Harvard community debates idea of selling medical school's naming rights: 5 things to know

The question of whether Harvard Medical School in Boston should be renamed in return for a significant financial gift, possibly as high as $1 billion, is being pondered among members of the Harvard community, according to a report from STAT.

Here are five things to know about the issue.

1. Faculty members have been discussing the idea of selling the naming rights for the medical school to the highest bidder, according to Dr. John Rowe, chair of the board of fellows that advises the medical school.

2. Some in the Harvard community have expressed enthusiasm about the idea, while others are more apprehensive. According to the report, supporters deem the idea a good way to move medical research forward and pay off annual deficits at the medical school, but others are reluctant about tampering with the Harvard Med brand by selling it.

3. In the end, the decision to rename any Harvard school is up to President Drew Gilpin Faust and the Harvard Corp., according to STAT. Ms. Faust's office declined to disclose to STAT whether it would consider selling the naming rights to the highest bidder.

4. If Harvard did rename its medical school, it wouldn't be the first time Harvard has sold naming rights. Harvard renamed its public health school last year in return for a $350 million gift, followed by the engineering school for $400 million, according to the report.

5. Jay Loeffler, MD, a professor at Harvard Medical School who published two articles on the subject, told STAT the number of medical schools named after donors has increased from 15 to at least 26 in the past seven years. Examples in the last decade include Perelman School of Medicine at UPenn in Philadelphia, Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.


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