UC Riverside's long-held dream to have a full medical school was badly battered last year when the state refused to pay for it and then national accreditors wouldn't allow it to open. Those denials were a blow to the UC system's proud tradition of adding campuses and programs to serve a growing state.
Now, UC Riverside is making what national experts say is a rare second attempt to gain approval for a medical school. Campus officials say they have obtained alternative financial backing, worth about $10 million a year for a decade, from private donors, local government and the UC system in hopes that the medical school can enroll its first 50 students in fall 2013.
"We have so much riding on the school being successful, we just can't accept that it can't be done," said G. Richard Olds, a tropical-disease expert who is the founding dean of the UC Riverside medical school. The goal, he said, is to ease the shortage of doctors in the Inland Empire.
The medical school would be UC's sixth and its first to open since the late 1960s. The school would be the only one in UC without its own hospital, vastly cutting down on costs. UC's medical centers and its health education programs constitute about half of the system's $22-billion annual budget.