Friday, December 19, 2014

A letter from Dean Peter F. Buckley on unprecedented $66 million gift to GRU’s Medical College of Georgia

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

It is with great joy and gratitude that I share with each of you that our 1948 alum, the late and truly great Dr. J. Harold Harrison, a renowned vascular surgeon from Kite, Ga., who loved his medical school and never forgot the opportunities it helped provide to him, has given an unprecedented $66 million gift to our Medical College of Georgia.

This incredibly generous gift from the late Dr. Harrison, his wonderful wife Sue and the entire Harrison family will help secure the best students and faculty for Georgia’s public medical school.

At his request, the $66 million endowment in the MCG Fou
ndation will support student scholarship as well as endowed chairs for faculty.

Dr. Harrison clearly understood his medical school and what was needed to make it even greater. His generosity could not have occurred at a better time in our 185-year history.

You likely already know that recently Dr. Harrison and his wife completed a generous $10 million leadership gift that inspired the naming of the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, which will open next year as a beautiful and more spacious new home base for our educational activities, as well as those of our colleagues in the GRU College of Dental Medicine.

This new gift will help ensure that finances don’t stand in the way of the best students coming to MCG. It also will help ensure that students find here the truly exceptional medical education they expect and deserve, by helping us attract and retain top faculty.

Dr. Harrison knew from his own travels, that that the road to medical school was a tough one. Still, even in the peak of the Depression, Dr. Harrison’s father, James W. Harrison, a farmer, told his extremely smart son that he was going to be a doctor and that he would figure out how to make that happen. The son would certainly do his part, finishing his schooling in Kite by age 15, spending a year at Georgia Military College Prep High School in Milledgeville, then six quarters at the University of Georgia before arriving at MCG at the tender age of 18.

“It’s an institution that gave me an opportunity to go to medical school from Kite, Ga., without any fanfare, and it takes everybody,” he said many years ago. “You don’t have to be a doctor’s son or a lawyer’s son. If you do your work, you can get into the Medical College of Georgia.”

Dr. Harrison always wanted to make sure that smart, inspired students who followed had the same opportunity. Well, he certainly has.

And so we say a humble thank you to Dr. J. Harold and Sue Harrison for their commitment to MCG, to students and to the wellbeing of the state of Georgia.

We thank MCG Foundation CEO James B. Osborne Sr. for his leadership role in this game-changing gift for our medical school. Certainly Dr. Osborne’s long-term friendship with Dr. Harrison and his own love for our medical school greatly enabled this gift.

A particular thank you as well goes to two incredible MCG alums and MCG Foundation Board members, Drs. Cecil F. Whitaker Jr. and Willam E. Mayher III, for their stalwart dedication to MCG, to their fellow alums and to future graduates. Please know that many others were supportive in this process so more thanks are in the works.

Finally, of course, we thank our university President, Dr. Ricardo Azziz, whose energy, vision, momentum, and leadership added fuel to Dr. Harrison’s significant passion for his alma mater.

This news came during our Alumni Weekend and, of course, there was tremendous excitement. It was wonderful to catch up with our alumni and to share in this remarkable moment together with all our community.

Truly there are terrific days ahead for us and exceptional people behind us.


My best always,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.


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