Georgia Health Sciences Dental School Expansion-J Harold Harrison Facility

Hey Everybody….We were out at Georgia Health Sciences on Wednesday for the groundbreaking ceremonies for the J. Harold Harrison Building. There were several dignitaries on hand, including   Lt.  Governor Cagle, Dr. Azziz, Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Chancellor Hank Huckaby, and our own beloved Connie Drisko. Mrs. Harrison was so pleased to see that the ten million dollar gift that her husband bequeathed to the dental school will provide such a wonderful facility. The J. Harold Harrison Building will commemorate her husband’s love of medicine and be a tribute to his generosity for years to come. 

The article below was taken from the Georgia Health Science Magazine:

Georgia Health Sciences University will break ground for the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons building at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28 on the site adjacent to the College of Dental Medicine. Speakers will include University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank M. Huckaby and Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

“The university houses the state’s only dental college and only public medical college, with the 10th-largest first-year class size in the country, and we have to continue to expand our educational capacity,” said GHSU President Ricardo Azziz. “The addition of the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons will allow us to better respond to our state’s increased demand for health care professionals. We’re grateful to our supporters for assisting us in addressing this crucial need.”

The commons is slated to be a three-story, 172,000-square-foot building with classroom space for the Medical College of Georgia and the College of Dental Medicine and an interprofessional state-of-the-art simulation center. The facility will occupy a portion of the site of the former Gilbert Manor housing project and is expected to be occupied by fall 2014.

The building will feature:

  • A 26,620-square-foot simulation laboratory
  • Two 300-seat auditoriums
  • Two 150-seat classrooms
  • 13 learning communities
  • 13 small-group classrooms

Construction of the commons is central to the university’s efforts to address the statewide shortage of physicians and dentists, allowing the medical college to increase its class size from 230 to 300 by 2020; and the dental college to expand its class size from 63 to 100 by 2016.

Georgia, one of the 10 most populous states in the nation, ranks 41st in the number of physicians per capita, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The state’s rural and underserved areas are also faced with a shortage of dentists.

“The J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons has a state-of-the-art design that has been carefully crafted to reflect the future of medicine with extensive input from many stakeholders,” said MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley. “It is a much-needed facility that will enable the state’s medical college to grow to better serve the citizens of Georgia.”

“Teamwork is an integral part of modern health care and the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons building will serve as a training hub for a variety of students, faculty, residents and alumni,” said College of Dental Medicine Dean Connie L. Drisko. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this state-of-the-art space with my colleagues as we work collaboratively to meet the health needs of our growing state.”

A $10 million leadership gift from the late Dr. J. Harold Harrison and his wife, Mrs. Sue W. Harrison, resulted in the naming of the building. Dr. Harrison was a renowned vascular surgeon and 1948 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons as the name of the facility earlier this year.

The Harrisons’ gift generated additional support for the facility, including $5 million in donations from area donors and an $8 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, which supports charitable, scientific and educational activities.

“Dr. Harrison was a remarkable leader whose gift has continued to inspire others to support our philanthropic goals,” said Senior Vice President for Advancement Susan Barcus.  “Our increase in philanthropic support under Dr. Azziz’s presidency has been remarkable so far and we are grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Harrison, our alumni and other donors for all their efforts and support.”

The total construction cost of the project, including the simulation lab, is $76.5 million. The state of Georgia is providing $42 million in bond funding, and the university raised the additional $34.5 million through private philanthropy.

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