu/elpaso/

Cool... wasn't aware it was already approved.

The Texas Tech School of Medicine was established in 1969 for the West Texas region and El Paso has hosted a regional campus since 1973. The El Paso campus has provided clinical training for a large portion of Texas Tech's School of Medicine for well over 30 years. The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at El Paso is a new full four year medical school that will have its first freshman class start in August 2009.

So I guess, now there is a TT med school based in Lubbock, but still with 3rd and 4th year rotations in El Paso and a TT med school entirely based in El Paso.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I hope that Rice wouldn't change their name...since Baylor Med is apparently broke, why not absorb them?

The "clash of cultures" seems imminent. I say no. :o

I will suggest BCM at Rice U.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update on the potential academic and research "powerhouse:"

We are writing to update you on the status of merger discussions between Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University – discussions which could

join our institutions into an academic and research powerhouse that could make huge contributions to health and prosperity here and around the world.

Texas Children’s Hospital is playing an integral role as these discussions progress. We have before us a unique opportunity for all three institutions, and others, to take a giant step forward in creating a world-class university and academic medical center that will serve our stakeholders, city and state well. We appreciate the enthusiastic expressions of support for these discussions that we have received from our various constituencies.

The advancement of education and research provides the primary impetus for the discussions, and we believe the resulting knowledge and discovery can improve health care and, in the process, create a dynamic engine of biomedical enterprise in the Texas Medical Center. The partnership would create a premier research university with unparalleled ability to translate new discoveries into innovative medical care that protects and restores the health of the patients we would serve, and of

people around the world who would benefit from these treatments and technologies.

Many issues remain to be resolved. Positive solutions must be found, for example, for the new BCM hospital now under construction and the relocation

and continuing operations of the Baylor Clinic. Texas Children's Hospital and BCM -- already primary partners in pediatric and obstetrical care -- are

working on identifying solutions. BCM also has important relationships with other institutions in the Texas Medical Center, including The Methodist Hospital, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Ben Taub General Hospital. A successful merger would include strengthening those collaborations.

The proximity of these and other institutions in the Texas Medical Center is rich ground for such partnerships. In this age of bioscience, the results of that collaborative research offer breathtaking possibilities for the prosperity and prominence of Houston and Texas.

BCM, TCH and Rice are committed to this significant and worthy goal and we will continue to update you as the discussions evolve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BCM got ahead of itself, sadly. Med schools have such vicious internal politics that that can happen more easily than you would think for such large behemoths (they will also have a doubly hard time integrating outside influence). Endowments are going to keep taking hits for the foreseeable future, so it's a question of the extent to which Rice sees that writing on the wall and decides the higher profile name placement is worth the very serious risks. If they risk it, Rice will get top billing because reputation promotion is half the game. Rice University will remain Rice University; BCM will much more likely become the Rice University Baylor College of Medicine - indicating that it's one of the subsidiary faculties (a bit more like MIT Sloan, although there was no merger there, than a merged name like Case Western) - than simply Rice Baylor College of Medicine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
http://www.nacubo.org/Images/All%20Institu..._2007%20NES.pdf

"""Rice is the more affluent of the two institutions. As of June 30, its endowment was $4.6 billion. As of Sept. 30, Baylor's was $954 million."""

has Baylor somehow really eaten through 300+ million of their endowment? :mellow::huh:

Yes. If you compare nacubo's FY 2004 report, when the BCM endowment was $ .972 billion, to the 30/09/2007 one you link, when it was $ .954 billion, and then add in the statement in the back of their Winter 2008 print magazine that they have received just over $ .7 billion in philanthropic donations since 2003, they have eaten through a lot.

http://www.nacubo.org/documents/research/F...etsforPress.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have heard from a BCM staffer that one of the conditions of the breakup of the Baylor College of Medicine from Baylor University (in the 1960's) was that if the College of Medicine were to associate itself with another (then) Southwest Conference school it could no longer use the Baylor name. The proposed name would be something like the DeBakey College of Medicine at Rice University. Yes, the DeBakey name would definitely be used.

