According to reporters Billy Gunn and Karina Vailes of The Town Talk, Louisiana College, the small Southern Baptist institution in Pineville, Louisiana, apparently considered asking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Kuwait for $70 million, $35 million per country, in order to help fund the creation of the George H.W. Bush School of Medicine.
A draft proposal for the Louisiana College medical school indicates that the private Baptist college was looking at funding from two Middle East countries and naming it after a former president, but officials said Friday that proposal never was pursued.
The document, which was posted on the Save Our LC Internet message board, says the medical school would be “A Public/Private International Model of (the) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, State of Kuwait, State of Louisiana & Louisiana College.”
Funding from the two Arab countries, the document said, would amount to $70 million.
The document, which LC officials said was stolen by someone and put on the website, states that the school would be named after former President George Herbert Walker Bush, who in 2006 spoke at the school. Bush was paid $100,000 through private donations to speak at LC’s 100-year anniversary celebration, where he was presented with an honorary doctorate.
To be sure, although the leaked document states that LC officials had “reserved” the right to name the school after the former President, LC officials claimed President Bush was never informed about their intentions.
Weird. The whole thing is just weird. Continuing from The Town Talk:
Umbach (LC’s consultant) explained that the origins of the Saudi Arabia/Kuwait draft proposal began after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and the Gulf Coast in August 2005. Then, the Kuwait government made a contribution to the state of Louisiana for relief efforts.
When LC school officials became aware that there may be some additional unspent funds, “it all began with the quest to see if some of those funds might be available for a medical school, because a percentage of the relief was suppose to go to Central and Northern Louisiana hurricane safe zones,” Umbach said.
“I honestly think that became a dead end,” said Umbach, whose firm specializes in economic research and analysis. “Apparently those funds were no longer available. We don’t know even how to apply, and that’s where the process kind of started, and where it ended was the ability for us to find other funding a lot closer, and that’s what we are pursuing to get the medical school off the ground.”
Don’t get me wrong here: It’d be awesome if Central Louisiana landed a medical school. No one’s against that. But really? I mean, really? We’re supposed to believe the entire pursuit was because Kuwait pledged $500 million to assist in Katrina relief? It seems a little far-fetched. Plus, it doesn’t account for the proposed $35 million ask to Saudi Arabia. Or the presence of the former President in this whole thing.