East Carolina chancellor says medical school threatened



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GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The chancellor of East Carolina University says the medical school in Greenville could close in five years unless its financial losses are reduced.

Chancellor Steve Ballard told WNCT-TV (http://bit.ly/1I9ghv9) that the Brody School of Medicine is in serious financial trouble after millions of dollars in losses in recent years.

Ballard says the medical school lost $14 million last year, in large part because of state restrictions on how they can receive federal money and the inability to collect debts.

"We can't stay accredited if we have three more years of $14 million lost. We'll be closed," Ballard said.

To remain accredited, Brody must keep 90 days cash in reserve, which amounts to about $40 million. The school has only about $32 million on hand at the moment.

Ballard says since the Great Recession, East Carolina has lost about $100 million because of state budget cuts. Ballard says the state funded 53 percent of the medical school's operating budget in 1990. Now, it provides only 21 percent of the operating budget.

The dean of the school, Dr. Paul Cunningham, says officials are working to show state lawmakers the school's uniqueness.

One fourth of the doctors in the eastern part of the state are 65 or older. Cunningham says the Brody plays a critically important role in replacing those physicians as they retire.

He also said students at Brody graduate with less debt than doctors at other schools. The average debt in Greenville is just over $100,000, compared with the national average of about $170,000.

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Information from: WNCT-TV, http://www.wnct.com

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The Associated Press

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