My source also said that the influential Jewish leadership of the Texas Children's Hospital really did not want to see Baylor re-associate itself with a "sectarian" institution (presumably Methodist or St. Luke's.) and that was one of the reasons why Rice was so attractive.

That plus apparently a lot of board overlap among Rice and BCM.

The time frame of this merger would be dependent upon substantial completion of the BCM hospital building structure so that it could be taken over by Harris County as a psychiatric hospital.

I have no way to substantiate any of this since I am hearing it secondhand. Just thought it was interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have heard from a BCM staffer that one of the conditions of the breakup of the Baylor College of Medicine from Baylor University (in the 1960's) was that if the College of Medicine were to associate itself with another (then) Southwest Conference school it could no longer use the Baylor name. The proposed name would be something like the DeBakey College of Medicine at Rice University. Yes, the DeBakey name would definitely be used.

That would be great. He has a great legacy with BCM, and, from what I understand, he had given (continues to give!) through patents of his inventions. We're not talking small numbers. :mellow:

My source also said that the influential Jewish leadership of the Texas Children's Hospital really did not want to see Baylor re-associate itself with a "sectarian" institution (presumably Methodist or St. Luke's.) and that was one of the reasons why Rice was so attractive.

Peter Wareing's jewish! Who knew? Oy! :D

Both institutions have had jewish leadership for many years. Actually it's a matter of business and business model.

Regarding Methodist

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes. If you compare nacubo's FY 2004 report, when the BCM endowment was $ .972 billion, to the 30/09/2007 one you link, when it was $ .954 billion, and then add in the statement in the back of their Winter 2008 print magazine that they have received just over $ .7 billion in philanthropic donations since 2003, they have eaten through a lot.

http://www.nacubo.org/documents/research/F...etsforPress.pdf

Your own numbers show they have not eaten through any like $300 Million of their endowment. To the contrary, you show their endowment going down by only $18 Million; one would imagine they might have had some losses on their investments. Perhaps they've burned through a lot of other money; I don't know. But not all money goes in the endowment.

The fact that they have raised just over $700 Million in donations since 2003, while the endowment has not grown substantially does not really tell us anything either. Not all donations go to the endowment (in fact, I would venture to guess that most do NOT go into the endowment) and not all of that money has necessarily been spent.

A lot of those donations are probably for the new hospital construction. (For example Dan Duncan gave $35 Million in 2004 for a new adult ambulatory care center, and also pledged $100 Million for the cancer center; Neither of those amounts is likely to be in the endowment; first, because they are pledged for specific items, including construction and equipment; and second because, at least in part, they are pledges that may not have been completely delivered yet.)

Edited by Houston19514

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This merger would be a pretty unusual thing, right, doesn't happen very often...?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have heard from a BCM staffer that one of the conditions of the breakup of the Baylor College of Medicine from Baylor University (in the 1960's) was that if the College of Medicine were to associate itself with another (then) Southwest Conference school it could no longer use the Baylor name. The proposed name would be something like the DeBakey College of Medicine at Rice University. Yes, the DeBakey name would definitely be used.

My source also said that the influential Jewish leadership of the Texas Children's Hospital really did not want to see Baylor re-associate itself with a "sectarian" institution (presumably Methodist or St. Luke's.) and that was one of the reasons why Rice was so attractive.

That plus apparently a lot of board overlap among Rice and BCM.

The time frame of this merger would be dependent upon substantial completion of the BCM hospital building structure so that it could be taken over by Harris County as a psychiatric hospital.

I have no way to substantiate any of this since I am hearing it secondhand. Just thought it was interesting.

