Displaced because of damage from Hurricane Maria, more than 1,400 faculty, students and staff from a Caribbean medical school are planning to temporarily relocate this winter to Knoxville, Tenn.
Ross University School of Medicine, based in Dominica, says in a news release that it will relocate to facilities owned by Lincoln Memorial University (LMU). The Harrogate, Tenn.-based university has operations in Knoxville and will provide the necessary operational capacity and the technical capabilities to support medical school faculty, students and staff.
"While the island of Dominica continues to rebuild, we are pleased to have forged this arrangement with an outstanding university like LMU,” says William F. Owen, dean and chancellor of the medical school. “The continuity of our students’ education and their academic programming is our highest priority, and we are pleased to work with LMU to make these extraordinary facilities available.”
Since the hurricane hit Dominica, fall courses for students at Ross University School of Medicine are being held on a cruise ship docked off the island of St. Kitts.
The medical school plans to continue to use its own medical sciences curriculum and faculty while making use of the LMU teaching and office facilities, including an anatomy lab. Efforts are underway by Ross University and Adtalem Global Education to acquire all necessary regulatory approvals and finalize other details.
“Lincoln Memorial University is proud to be able to assist Ross University School of Medicine under these extreme circumstances," says saidLMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk. "As an institution with a strong commitment to combating health care shortages in Appalachia and beyond, there is a synergy in providing the students and faculty of RUSM a home away from home while they rebuild from this fall’s devastating hurricanes.
"Our recent purchase of the spacious west Knoxville property enables us to step up to help RUSM. Over the next year, LMU will continue to develop its plans to further expand its health offerings in Knoxville. In the meantime, we’re pleased to accommodate RUSM with an excellent facility that is well-suited in size and scale to meet the needs of a medical school curriculum.”
Lincoln Memorial University operates three extended learning sites in the greater Knoxville area including the LMU-Duncan School of Law, nursing at Physicians Regional Medical Center and business, education and nursing at the LMU Cedar Bluff Extended Learning Site.
In 2016-2017, 97 percent of the university's students were from the United States and Canada, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Many of its buildings remain intact, but the campus sustained significant damage during the hurricane in mid-September. A real estate team is working to assess damage and make repairs.
The Category 5 storm is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica, a island nation of about 71,000 people.