Presidents Announce VCU - W&M Health Policy and Law Initiative

VCU Media Contact: Pamela DiSalvo Lepley, (804)828-6057,
W&M Media Contact: Brian Whitson, (757) 221-7876,

The presidents of the College of William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University announced on May 15 a signature collaboration to address one of the most difficult issues facing U.S. communities today - health policy

The VCU - William & Mary Health Policy and Law Initiative will bring together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines from the two institutions to conduct research, provide public service and offer joint degree programs that focus on solving topical problems in health policy, law and bioethics.


(l-r)Professor Larry I. Palmer, director of the Health Policy and Law Initiative, Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder, VCU President Eugene Trani and interim William & Mary President Taylor Reveley at the May 15 announcement.

"This is a new form of inter-institutional collaboration in Virginia," said VCU President Eugene P. Trani. "As public institutions of higher education, we are pooling the resources of two major universities to leverage our strengths in public policy, health and law to help solve a major problem."


Faculty and students from VCU's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, the VCU School of Medicine and the William & Mary Law School will work together in the initiative, the ultimate goal of which is to establish a Center for Health Policy and Law.

"Our two institutions recognized that the most meaningful way to address health care issues was to bring together our expertise in law, health and public policy," said William & Mary Interim President, W. Taylor Reveley III. "In particular, we want to increase the understanding of the role that the law plays in the complex process of health policy development."

The Health Policy and Law Initiative will be directed by Larry I. Palmer, who spent 27 years at Cornell University, where he served as law professor, vice president and vice provost. Palmer most recently was the endowed chair in policy development on urban health issues at the University of Louisville. He has joint appointments as professor of law at William & Mary, as professor in VCU's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, and in the Department of Social and Behavioral Health in the VCU School of Medicine.

"The initiative will act as both catalyst and facilitator, serving as a vehicle for multiple activities surrounding health policy and law," Palmer said.

The initiative's first service - learning project is a Veterans Disability Clinic, a pilot program set to launch in January 2009, that will involve William & Mary law students helping veterans with disability claims and other legal matters, while students from the VCU Department of Psychology will provide counseling, assessments and referrals to community agencies and medical providers.

Palmer said the veterans' clinic is just one example of the kind of programs that will emanate from the initiative. He said the initiative also will act as a strategic partner for other centers at the universities, such as VCU's Centers for Health Disparities and Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, and William & Mary's Schroeder Center for Healthcare Policy.

"As someone who has been involved in public policy on national and local levels, this is the kind of resourcefulness and responsiveness we need and expect from our public universities," said L. Douglas Wilder, Richmond mayor and former governor of Virginia. "We anticipate that this initiative will produce creative and doable solutions to some of the most difficult health care and law problems we face, especially in urban areas."

The initiative will be housed at the Theater Row Building in downtown Richmond close to VCU's medical campus and at the Law School at William & Mary.