News 12 at 6 o'clock / Saturday, April 27, 2013
AUGUSTA (WRDW) -- There was excitement, and a lot of it, at a meeting of the Medical College of Georgia Foundation on Saturday afternoon.
"This Foundation of the Medical College of Georgia will be in receipt of an amount totaling $66 million," announced Dr. Cecil F. Whitaker, followed by gasps of surprise and thunderous applause.
Members of the foundation voted unanimously to approve the largest donation ever to the college.
"Oh, I think it's a game-changer for the Medical College of Georgia," said Dr. Jim Osborne, president and CEO of the foundation.
He says, based on his research, the $66 million donation is also possibly the largest donation to a public college in Georgia.
In his will, the late Dr. J. "Harold" Harrison, a 1948 MCG graduate, leaves $66 million dollars to his alma mater.
"He made a comment that he always appreciated the Medical College of Georgia because it took a country boy and made a doctor out of him," Osborne said.
However, the gift, called the Harrison Fellowship Endowment Fund, won't go to construction of new buildings; it'll go straight to students and faculty.
That's good news for pre-med Georgia Regents University student Amber Colquitt.
"Personally, myself, that's how I pay for college and pay for all my books is through scholarships. I receive several. I receive about four scholarships," she said.
The donation will also be used to recruit more endowed professors, or chairs, which is probably the most important recruiting tool there is.
"We are so, so blessed to have these amazingly talented and educated professors to work under and be our mentors," Colquitt said.
Osborne says this announcement is nothing short of a transformation for this institution.
"People that we want to stay in Georgia who are from Georgia who may go to an Ivy League school might want to come here now because we can give them scholarships," he said.
Harrison is a graduate of both the University of Georgia and MCG. He's originally from the town of Kite in Johnson County, Ga. At a young age, only 11 years after he graduated, he established the nation's first vascular training program in Atlanta. When he retired more recently, he went back to the farm as a cattle rancher in Jefferson County. He donated another $10 million back in 2010 to build an Education Commons Building at GRU. He died on June 2, 2012.