Liberty University moved one step closer to establishing its own medical school on Thursday when a subcommittee of the Virginia Tobacco Commission recommended approval of a $12 million grant.
Liberty would match the grant under the terms of the agreement while establishing a school of osteopathic medicine and an expanded health sciences school.
The proposal was unanimously approved by the special projects committee at a meeting in Roanoke. The subcommittee approval is the first part of the approval process. The full commission will make a final decision by the end of September.
If the grant is approved, the new schools could open by fall 2013.
The new facilities would cost nearly $40 million and would be located in Campbell County near the intersection of US-460 and US-29 near the Lynchburg Airport.
Campbell County qualifies for tobacco indemnification money.
Liberty’s President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said the program could provide hundreds of jobs to economically depressed Southside Virginia communities.
Falwell said Liberty medical students would use their required Christian and Community Service (CSER) hours to assist Southside residents in need of healthcare.
“Our students are already mission-minded. A lot of them go into medical missions already, so this gives them a golden opportunity to carry out those missions in our own backyard and to help the community,” he said.
Liberty would offer students of the new schools who live in areas which qualify for tobacco indemnification a five percent tuition discount as part of its agreement with the tobacco commission.
The new school would train doctors of osteopathic medicine, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants. It would also offer a variety of associate degrees in the medical field.
Liberty’s grant would be the second largest grant ever authorized to a medical school by the commission.