Monday, February 18News That Matters

Payback provision part of UI's deal with Carle Illinois medical school – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

URBANA — A new document outlining the University of Illinois’ promise to cover fundraising shortfalls at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine calls for providing up to $31.4 million through 2025 if needed, but there’s a payback provision as donations ramp up.

The campus has already agreed to pay the college almost $20 million of that total over the next few years to renovate the Medical Sciences Building and pay for library acquisitions and staffing.

The medical school’s financial situation will be revisited in fiscal 2023 to see if more campus support is needed based on its fundraising picture, UI officials said Friday.

The UI released the “Supplemental Support Funding Plan Commitment” to The News-Gazette this week. While the general parameters were already public, the document provides additional details.

The commitment essentially redefines the financial support that the campus agreed to provide for the college’s first 10 years as part of its accreditation plan, approved by the national Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The money is no longer simply fundraising income but “supplemental support.”

The original financial plan called for the medical school’s operating and capital expenses to be covered by three sources of income — Carle Health System, student tuition revenue, and money from a college endowment funded with private gifts. That endowment was supposed to generate income of $31.4 million from 2016 through 2025.

But UI officials said last spring that fundraising was behind schedule, and the new document says it’s “unlikely” that the endowment will provide the full $31.4 million. The campus agreed to cover the shortfall, using money from a discretionary fund controlled by the chancellor for academic priorities.

The campus last year provided $14.98 million to renovate the Medical Sciences Building, an expense the medical school had originally planned to cover. And the $4.91 million for the medical school’s library will be spread out over the next seven years.

“These were investments that needed to be made up front,” said Paul Ellinger, associate chancellor and vice provost for budget and resource planning.

Combined, those contributions will cover the endowment income promised in the accreditation plan through fiscal 2022, Ellinger said.

If the medical school still has an operating deficit at that point, he said, the campus will dip into its discretionary fund again to provide additional money in fiscal 2023, 2024 and 2025, he said.

“We will take a look at the resources we have through fundraising and how that compares to our budget,” he said. “If the fundraising exceeds our plans, there will be an opportunity to basically provide funding back to the campus.”

“The expectation as it’s currently written is that they would pay it all back,” added Vicki Gress, executive associate provost for budget and resource planning.

The supplemental plan has been shared with Carle and the accrediting agency, Ellinger said.

The campus financial support is “not unprecedented,” Ellinger said, as it has provided similar funding for major projects at other UI colleges. The new engineering-based medical school, however, was intended to be privately funded.

“Obviously, this is a high priority for this campus and this university,” Ellinger said.

The medical school has hired a new fundraiser, Jessica Breitbarth, who will earn $175,000 a year as associate dean for advancement.

The campus also pitched in $363,000 this year to help cover the 32 full-tuition scholarships awarded to the medical school’s first class, though that wasn’t mentioned in the new document. That money also came from the chancellor’s discretionary fund, which does not include any tuition income or state funding.

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