EVMS, ODU merger pushed to July 2024
Merger had been set for Jan. 1, 2024
The merger of Eastern Virginia Medical School into Old Dominion University has been pushed back six months, to July 1, 2024, instead of January as originally planned, ODU President Brian O. Hemphill announced Friday during his State of the University address.
While that date still meets the deadline set by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the General Assembly — July 1, 2024 — ODU and EVMS had been aiming for January 2024. But Hemphill and EVMS President, Provost and Dean Dr. Alfred Abuhamad said there’s more work that needs to be done before EVMS is folded into ODU, though Abuhamad added that the merger is “very, very close” to being finalized.
“We have a number of subgroups that are working hard and looking at issues from IT to finance and that work will continue, but the next step is that we are going back to [the General Assembly],” Hemphill said. “There’s a little more funding that we’re going to have to receive from Richmond.”
The creation of Eastern Virginia Health Sciences Center at ODU — making EVMS into ODU’s medical school — was included in a bill sponsored by state Sen. Louise Lucas during the 2023 Virginia General Assembly. Then, in September, the General Assembly approved $14 million to support startup costs for the initial integration and launch.
Friday’s announcement wasn’t exactly a surprise. The formal announcement comes about a month after a letter written by Hemphill and Abuhamad indicating that the merger had been pushed to July 2024 was posted on an EVMS website dedicated to the merger.
“While we are confident that we will conclude these conversations soon, it is unlikely this will happen before we reach some important … accreditation approval deadlines” from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Hemphill and Abuhamad wrote. “As these important discussions continue, our functional teams and the Integration Management Offices (IMOs) continue to make substantial progress. Both institutions are fully immersed in the remaining work toward the goal of a successful integration.”
ODU and EVMS will submit the materials for accreditation in March 2024 with the expectation to receive word on approval in June, an ODU spokesperson said.
Though EVMS and ODU missed their self-imposed Jan. 1, 2024, deadline, the two institutions remain on track to meet the July 1, 2024, deadline set by Youngkin and the state legislature.
“It’s very complex to bring two large institutions together,” Abuhamad said, talking with reporters after Hemphill’s speech. “There’s a lot of things that need to get worked through prior to getting to Day One and we’re on schedule and on time to reach them.”
He said the January deadline was predicated “on us getting support, financial support and making sure that all the work is accomplished to be able to integrate.”
Hemphill and Abuhamad did not elaborate further on how much financial support is needed.
In addition to financial support, Abuhamad said Friday that the schools’ desire to integrate and the creation of a symbiotic culture between EVMS and ODU are two pieces that are necessary for a successful merger. “We feel very good about this because all these three major things that typically derail mergers are very solidly founded,” he said.
Another aspect of that success is Sentara Health, which already has an agreement with EVMS for residencies, and has “doubled down” on the merger, Hemphill said Friday.
In his speech, Hemphill said ODU, EVMS and Sentara’s leadership approved a long-term deal. “It’s a significant investment that will drive this merger and ensure we are going to be successful.”
The two schools have been working on the merger for at least two years and it’s not the first time they have worked together. They have previously entered into agreements with Sentara Health and Norfolk State University on health care collaborations.
A dozen committees are working on the integration between ODU and EVMS, some meeting as often as two or three times per week. In July 2022, ODU hired Dr. Alicia Monroe as chief integration officer and senior adviser to Hemphill.