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A National Study of Governance Structures For Academic Medical Centers


The Center for Mississippi Health Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization that provides information to support health policy decisions in the state.


To partner with the Center for Mississippi Health Policy in providing Mississippi policymakers with information on Academic Health Center (AHC) governance models and best practices, relating to the current and future governance of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Like its peers nationally, UMMC is challenged to adapt rapidly to the dynamic healthcare environment while advancing its mission in education, research, and patient care. Effective governance will be critical to facilitating organizational success.

The Center for Mississippi Health Policy commissioned Veralon to complete a national study on governance structures for academic health centers, identify the advantages and disadvantages of each model, review national best practices across all governance models employed, and determine how these best practices could be applied to UMMC.


Veralon completed a comprehensive literature review of governance models in state-sponsored universities with medical schools in all 50 states. We researched nationwide best practices related to academic health center governance, both through the literature and through interviews with AHC leadership nationally.

Concurrently, we interviewed representatives from relevant stakeholder groups within UMMC’s governance structure and reviewed its policies and practices. This provided a national context on state-sponsored university and academic medical center governance.

We applied these findings to UMMC, comparing the current UMMC governance structure with national best practices, and noted the degree to which UMMC was aligned with each practice.

Based on these results, Veralon identified four potential governance options that would better align UMMC governance with national best practices, ranging from an option requiring minimal legislative changes to one requiring significant change. We provided examples of each model, and described the advantages and disadvantages of each model as applied to UMMC.

Our findings were further reviewed by key stakeholders and policy experts to determine Mississippi state policy and statutory changes associated with implementation of the various governance options.

Finally, we identified other important considerations policymakers should take into account when making decisions regarding governance structures, including qualifications of governing board members, appointment processes, board duties, and funding mechanisms.


We determined that there was significant opportunity for AHC governance in Mississippi to achieve national best practices; some could be achieved without policy changes, while others would require significant changes to state policy. Key considerations for policymakers included the need to balance short-term risks with long-term gains, cost and implementation of each option, and degree of cultural change needed to sustain any change.

Our analysis served as an unbiased, independent review and provided the public, including legislators, with key information to make the most informed policy decisions regarding AHC governance in Mississippi.