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NORFOLK -- It's been more than a year since talk began of a possible merger between Eastern Virginia Medical School and the College of William and Mary. Now, a leading economist suggests EVMS would be a better fit for the school he used to president of - Old Dominion University.

ODU President Emeritus and Board of Visitors Professor of Economics James Koch made the observation during his annual State of the Region report before more than 700 people Tuesday at the Waterside Marriott hotel.

'I think in the long term, Old Dominion will turn out to be the better choice, simply because of the size of the research establishment it has, engineering, things like that. While William and Mary is an excellent institution, it does not have those things,' Koch said.

Koch added that the geographic proximity is also an important consideration when it comes to joint administrative functions.

William and Mary is 45 miles away from the downtown Norfolk campus of EVMS. ODU is about three miles away.

'If you're just down the street, those kinds of sharing can happen much more easily, so it makes better sense that way,' Koch said.

In July 2012, William and Mary and EVMS announced they were exploring the feasibility of jointly launching a School of Medicine. Separate from that effort, ODU and EVMS have been studying the possibility of founding the state's first School of Public Health.

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