Just a few years after its effort to create a School of Law was rejected, the University of California,Riverside’s (UCR) attempt to open a School of Medicine was floundering amid the severe state budget crisis of 2007. Community support for the project was waning and elected officials who once championed the project had fallen silent. At the same time, other programs at the university were facing criticism from local community groups that looked to potentially discredit UCR’s plan for the first new public medical school in California in over 40 years. UCR leadership contacted OPR Communications (OPR) to quickly rescue the project and reinvigorate regional support for the new medical school proposal. The campaign targeted a pivotal vote by the UC Board of Regents on whether to approve the UCR School of Medicine.
In addition to message development, planning and strategy, OPR helped design UCR’s presentation to the Board of Regents, and organized speakers to attend the hearing and speak to the merits of the medical school. OPR developed a communications platform built around two primary messages that underscored the need and benefits that the UCR School of Medicine would provide:
After a very well-received outreach effort, the community, elected officials and opinion leaders from across the region rallied to the project, providing private funding and voicing public support for its critical need in the region. Ultimately, following a comprehensive presentation by UCR officials and impassioned community leaders, the University of California, Board of Regents unanimously approved UCR’s School of Medicine application.