|MUSC family works together toward future
Jan. 19, we celebrated the official holiday marking the birth of the
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The following day, we paused to honor the
inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United
States. These two events, occurring in such close proximity,
bring to mind Dr. King’s dream that future generations would “not be
judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their
Today, as we struggle with great financial challenges, we may draw
further inspiration from another one of Dr. King’s speeches, in which
he said, “The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land.
Confusion is all around . . . but I know somehow, that only when it is
dark enough, you can see the stars.” Here at the medical
university, looking into the night sky of our budget challenges, we are
beginning to see some of those stars. I am pleased to share with you an
update on our situation.
Last week, the state’s Board of Economic Advisors updated their revenue
projections for the state and concluded that things were relatively
stable since their December estimates. Key pieces of information, such
as sales tax collections through the holiday season and corporate tax
collections will not be available until February, so some caution is
warranted. In the meantime, we have asked the individual
financial teams within the medical university to prepare contingency
plans for further budget cuts, hoping that these plans will not have to
be implemented this year.
We continue to explore ways in which we can operate more efficiently.
These evaluations are far-reaching, covering the spectrum from basic
business practices to the organization of our academic programs. For
example, the College of Medicine has a retreat scheduled at the end of
the month to review possible efficiencies in their structure and
operations. The College of Nursing held a faculty retreat already in
which important decisions were made about focusing their educational
efforts. These and other discussions across campus will help to
set future priorities.
Equally important, we have launched discussions with other institutions
to explore how we might partner together to find savings. A series of
four working groups has been created with representatives from MUSC,
the College of Charleston and The Citadel to develop proposals for
sharing of infrastructure. We are beginning separate discussions
with our colleagues at Clemson and the University of South Carolina to
investigate whether we can find efficiencies with them.
On the revenue front, we are exploring opportunities at both the state
and federal levels. The U. S. Congress is considering stimulus
legislation that could have a significant impact on MUSC, including
increasing money for the Medicaid program, and increasing the budget
for the National Institutes of Health and other federal research
agencies. We may also benefit from new resources for clinical
At the state level, perhaps the greatest opportunity in the new
legislative session will be an increase in the cigarette tax. Several
proposals are being developed and there is optimism that one will pass
this year. Possible funding opportunities include Medicaid support, as
well as support for training and research into smoking-related
In sum, the medical university is continuing to work on many fronts to
address our financial challenges. There can be no more urgent
call to this task than Dr. King’s belief that, “Life’s most
persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for
others?” Here at the medical university, thousands of people are
brought together by the shared goal of helping others and that mission
will not be compromised as we move forward.
Thank you for all that you do to serve South Carolina.
Friday, Jan. 16, 2009