By | January 17, 2008 12:00 am

ORLANDO, Jan. 17, 2008 — It was a year ago, at an Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Retreat, that University of Central Florida Dean Deborah German shared an innovative vision for the up-and-coming College of Medicine.

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the program German was about to propose would be the first of its kind. She wanted to raise $6.4 million, which would cover the first40 students’ tuition, and living expenses for all four years of the medical degree program. It would be a way for the college to make a name for itself and to attract some of the brightest students from around the state and country to the charter class.

Two business leaders immediately stepped forward and made the first donations. Six-months later an organized campaign to raise funds was launched. Now as leaders prepare to attend the annual chamber retreat this weekend, German’s vision continues to inspire the Central Florida community, as evidenced by 22 of the 40 scholarships being completely funded.

“We are pursuing an innovative program that promises to be a model for medical education for the 21st Century,” German said. “The students in our first class will build it with us. The scholarships are a critical ingredient to our success in attracting the very best students. I am very thankful to those in our community who have already stepped forward to invest in our future. Now is the time to assist us with the last 18 scholarships. We are almost there, but we need your help to finish this part of the race.”

German said scholarships make a difference in many ways.

“I know from my own experience that these scholarships will transform the lives of our students and their future patients,” German said.

Those first donors remain staunch advocates of the medical college and the new “medical city.” The college’s future location at Lake Nona will also be home to the California-based Burnham Institute for Medical Research, a Veteran’s Administration hospital and a host of other research facilities and resources, including the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Institute.

“It is clear to us that a burgeoning medical city has excited and awakened the imagination of our community,” said Rasesh Thakkar, senior managing director of the Tavistock Group and Co-Chair of the Charter Class Scholarship Committee. “The first class will set the standard for the future. It is important we attract the best and the brightest. This historic effort should be applauded.”

Michael Minton, managing shareholder for Dean Mead and Co-Chair of the Charter Class Scholarship Committee, said the progress made on the medical city and the scholarships reflect the community’s support for the college. His law firm provided the first endowed scholarship.

“We continue to encourage other businesses to step up to the plate and help us fill the college’s goal of 40 scholarships for the charter class,” Minton said. “This is like priming a pump. We need to invest a little today to assure the positive longterm benefits to Central Florida for years to come, resulting from the premier program Dean
German has initiated to build at the UCF College of Medicine.”

Pending preliminary accreditation the college will begin instruction leading to the M.D. degree in fall 2009 and it eventually will graduate 120 medical students each year. The college, along with its medical library will be located at the UCF Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona on 50 acres. The site also will include the UCF Burnett Biomedical Sciences Building and other health science programs and organizations.

To help with the remaining scholarships contact Charles Roberts, Assistant Vice President for Development, College of Medicine at 407-823-4539.

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