Public Affairs & Media Relations
Frequently Asked Questions
The MUSC Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate, and students fully endorse the expansion of our area’s educational opportunities, and solidly support collaborations that address the current and emerging workforce needs. We are committed to working in partnership with the business community, the College of Charleston, area governments, and the Legislature on initiatives that work to this end, as long as they are well researched, planned, and fiscally responsible. We believe there are more cost-effective models that will produce superior results in a shorter time frame than the proposed merger legislation.
Q: Why does MUSC believe there are better alternatives to the current legislation?
A: MUSC, in collaboration with the College of Charleston, examined mergers and other collaborative relationships between other institutions nationwide. The results of the investigation and analysis are outlined in the White Paper, which is available here: http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/pr/news_you_can_use/pdf/whitepaper.pdf
Based on that analysis, MUSC leaders believe that there are better alternatives to meet Charleston’s workforce needs for several reasons:
- The cost of a merger to the State, the taxpayer, and the two institutions has not been studied. Based on data from other mergers of academic institutions, the costs will likely exceed several millions of dollars. New degree programs in computer sciences, engineering, and other STEM disciplines are needed in the Charleston area to meet current and future workforce needs. A prudent next step is to analyze the costs and benefits of a merger compared to the costs and benefits of other alternatives, such as a structured collaboration.
- The cost savings achieved in a merger by reducing duplication will be minor compared to the costs of merging. It is unclear where the funds will be found to support the merger and the development of degree programs. MUSC is concerned that insufficient funding could create a drain on the already strained resources of our two institutions, that will threaten MUSC’s primary missions, which are healthcare and biomedical research.
- The amount of time it will take to become accredited as a new institution (a necessity if the schools are merged) will be substantial, and any new degree programs to be offered by the new institution cannot be initiated until such accreditation is achieved. Thus, a merger is not the most timely way to meet the immediate educational needs in the Charleston region.
- The uncertainty and instability associated with a merger will undoubtedly negatively impact our ability, as well as that of the College of Charleston, to attract the most qualified faculty and students, as well as the ability to retain the existing excellent faculty and staff. Private philanthropy will also be greatly challenged.
- By its very nature, a merger is more exclusive than inclusive. Given the limited fiscal resources for education in South Carolina, MUSC believes the key to supporting growth in key areas (e.g. engineering, information technology, software development) is to be inclusive of programs at other institutions.
- A merger could undermine the interdependent relationship between the academic and clinical enterprises at MUSC. The current bill states that the merger plan must, at a minimum, “ensure clear separation of the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority from the greater institution.” We are concerned about the potentially negative consequences of this “clear separation” on our current clinical education experiences, joint faculty appointments between the Hospital Authority and MUSC, and on existing financial relationships.
- A merger could threaten our ability to achieve critical new initiatives. As defined by the legislation under consideration, the proposed governance structure of the institution resulting from a merger could potentially hinder MUSC’s ability to secure loans to fund new initiatives, such as the planned Children and Women’s hospital.
- The complicated and time-intensive process, associated with merging two vastly different institutions and cultures, will divert MUSC from achieving its mission, which since 1824, has been to save and improve lives, to teach others to save and improve lives, and to search for new ways to save and improve lives.
Q: Is MUSC in favor of any collaboration with the College of Charleston?
A: Absolutely. MUSC wants to work with the College of Charleston to meet the needs of the Charleston business community. We want our relationship with the College of Charleston to achieve desired outcomes in the most timely and cost effective manner, and in a way that both institutions support. It is a delicate balance between our primary mission of healthcare and biomedical research and meeting the business community needs.
There are national models of collaboration that have been implemented including a decades old partnership between Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) and at the University of Maryland, who extensively studied merger, and chose collaboration.
Q: Does MUSC have a recommended alternative to a merger?
A: MUSC has suggested alternatives to the merger legislation and has communicated such to the College of Charleston, Legislators, the Chamber of Commerce, and other business and community leaders.
Q: How do I contact my state Legislators if I wish to express my opinion about the merger legislation?
A: If you choose to contact your state Legislators to express your opinion, whether it be for or against a merger, please ensure that you do so as a private citizen, not as an employee of MUSC. Please use your personal stationery and/or email address. You can find your state Legislators at this site: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/legislatorssearch.php
Your South Carolina State Senator and your South Carolina State Representative are the individuals to whom your correspondence should be sent.