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School of Medicine gets second Deal of the Year honor

by Cheryl Roland

Oct. 28, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--For the second consecutive year, a private medical school initiative that leverages the resources of Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo's two major hospitals has been singled out by Business Review West Michigan as the educational arena's Deal of the Year.

The annual awards program, now in its sixth year, was designed by the business publication to honor the year's most significant business transactions in West Michigan. The publication's staff members look at every major industry and "call out the transactions that had or will have the greatest economic impact on West Michigan." The launch of the WMU medical school initiative was the winner last year in the higher education category.

This year, Deal of the Year winners were selected from among 22 finalists in six categories. Earlier this fall, WMU's medical school initiative was named as a 2011 finalist in the higher education category and singled out for its March announcement of a $100 million foundational gift for the medical school from anonymous donors.

The winning organizations in all six categories were announced during an Oct. 26 awards reception at the Grand Rapids J.W. Marriott. Business and community leaders from around the region gathered to hear the names of the winners. WMU President John M. Dunn and Dr. Hal B. Jenson, founding dean of the School of Medicine, were on hand to accept the award on behalf of the University and its community partners in the initiative--Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare.

Other finalists in the 2011 higher education category were: Grand Valley State University's Seidman College of Business for creating a full-time MBA program and launching construction of its new Seidman School home; Davenport University's return to downtown Grand Rapids with a graduate center; and Grand Rapids Community College's announcement of a $20 million, 20-year deal to train workers at the LG Chem battery plant in Holland, Mich.

The WMU School of Medicine is a partnership involving the University and Kalamazoo's two teaching hospitals, Borgess and Bronson. It has been in planning for three years, and fundraising, accreditation work and curriculum development for the school are well under way. Expected to welcome its first class in fall 2014, the school is a privately funded initiative housed at WMU, which is one of the nation's 139 Carnegie-designated public research universities--one of only five such universities in Michigan.