My sources say that the original plan for the BCM hospital and clinic is still a go; The real question that needs to be answered is what happens to all of the faculty at SLEH when the new hospital opens. I think BCM has the potential to take a large faculty hit when this happens. Some of these folks are perfectly happy where they are and don't want to leave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone's happy to leave the proving job to the fact (that tamtagon picks up on) that this is an institution backed into a corner.

Your own numbers show they have not ...
This merger would be a pretty unusual thing, right, doesn't happen very often...?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyone's happy to leave the proving job to the fact (that tamtagon picks up on) that this is an institution backed into a corner.

really not sure where you're going with that. They may or may not be in financial difficulty; I do not know and have not expressed an opinion. And that is a quite different (although related) question than the question of whether they have eaten through a lot of their endowment.

All my post demonstrated was that, at least according to the figures you posted, they had NOT eaten through any significant amount of their endowment (contrary to your statement).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, BCM has sent out the word that they are finishing the exterior of their new hospital, but will suspend construction of the interior indefinitely until they have the financial capacity to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So, BCM has sent out the word that they are finishing the exterior of their new hospital, but will suspend construction of the interior indefinitely until they have the financial capacity to do so.

WTF!? Are they that seriously mismanaged? :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here' the full story link from the Chron.

Chronicle

In an e-mail to faculty, Butler said the temporary suspension buys time to acquire additional capital through philanthropy, federal funds and other sources, gives the markets a chance to settle and provides an opportunity to consider project partners.

Sources said that by not building out the interior, it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here' the full story link from the Chron.

Chronicle

In an e-mail to faculty, Butler said the temporary suspension buys time to acquire additional capital through philanthropy, federal funds and other sources, gives the markets a chance to settle and provides an opportunity to consider project partners.

Sources said that by not building out the interior, it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An e-mail from Texas Children's did say that Baylor and Rice signed MOU on the merger, meaning that talks are still going on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Merger announced today. Rice will phase out engineering studies to make way for medical.

Dear Rice community,

Rice faces a changing world in its second century, and we must embrace the challenges of the years ahead not as individuals but as a community. Recent events have shown us that our future leaders will have to be concerned with the human element of the future, as well as the technological. It is for this reason that we have elected to move forward in our negotiations with the Baylor College of Medicine. We believe, and feel confident, that timely action will better allow us to prepare our students for the challenges ahead. It is thus with great pride, and with the backing of the Board of Trustees, that I announce to you our great institution's merger with the Baylor College of Medicine.

In addition to this important milestone in Rice's history, an addendum has been made to Rice's Vision for the Second Century. Although Rice has long been known for--and indeed committed to--providing quality education for tomorrow's scientists and engineers, we must continually look to the future in order to stay at the forefront of higher education. It is for this reason that a plan has been introduced whereby Rice University will transform, gradually taking upon itself another identity. As the global demands for healthcare continue to grow, we've chosen to make medicinal studies a priority--a priority that, unfortunately, requires sacrifice in other areas.

Although the details have not been finalized, a five-year plan has been approved by the Board of Trustees whereby the current undergraduate engineering curriculum will be gradually phased out to make room for promising medical fields. Our hope is that a focus on medicine will attract a host of creative, intelligent undergraduates to the Rice Premedical Institute. The plan also calls for modifications within other departments to emphasize this new direction. Although some might view these changes with resentment, we strongly believe that such changes are necessary if Rice's Vision for the Second Century is to be successful.

As is to be expected, the recent economic crisis has lent an urgency to Rice's planned changes. History has shown that maintaining competitive undergraduate programs in uncertain times is both financially risky and ethically impure. As demand for certain fields wanes, it is our responsibility as an institution of higher learning to ensure that Rice students study within areas that not only show promise but also are financially viable.

As always, Rice will continue to adapt and grow as global demands shift.

Thank you for the suggestions and insight that have helped shape our decisions so far. We continue to welcome your ideas going forward and sincerely appreciate your understanding and cooperation in this matter.

With regards,

David W. Leebron

President

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. That is big news.

