Thursday, October 23, 2008

How Much Is The University Of Minnesota

Medical School Name Worth?

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. (Proverbs 22:1)

A good name is better than precious ointment. (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

[But one hundred and fifty million dollars? Deal!]

From the latest Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):

Selling a Medical School's Name

Ethical and Practical Dilemmas

JAMA. 2008;300(16):1937-1938.

There is an increasing trend in the United States to attribute names to medical schools in addition to that of the host university. For example, a recent news report stated the following:

Pressed to find new sources of cash, the University of Minnesota Medical School leaders are interested in selling the school's name in return for a big-time donation—as much as $150 million. . . . Would the University sell the medical school name to a drug company in return for a big donation? Would Minnesotans object to removing "Minnesota" from the school's name in exchange for cash? It is not clear.

(I thank a colleague at another institution for pointing out this latest mention of the name of the University of Minnesota Medical School in JAMA.)

The JAMA article is now making the rounds with reactions such as the following:

Medical schools, like sports arenas, are no strangers to branding. But is it a good idea?

Dr. Jay S. Loeffler of Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Edward C. Halperin of the University of Louisville School of Medicine pose the question in a Journal of the American Medical Association commentary, prompted by reports that the University of Minnesota is seeking as much as $150 million in exchange for naming rights.

Not so at the University of Iowa, whose faculty rejected a $15 million gift from the Wellmark Corporation rather than rename its School of Public Health after the insurance company.

"There is an intrinsic risk involved for the schools in the future if the donors or foundations are discovered to be involved in activities deemed unsavory or illegal," the authors write. "It is not unreasonable to think that some US medical schools are currently named after someone who will be found, in the future, to have been involved in less-than-respectable activities."

Hmm... Maybe like the McGuire Translational Research Building?

(See a previous post - Greed is Good)

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