July 16, 2008

Med College Administration Office to Open

By Ron Bartizek, The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Jul. 16--WILKES-BARRE -- The Commonwealth Medical College will move closer to reality Thursday -- and a stride southward -- when it opens an administrative office in the Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald building at 15 S. Franklin St.

The opening also will be a step toward fulfilling commitments college officials made to serve the entire Northeastern Pennsylvania region and to focus on community health. For now it will be a base from which to attract students and faculty while plans are developed for a campus that will include medical training and education.

President and Dean Robert D'Alessandri said a local coordinator will be based in the office, as well as quarters for Associate Dean Dr. Richard English. With the first class expected to begin studies in little more than a year, the Wilkes-Barre office will be used for recruiting and organizational activities in Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Sullivan and Carbon counties.

The fifth-floor space also will become a convenient base for students charged with following a family throughout the students' training.

"They'll be in the area, they'll be working with families right from the beginning," D'Alessandri said. "That's why it's important for us to develop these campuses now."

The initial class is projected at 60 students, with about 20 assigned to families in the Wilkes-Barre region.

The office is a temporary step, D'Alessandri said. "Where we locate eventually will be close to a clinical site," such as a hospital, a move that would be necessary when students are ready for specialized training, probably in three years.

Unlike most medical schools, the Commonwealth Medical College is not affiliated with another academic institution. Instead, D'Alessandri is working to establish relationships with existing colleges and universities in the region.

The college has received degree-granting authority from the state Department of Education and is in the process of seeking preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. D'Alessandri expects a decision by October.

"Once we hear from them we'll go forward and start recruiting students for 2009," he said.

The first two years are mostly basic science and classroom work, D'Alessandri said. Classrooms will be in a 185,000-square-foot, $120 million basic science campus off Pine Street in Scranton.


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