While College of Medicine Founding Dean Ernest Yoder addressed the Academic Senate on Tuesday, some senators expressed deep concerns for the university and its students as CMED continues to develop.
Senator Steve Thompson was worried CMED is incurring costs that are too high during a period of campus-wide cutbacks. He cited the 88 instructors hired by CMED, saying they create too high of an instructor-student ratio when factoring in the 400 students it plans to enroll across all four classes by 2017.
Thompson said his department is required to have 15 students per class. CMED totals 4.5 students per instructor.
“It seems like every summer, while we’re all away, (CMED) is costing more and more,” Thompson said. “While we can’t even afford to buy pencils, it seems a little strange. As a faculty member, and as a student, you’re seeing that we’re cutting back more and more.”
Although he said he initially supported the creation of CMED, Thompson has found it harder to support in recent years.
“If we were flush with cash, fine,” Thompson said. “But how we’re increasing tuition and making faculty cut back, (CMED) is more difficult for me to support. We got 20,000 (students) and only 400 medical students. Down the road, I’m worried about how students will be attracted to CMU.”
There are 25 full-time faculty hired for CMED’s on-campus location, Yoder said. Sixty-three instructors were assigned to the CMED East campus in Saginaw.
Yoder said CMED’s teacher-to-student ratio is normal for medical schools, comparing its ratio with other medical schools such as Michigan State University.
“This is a normal amount of instructors,” Yoder said.
Another senator, Sandy Lane, was concerned about the safety of students traveling to rural areas such as Saginaw that see more violent crime than Mount Pleasant.
“I was wondering about the safety for students in Saginaw,” Lane said. “I know these areas, Saginaw, Flint, are just getting worse and worse. How will students stay safe?”
Yoder said plans are in place to upgrade the security systems at little cost to the university.
“Part of the planning involves that security relationship,” Yoder said. “(CMU Chief of Police) Bill Yeagley has been part of our team. We will update our security systems to make it better for students and staff. There have been no incidents related to students.”
The cost of the security upgrade will be included in CMED East’s planned $25 million budget, Yoder said. He said that the hospitals, St. Mary’s of Michigan and Covenant Health Care, will pick up more than 50 percent of the funding.
CMED is just $4 million shy of its fund-raising goal for phase-two construction at CMED’s east campus in Saginaw.
Yoder said that phase two’s goal is $25 million, and that the same goal for phase one is already completed.
“We have the funding, so it’s ready to go,” Yoder said of phase one. “And the two hospitals are providing us a lot of extra space. They’re great partners.”
Yoder said construction in Saginaw will begin by the end of the month.
Phase One consisted of classroom construction for the 56,000 sq. ft. building in Sagniaw for the expected 208 third and fourth-year students, while Phase Two will entail the development of clinical space at the two partnered hospitals.
Yoder said the university has received $18 million in government funding from the two hospitals for their residency programs. He said instructor salaries at those locations will easily be paid by the added funding.
“They’re training residents and students at the same time,” Yoder said. “Their salaries are covered by those dollars. That part is a really good deal.”