GHSU breaks ground on 'the school's future'

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News 12 First at Five / Thursday, Nov. 28, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Enrollment numbers at the medical college at GHSU are expected to be going up, thanks to a brand new building.

On Tuesday, the school broke ground on a state-of-the-art building that will help the school graduate more doctors and more dentists.

It's going to be a $76 million project connected to the new dental school, and it will help take both the medical school and dental school to a whole new level.

Connie Drisko, dean of the dental school, says, "We're very excited. This has been three years in the planning."

Hundreds came to see the ground breaking for the LEED-certified facility, set to open by fall of 2014.

The student president of MCG's class of 2015 said, "For us to actually be able to see it and to walk in the building before we graduate, that makes this important."

But this will be more than just another building on campus. It will allow the medical college to increase class sizes from 230 to 300 over the next seven years.

"This building, as well as all the efforts the university ... will allow us to be among the top and the largest schools in the nation," said GHSU President Dr. Azziz.

The Medical College of Georgia is already the 10th largest med school in the country, but this facility will help push enrollment numbers closer to number one, growth that Dean Drisko says is now more important than ever.

"Health care demands are increasing by the day, and we're not producing enough physicians and dentists right now to meet those demands," she said.

Even though Georgia has the 10th highest population in the country, it only ranks 41st in the number of doctors per capita.

"This school alone will do a lot to meet the shortage of physicians and dentists in Georgia, but we also have to work on keeping our physicians," Azziz said.

And the city says they are working to do just that.

"We continue to improve our cultural activities, our city center, really just to create an environment that's attractive to the best and the brightest to recruit and retain them," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

The name of the building will be the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons building in memory of the MCG alum and renowned cardiovascular surgeon.

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