At least it would be if this weren't April Fool's.

Edited by sidegate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, that rings pretty clearly with the familiar undertone of clever engineering students.

Well done and realistic sounding on its face, but it doesn't quite hold up to the smell test.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also got that same email from Rice's president. The part that lead me to believe it was not true was where he said they are phasing out Rice's undergraduate engineering program. Besides that it sounded pretty believable.

Dear faculty, staff and students,

You probably already figured out that an e-mail you received earlier today about "Important news regarding Rice and Baylor" was sent by someone other than President Leebron even though it had his signature and listed "president@rice.edu" as the sender. Apparently it was intended as an April Fools' joke. Rest assured that no decision has been made about the merger of Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, and we won't be phasing out the School of Engineering.

With regards,

Linda Thrane

Vice President for Public Affairs

Edited by Jax

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, clever having the return and sending email as the president's email.

Too bad the VP for Public Affairs spoiled the joke about an hour later...

------

edit - Jax posted that email

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

State felony if I'm not mistaken to impersonate someone else's e-mail address. I wonder if Leebron shares their sense of humor. I don't get the impression he would.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
State felony if I'm not mistaken to impersonate someone else's e-mail address. I wonder if Leebron shares their sense of humor. I don't get the impression he would.

If he didn't he would not be president of Rice University I assure you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I'm not Rice so you probably know better but he did shut down Valhalla for quite a while after the Ike incident. Seems to me to reflect a willingness to hold people to the rules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is one new development in the Rice-BCM merger--an interim report by the Faculty Merger Review Committee. It's interim because the negotiations have been so secret, that the faculty committee is still in the dark on some things and not permitted to report on others. Thier main concern is the imbalance--BCM is much larger than Rice, and has much larger operating costs. (More details here.)

One faculty member, Moshe Vardi, gave a public lecture on the merger that was very much against it. He based his conclusion on publicly available information, including some very damning financial numbers from Baylor (and not so great financials from Rice--who knew Rice was carrying debt? Not me, and I am an alum.) You can read about his lecture here.

Some will automatically dismiss faculty concerns as whining, but the facts about Baylor's serious financial problems are true and would be inherited by Rice if the merger occurred, and frankly, the administrations of the two schools have been talking in secret for over a year now, and this lack of transparency is very worrying. And anyone who has driven around Rice in the last few years knows that President Leebron is an empire builder, but in this financial climate, perhaps what we need is a consolidator, someone who can hunker down and get Rice back on a solid footing.

In any case, as an alumnus, I am disturbed at the vast silence from the administration on this matter. All I ever hear from them are endless requests for more money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is one new development in the Rice-BCM merger--an interim report by the Faculty Merger Review Committee. It's interim because the negotiations have been so secret, that the faculty committee is still in the dark on some things and not permitted to report on others. Thier main concern is the imbalance--BCM is much larger than Rice, and has much larger operating costs. (More details here.)

One faculty member, Moshe Vardi, gave a public lecture on the merger that was very much against it. He based his conclusion on publicly available information, including some very damning financial numbers from Baylor (and not so great financials from Rice--who knew Rice was carrying debt? Not me, and I am an alum.) You can read about his lecture here.

Some will automatically dismiss faculty concerns as whining, but the facts about Baylor's serious financial problems are true and would be inherited by Rice if the merger occurred, and frankly, the administrations of the two schools have been talking in secret for over a year now, and this lack of transparency is very worrying. And anyone who has driven around Rice in the last few years knows that President Leebron is an empire builder, but in this financial climate, perhaps what we need is a consolidator, someone who can hunker down and get Rice back on a solid footing.

In any case, as an alumnus, I am disturbed at the vast silence from the administration on this matter. All I ever hear from them are endless requests for more money.

