NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia General Assembly has taken a major step toward joining two area universities together.

On Thursday, lawmakers allocated funds to support the integration of Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical School in its amended budget approved by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

“We could not be more pleased with this most recent development and continued progress. We are especially grateful to Chairman Barry Knight and Sen. Louise Lucas for their advocacy and leadership throughout this process, as well as the support of all members of the General Assembly,” said ODU president Brian Hemphill in a statement. “In addition to the outpouring of legislative support, we are extremely thankful for the efforts of Gov. Glenn Youngkin and his team, including Secretary of Finance Steve Cummings, who have provided ongoing support and guidance throughout the process.”

The move would create the most comprehensive health sciences center in the Commonwealth. 

“EVMS is one of the few remaining standalone medical schools in the country and we are excited by the opportunity to expand our available resources, expertise and community reach so that we can continue to innovate and lead the way in medical and health instruction,” said EVMS president Alfred Abuhamad. “I’m confident that the General Assembly and Gov. Youngkin’s decision prioritizes the long-term interests of our institution and its students, faculty, staff and community.”  

A merger between ODU and EVMS would include a school of medicine, school of health professions, college of health sciences and school of nursing. Additionally, O.N.E. School of Public Health, a joint initiative among ODU, Norfolk State University and EVMS would also become part of the integrated institution.