Building the future of medicine through philanthropy

Published: January 27th, 2015

Category: Featured Content

By Styliana Resvanis

2-Blocksshowing-croppedEducation lays the foundation for a successful career in medicine, and the class of 1974 joined forces to help reinforce this foundation.

To celebrate their 40th reunion, the graduates aimed to raise $100,000 for the UF College of Medicine and far surpassed their goal, raising $350,000 to support scholarships and to name a room in the new George T. Harrell, MD, Medical Education Building.

“The University of Florida is part of our medical gene pool,” said Anthony McDonald, MD ’74, an assistant professor in the department of surgery at UF. “Just like most people feel they owe their parents a lot for where they are in life, I think those of us who have had successful medical careers owe the university in a similar fashion.”

McDonald said he and his classmates chose to support scholarships because they realize today’s medical students acquire more debt than in the past. In fact, 2013’s U.S. medical school graduates entered residency training with an average debt of nearly $170,000, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges.

“To finish residency and be several hundred thousand dollars in debt… it’s a huge burden to have to carry,” said Jo-Anne Stenger, MD ’74, a plastic surgeon based in California.

The class also supported a new home for future doctors and physician assistants. The four-story, 94,000-square-foot Harrell Medical Education Building will include circular learning studios to promote team-based learning, two floors of simulation space and an experiential learning theater to bring real patient-care scenarios to life.

“The college is obviously growing and needs improved facilities,” McDonald said. “The new building will expand opportunities for learning and education.”

Overall, the class of 1974 hopes to encourage other classes to join forces and support the alma mater that impacted their futures.

“The university gave us so much,” Stenger said. “It gave us our careers and provided us with a wonderful education, so that we could pretty much go anywhere and feel as though we had an education that was equal to — if not superior to — the other people we were practicing with. I think because of that, we are all very indebted to the University of Florida.”