- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A capital improvement plan that won approval by a Senate committee doesn’t include funding for a University of Kansas building that university officials said is critical to keeping the medical school’s accreditation.

“I just implore you to please consider this initiative,” Dr. Doug Girod, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center, told the SenateWays and Means Committee on Tuesday.

The university is seeking two major funding sources it says are necessary to start construction of an estimated $75 million to $80 million health education building, but the committee approved a budget that does not include them, The Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/1lVA0Cl) reported.

The medical school’s accreditation body, called the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, recently cited an area of noncompliance because of the school’s facilities, Girod told the Ways and Means Committee.

The main medical education building was constructed in the 1970s and can’t accommodate the modern style of physician training that focuses on small groups and simulations of procedures, he said. Unless that is addressed now, he said, “we are going to be in a major crisis a decade from now.”

Committee Chairman Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said after the meeting that he doesn’t believe the medical school’s accreditation is in jeopardy.

“If it were, we would reconsider what we needed to reconsider,” he said, adding that the university has enough resources to address the accreditation issue.

“It’s just prioritization. If they want to prioritize the accreditation as a project they have the resources to do that,” he said.

The university has asked the Legislature to release a $25 million FICA refund linked to the medical center and provide $1.4 million per year to help retire $15 million in bonds. The rest of the money needed for the building would be paid with private donations and internal funds, the university said.

The building could be constructed in two years, Girod said. He warned that a loss of accreditation would mean the end of the medical school.

Earlier this week, a Senate budget subcommittee deleted $2 million for a proposed institute at the university to develop new technologies and drugs in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com