Oxley Foundation's $30 Million Gift To Fund Tulsa School Of Community Medicine

Richard Clark, News on 6

The Oxley Foundation is donating $30 million for the proposed Tulsa School of Community Medicine.

The school will be a joint project of the University of Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

According to a new release from the two universities, they're creating the four-year community medical education program in response to "Oklahoma's low health status, low health systems performance and physician shortage."

The universities say the Oxley Foundation will provide a $15 million grant to provide start-up funding for personnel and operating expenses for the planned Tulsa School of Community Medicine.

The Foundation has pledged another $15 million grant as a challenge to other contributors to the future Tulsa School of Community Medicine endowment. The match portion of The Oxley Foundation gift will be given to support the Tulsa School of Community Medicine on or before December 31, 2016.

"This is the largest commitment we have ever undertaken," said R.H. Harbaugh, trustee of The Oxley Foundation. "The future Tulsa School of Community Medicine, and the partnership from which it was born, will make our community healthier, stronger, and a more attractive place for medical professionals to learn and live. This is a historic day for all Tulsans, and we are so pleased to be a part of it."

The the school will harness TU's expertise with science education and research programs as well as OU's medical training program that's focused on residency training and the third and fourth years of clinical medical student education.

According to the news release, the proposed new Tulsa School of Community Medicine will allow medical students to complete all four years in Tulsa, with the first class expected to start in the fall of 2015.

The universities say a steering committee has been working since 2009 to create the infrastructure for the school, with subcommittees working on recruitment, admissions, curriculum, student support, services, faculty development, facilities and accreditation.

12/1/2009: Related Story: OU/TU Partner To Create Joint Medical School In Tulsa

The planned home for the school is the Hartford Building at 111 S. Greenwood Avenue, which TU purchased earlier this year.

"Our vision is a shared vision for a better Tulsa. We are incredibly honored that The Oxley Foundation has partnered with TU and OU in such a profound way," said Steadman Upham, president of The University of Tulsa.

The universities say the program will build upon the concept of a School of Community Medicine, which was established at OU-Tulsa in February 2008 with a $50 million dollar gift from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

"We are deeply grateful to the Oxley family for making this gift and for their strong desire to provide medical care for undeserved areas in Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma," said OU President David L. Boren.

The two universities teamed up five years ago to offer a Master of Health Sciences in Physician Assistant Studies through the OU School of Community Medicine. Physician assistants are health care professionals authorized to practice under the supervision of licensed physicians, and the field is one of the fastest growing professions in the country.