Academic health centers (AHCs) have been under siege for the past few years, with decreased federal and state funding for educational and research programs and increasing competition in the health care marketplace. In addition, many AHCs are burdened with the bureaucratic red tape of large educational institution, which makes agility in responding to a demanding health care market difficult. The authors describe the response to these threats by Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), an approach that has been different from those of most similar institutions. OHSU chose to change its structure from being part of the state system of higher education to being an independent public corporation. The authors outline the political process of building widespread support for the legislation passed in 1995, the key features of the restructuring, the challenges faced before and after the transition to a public corporation, and lessons learned in this metamorphosis to a new form.
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