Georgia Regents University will hold a grand opening ceremony for the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 16. Speakers will include Gov. Nathan Deal and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank M. Huckaby.
“The J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons is more than a building. It is evidence of our continued commitment as a university, one that houses the state’s only public medical college, to expand our educational capacity,” said GRU President Ricardo Azziz. “The commons will allow us to better respond to our state’s increased demand for health care professionals, and we’re grateful to our many legislators, donors, and friends who have helped make this building a reality.”
The Harrison Education Commons is a three-story, 175,000-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 occupies a portion of the site of the former Gilbert Manor housing project and is set to be certified as a LEED Silver building by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The building will feature:
- A 40,000-square-foot medical simulation center with dedicated 150-seat classroom
- Two 300-seat classrooms
- Two additional 150-seat classrooms
- 13 learning communities
- 13 small-group classrooms
- An administrative suite to house the MCG offices of Academic and Student and Multicultural Affairs
Construction of the Harrison Education Commons is central to the university’s efforts to address the statewide shortage of physicians and dentists, by providing additional educational space that enables future growth of the medical and dental colleges’ class size.
Georgia, one of the 10 most populous states in the nation that also consistently ranks among the top 10 states in population growth, 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.
“We celebrate the Harrison Education Commons as the new home of the Medical College of Georgia, which embraces academic excellence and interaction and stands as a fitting tribute to our alum, Dr. J. Harold Harrison, as well as future generations of physicians for our state and nation,” said MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley.
“The Harrison Education Commons will serve as a training hub for medical and dental students, faculty, and alumni,” said College of Dental Medicine Dean Carol Lefebvre. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this state-of-the-art space with colleagues who are on the cutting edge of health education and discovery in our state and in our nation.”
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.
“We are grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Harrison and our Medical College of Georgia alumni for their deep and abiding support,” said Senior Vice President for Advancement Susan Barcus. “We also have the Augusta community to thank for joining forces with supporters across the state to make this project a philanthropic priority.”
The total construction cost of the project, including the simulation lab, is $76 million. The state of Georgia provided $42 million in bond funding, and the university is raising a total of $34.5 million through private philanthropy.
The building is located adjacent to the College of Dental Medicine.