College of Medicine breaks ground on new George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building
By Christine Boatwright
The University of Florida College of Medicine broke ground Nov. 22 for the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building, the university’s future home for medical students and physician assistant students, with a non-traditional ceremony that demonstrated the future building’s emphasis on collaborative learning.
“The building is designed with the students foremost in mind,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “We intend for this inspirational building to become a model for the College of Medicine and for the University of Florida.”
Included among the building’s signature spaces will be circular learning studios equipped with advanced technologies to accommodate team-based learning efforts. During the groundbreaking, a group of faculty, alumni and students simulated a small-group learning scenario, in which they discussed the needs of a future medical student at UF. The demonstration highlighted a key component of the medical school’s updated medical education curriculum, which the facility will be designed to support.
“The strategic plan for UF Health has been focused on creating an integrated academic health center with the goal of improving the health of our patients,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health. “A major part of that process was creating a medical school curriculum around the patient, and once that was done, we designed a medical education facility that would be customized to house such a forward-looking curriculum.”
The 94,000-square-foot, four-story facility, named after the college’s founding dean, will also enable the college to expand its space for simulation education on the top two floors. The fourth floor will house a state-of-the-art experiential learning theater that can easily be transformed into a variety of settings, creating real-life scenarios to help teach students and professionals complicated, high-risk skills.
“In order to deliver exceptional medical training to the next generation of physicians and physician assistants, we must transform how and where our students learn,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine. “The Harrell Building is strategically designed to support this shift in teaching and learning.”
Heather Harrell, M.D., granddaughter of George Harrell and a 1995 graduate of the UF College of Medicine, spoke during the ceremony, reflecting on her grandfather’s vision for the medical school more than 50 years ago.
“My grandfather passionately believed that educating medical students was the only unique mission of a medical school, and that medical students must feel valued not just by the faculty, but that their physical surrounding should also affirm their value,” Harrell said.
Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, also spoke at the celebration, commenting on the “new excellence” in academic medicine.
The groundbreaking celebration was held on the site of the new Medical Education Building, located on the north edge of the UF Health Science Center on Newell Drive across from the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute.
The university awarded Charles Perry Partners Inc., of Gainesville, a $30.3 million contract to construct the Harrell Medical Education Building. Heery International and Ballinger are designing the facility, which is slated to open in fall 2015.