Academics are conservative by nature. Add to that the fact that this is a conservative school in the South (which makes it pretty conservative), and I'm not in the least bit surprised Rice faculty aren't turning cartwheels over this initiative. It's progressive. It's bold. It breaks the mold. Everything that conservatives aren't/don't do. The reason for the silence is that if you enjoined the faculty on either side in this, you'd never get a thing done. This is for the administrators to handle, that's what they get paid for. It'll happen whether the faculty approve it or not (I doubt many will resign over it) so everyone needs to just grab an oar and make it work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Academics are conservative by nature. Add to that the fact that this is a conservative school in the South (which makes it pretty conservative), and I'm not in the least bit surprised Rice faculty aren't turning cartwheels over this initiative. It's progressive. It's bold. It breaks the mold. Everything that conservatives aren't/don't do. The reason for the silence is that if you enjoined the faculty on either side in this, you'd never get a thing done. This is for the administrators to handle, that's what they get paid for. It'll happen whether the faculty approve it or not (I doubt many will resign over it) so everyone needs to just grab an oar and make it work.

Did you even read any of Vardi's presentation? University administrators get paid to safeguard and grow the university's endowment, not to act like they're in the M&A division of an oil company and enter into ill-advised deals that entail assuming large amounts of debt in a down economy. I'm a Rice alum, and I have yet to talk to a single person among my fellow alumni who thinks this deal is a good idea.

But I guess it's easier to spout a bunch of ill-informed bizspeak than it is to examine the details of the proposed deal on its merits (or lack thereof). :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like I said, it matters little what you, I, the alumni on either side or anyone else thinks. If being ill informed is working for a departmental head at one of the institutions involved who is on a joint academic committee overseeing the merger then I guess I am. My apologies. It's going ahead, so let's all make the best of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like I said, it matters little what you, I, the alumni on either side or anyone else thinks. If being ill informed is working for a departmental head at one of the institutions involved who is on a joint academic committee overseeing the merger then I guess I am. My apologies. It's going ahead, so let's all make the best of it.

I think the objection to your post was that it was entirely ad hominem, and that it did not address either the primary concern brought up by the Faculty Review Merger Committee (the imbalance in the size and operating costs of the two institutions) or the well-documented financial concern of Dr. Vardi (that Rice, which is already carrying a debt load and a reduced endowment, would be taking on a huge debt load by buying Baylor--so much so that the school would be imperiled). Vardi offered up plentiful documentary evidence, which you have ignored.

The reason for the silence is that if you enjoined the faculty on either side in this, you'd never get a thing done.

The administration has been working in secret on this for more than a year with nothing to show for it--all while BCM has been sinking closer and closer to insolvency. Is it really so shocking that the faculty and alumni (whose money Rice has been begging for with unusual ferocity for the past year) are starting to ask questions? I don't want Rice to become the next Upsala College or Barrington College. This is perhaps the biggest decision for Rice in its history, and the silence has been deafening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like I said, it matters little what you, I, the alumni on either side or anyone else thinks. If being ill informed is working for a departmental head at one of the institutions involved who is on a joint academic committee overseeing the merger then I guess I am. My apologies. It's going ahead, so let's all make the best of it.

Personally I don't think it's going to happen. A year ago I thought it might but I will be very surprised now if it does. Rice is already in over their heads with the BRC. It's draining their endowment and will continue to do so for a long time. They have enough to worry about with out taking on BCM's problems. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've heard some things from some fairly well-placed and credible sources. I can't really say more than that, so trust me or not.

1. There is significant concern among the Rice faculty, not only about the financial impact, but also on the cultural impact. There would be a huge increase in faculty numbers. Dr. Vardi is one of the most outspoken, but many of his colleagues are very concerned.

