Next fall, six freshmen at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University will be recipients of the first scholarships established with initial earnings from the $66 million endowment provided by the late MCG alumnus Dr. J. Harold Harrison.
MCG leadership and the Executive Board of the MCG Foundation, Inc. have approved three full scholarships and three partial scholarships for students starting in the fall of 2014. Full scholarships will provide $35,000 annually – to cover tuition and fees at the state’s public medical school – and partial scholarships will provide $17,500 annually. A cadre of six J. Harold Harrison Scholars also will be added for each of the following three years.
Additionally, MCG and the Foundation have approved a $2 million Harrison Distinguished University Chair that will aid the strategic recruitment of a new faculty member.
“This is our opportunity to ‘raise our game,’ to attract more top-tier students, and to shepherd them to being great leaders who improve health care in the state of Georgia,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, MCG Dean. “I am grateful to Dr. Mason Thompson, an MCG alum and Foundation board member; to our Vice Dean Paul Wallach; and to our other colleagues who have worked diligently to create these remarkable scholarships.”
More scholarships and endowed chairs will be enabled over the next few years as the entire $66 million gift is converted into liquid assets, said Dr. James (Jim) B. Osborne, President and CEO of the MCG Foundation and Harrison’s friend and adviser. Currently about one third of the estate is available for use.
Harrison, a renowned vascular surgeon born in Kite, Ga., often commented that MCG provided a farmer’s son the opportunity to be a physician. A few months after his death on June 2, 2012, MCG learned that the 1948 graduate, who had a successful second career as a cattle farmer in Bartow, Ga., and wife Sue had given $10 million to help construct the new J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons. The Education Commons will serve as an academic home for the medical school as well as a site for interprofessional health education. In April 2013, MCG Foundation announced the $66 million endowment to aid student scholarship and establish additional faculty endowed chairs. Both the first scholarships and the new building will be ready for the Class of 2018.
Like the man they honor, J. Harold Harrison Scholars will have an exceptionally strong intellect coupled with strong leadership potential, Buckley said. “Dr. Harrison was not only a remarkable physician, but he was also a remarkable leader so the opportunity to attract and help students develop their full potential as great physicians and leaders is fully within the spirit of this remarkable gift and individual,” he said.
“These scholarships and endowed chairs will further transform the medical school,” Osborne noted. “Our overall goal is to have these merit scholarships, these leadership scholarships, help transform MCG into a school that can attract and retain students that we previously might have lost to other schools.”
Candidates for full scholarships will have to have a minimum Medical College Admission Test score of 35 and a 3.5 grade point average; candidates for half scholarships have the same GPA requirement and a minimum MCAT score of 34. Additionally, recipients will have proven track records of leadership such as community involvement and professional activities. Recipients will be selected by the MCG Scholarship Committee, chaired by Vice Dean Wallach, and will be confirmed by Dean Buckley. Scholarships will be renewed annually if students maintain their academic and leadership standing.
MCG already has completed the early decision process for the 230-member Class of 2018, Wallach said. In the following months, as they complete the class which starts next August, potential Harrison Scholars will be identified.
“We are interviewing another year of great applicants and looking forward to seating another terrific class,” Wallach said. “What is more exciting this year is we are going to have this group of scholarships designed to bring the highest academic performers into the school.” Medical students apply to and often are accepted at multiple institutions. While Wallach has not thoroughly analyzed how many top students choose other schools because of scholarship opportunities, he is confident that the level of the Harrison scholarships will be a game changer for some.
Buckley noted that the first scholarships and the J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons coming online at the same time make it a truly exceptional win-win for Harrison’s alma mater and he thanked the foundation leadership for thoroughly and efficiently carrying out Harrison’s intent.
“This is very much in the style of Dr. Harrison who loved his medical school but also loved and served the MCG Foundation which exists to serve his alma mater,” Buckley said. Harrison was a long-time foundation board member who twice served as Chairman of the Board
Foundation board members and MCG alums Dr. Thompson, Dr. Sandra N. Freedman, and Dr. Charles G. Green Jr. also have joined the MCG Scholarship Committee.