While a long-discussed move to Royal Oak is on hold for the Oakland University-William Beaumont School of Medicine, the two partners have extended their medical school contract by 20 years to 2041.
Opened in 2011 for its inaugural class of 50 students, the OU-William Beaumont medical school in Rochester was first announced in 2007 as a effort to keep more doctors in Michigan to address a looming physician shortage and expand research opportunities for practicing doctors.
“The 20-year extension reaffirms that Oakland University and William Beaumont Hospital are deeply committed to providing a premier educational environment for developing OUWB medical students into compassionate, ethical, and highly skilled physicians,” said Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, president of Oakland University, in a statement this week.
Over the past nine years, OUWB has graduated 548 physicians with about 500 students enrolled. Students train at Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe.
Last June, Beaumont Health CEO John Fox touted a move of the medical school from OU’s Rochester campus to the Beaumont’s 1,100-bed flagship hospital in Royal Oak as a major benefit to a proposed merger with Illinois-based Advocate Aurora Health.
The merger with Advocate Aurora was scuttled by both sides in October. Fox attributed the mutual decision to end more than four months of negotiations to the fact that the two systems and other interested parties could not meet in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beaumont also discovered deep opposition to the deal by some donors, board members, physicians and nurses.
But Fox was on record as saying physicians have been clamoring to move the medical school to Royal Oak.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time and this transaction we think would enable that to finally happen,” Fox said in June.
Plans were even in place to demolish one of Beaumont’s older buildings to make space for the new OUWB medical school at 13 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak.
In a statement Thursday, Fox said the intent still is to move the OUWB medical school to Royal Oak.
“We have stated for several years that it is our goal to find a way to relocate the medical school to the Royal Oak campus,” he said. “We will continue to explore ways to make this happen, but we currently have no timeline or specific plans in place. Any relocation of the medical school would be a mutual decision of both Beaumont and Oakland University.”
At the time of the merger announcement, Pescovitz also issued a statement about the proposed move. An OU spokesperson said Friday the university stands with her comment.
“Moving the medical school to the hospital campus could potentially benefit our students and staff in many ways,” Pescovitz said in June. “There are no firm commitments at this time, but we remain interested in exploring the idea with Beaumont.”