2. Having said that, there is a strong feeling that Rice has little to no choice about going forward, for three reasons:

a.) most if not all of the institutions that Rice considers as its peers have a medical school and the concern is that a generation or so down the road Rice will lose significant ground and become a second-or-third-rate institution without one.

b.) the handwriting seems quite clearly on the wall that governmental and corporate scientific granting will become increasingly bioscience based, with strong emphasis on medical applications.

c.) If Baylor Med fails it will be a big loss for the community. Rice doesn't want to be in the political position of being seen as the institution that _could_ have saved Baylor and didn't. There is a real concern that this will happen even if the merger falls apart for reasons that Rice can't really control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a very good editorial about the Rice-BCM merger in the Chronicleyesterday. It completely avoided such fuzzy pollyanna words as "synergy" and "prestige" and looked instead at BCM's finances.

The proposed merger is actually an acquisition by Rice University. BCM is on shaky financial footing and its current situation is not financially tenable (see publicly available financial documents at http://www.bcm.edu/oor/ and http://www.dacbond.com). Over the past six-year period from 2004 to 2009, BCM’s operating expenses have exceeded its revenues by more than $300 million; the largest annual loss ($72 million) was incurred in the most recent fiscal year, ending June 30, 2009. Meanwhile, its debt has ballooned eightfold, to more than $850 million, an amount exceeding its endowment.

The editorial then examined all of BCM's sources of income and discussed the level of risk or volatility associated with each.

About half of the $1 billion-plus budget comes from hospital contracts and medical services, that is, from fees collected from insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid and others, to provide medical treatment to patients. Another third comes from grants and contracts to perform biomedical research; most of these funds are from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The rest comes from a variety of sources, including an annual payment from the state of Texas that currently amounts to $50 million, return on the endowment that is around $60 million, and philanthropy, which varies in the range of $20 million to $40 million annually. The problem, as we see it, is that these revenue sources are fundamentally unpredictable. The health care reform bills currently under consideration by Congress may result in significant changes to health care receipts. In these trying times, will the federal government continue to fund the NIH at its current rate? Will the state of Texas be able to afford BCM’s subsidy in the future? No one knows the answers to these questions with certainty.

But Rice is pretty rich, right? So Rice should be able to fill in for any BCM shortfall. Not so fast.

What is certain, however, is that Rice cannot afford to support BCM as is, and will certainly be unable to do so if there is a significant decline in any of these revenue sources. Rice derives approximately half of its operating budget from earnings on its endowment. Because of the recent financial crisis, Rice has seen its operating budget reduced by 5 percent in each of the past two years. While the magnitude of the cuts is small in comparison to BCM’s operating deficits, the cuts are deeply felt at Rice. Departmental budgets have been cut to the bone, and most seriously for the longer term, faculty positions open due to retirement and normal attrition are going unfilled, with potentially severe impact on the quality, or even the viability, of academic programs.

They conclude with a statement that perfectly echoes my own fears.

We aspire to stand among the world’s greatest universities. Can this vision be attained more quickly by diverting our course and merging with BCM, or will Rice simply become a medical school with a small, and possibly impoverished, university attached? Nobody knows for sure, but we firmly believe that merging poses an unacceptable risk to Rice University.

I am not a faculty member nor a staff member of Rice University--just a concerned alumnus. I am very happy to see someone actually looking at the numbers for a change instead of speaking in abstractions. Mergers in the business world often destroy shareholder value--but they certainly build up the egos of CEO and attract lots of adoring press reports. I think Rice+BCM is starting to look like AOL+TimeWarner.

Edited by RWB
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LOL, I was waiting for this post. There was an op-ed piece three weeks ago (which I guess you missed, or at least muttered sulkily as you read it) in which three BIOMEDICAL faculty (not four Arts faculty), and one arts for that matter, supported the merger. Oh and Rice's President too, forgot about him. Apparently four years at Rice has taught you just to see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear. Seems like a waste of money to me.

You'll note how I didn't lurch on to HAIF when that editorial was published, as you have done with this one, because I know that everyone's mind is pretty much made up on this merger, yours and mine included, and in doing so I would have achieved little beyond burdening the Internet with more pointless bytes of information. As you have done.

Edited by sidegate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0