WACO (January 21, 2010)—As opposition mounts in Houston to the possible reaffiliation of Baylor University of Waco and the Baylor College of Medicine, interim Baylor President Dr. David Garland, in a letter Thursday to faculty and staff, said the university is not discussing a merger and that it won’t pursue an agreement that “would put our campus at undue risk”
“What is presently being discussed is a strengthened affiliation between the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor University, Garland said in the letter.
“Baylor University and the Baylor College of Medicine are not discussing a merger,” he said.
At the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which confirmed Tuesday that it was in talks with Baylor, an online petition that says the mission of the Baptist university is “incongruous” with the medical school’s had been signed by about 400 people by Tuesday night.
Opponents said religious ideologies that permeate Baylor’s academic policies could be detrimental to scientific progress and the medical school’s culture.
Baylor College of Medicine interim President Dr. William Butler sent a campus e-mail Tuesday morning in which he used essentially the same words as Garland when he said what the two institutions are seeking is “a strengthening of our longstanding affiliation.”
“There are some who do not fully understand who and what we are,’ Garland said in the letter Thursday.
“As word of our conversations with BCM and TCH has spread, a variety of the misperceptions about Baylor University have been reported in the news media. There also have been misstatements about our history and current relationship with the Baylor College of Medicine.
“We are working with colleagues at BCM and TCH to ensure that accurate information is conveyed within their respective communities,” he said.
A source confirmed to News 10 on Jan. 12 that after 15 months of negotiation, the medical school and Rice University had ended talks about a merger and that Baylor, which effectively ended its partnership with the medical school in 1969, was poised to forge a new affiliation with the 110-year-old college.
The source, who requested anonymity, told News 10 an announcement could be made by the end of the month.
A new affiliation with the medical school could enhance Baylor’s efforts to meet the goal of being a top tier university by 2012, and economist Ray Perryman said Tuesday the merger would also benefit the local economy through joint research programs and collaborations between the two campuses.
The medical school, which originally opened its doors at the University of Dallas Medical Department in 1900, affiliated with Baylor in 1903 and became the Baylor University College of Medicine.
By 1918 it was the only private medical school in the state.
It moved to Houston to join the newly created Texas Medical Center in 1943 at the invitation of the M.D. Anderson Foundation and four years later moved into the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building, which it occupies today.
Baylor and the medical school agreed to end their affiliation in 1969, which opened the door for access to more federal research funding.
The school has been known since the Baylor College of Medicine and for the last 40 years Baylor University has appointed 25 percent of the members of its board.