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EVMS celebrates merging with Old Dominion

EVMS and Old Dominion University celebrate the merger of the two schools.
Photo by Steve Walsh
EVMS and Old Dominion University celebrate the merger of the two schools.

The integration of two schools forms the largest academic health center in Virginia.

A ceremony Friday at the Hilton marked the end of four years of serious discussions to integrate one of the last independent medical schools in the country with Old Dominion University.

“This is a transformational merger, because this would allow us to really focus on expanding our classrooms to meet the incredible demands that we see in the future,” said Eastern Virginia Medical School President Alfred Abuhamad.

The idea had been discussed for at least 20 years. This time, both state government and Sentara Health were willing to spend millions to create the combined school.

“This is also about health disparities,” said Brian Hemphill, president of ODU. “We know that we lead the Commonwealth in a number of areas. So this was an initiative to see how we could lean in together to address these concerns.”

The new entity begins with a major scholarship endowment from two families.

The integrated school will be named the Macon and Joan Brock Virginia Health Sciences at Old Dominion. The College of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing will be named after the Ellmer Family. Each family donated $20 million for scholarships for students, most from underserved communities.

Together, the two schools have roughly 5,000 students studying medicine. The plan is to grow the number of health professionals trained in Hampton Roads.

Scholarship students will commit to practicing in the area for at least three years.

“We know that demands in the community are incredible, at every level - at physician, physicians’ assistant, nurses -so we have plans to expand,” Abuhamad said. “Some programs are easier to expand because of their accrediting bodies than others. So we're working collectively to meet those demands over the next few years.”

The integration is effective on July 1. The combined school will have 56 academic programs, making it the largest academic health sciences center in Virginia.

Steve joined WHRO in 2023 to cover military and veterans. Steve has extensive experience covering the military and working in public media, most recently at KPBS in San Diego, WYIN in Gary, Indiana and WBEZ in Chicago. In the early 2000s, he embedded with members of the Indiana National Guard in Kuwait and Iraq. Steve reports for NPR’s American Homefront Project, a national public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Steve is also on the board of Military Reporters & Editors.

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