A gift for students

A gift for students

Alum’s donation will help UF establish primary care education center

 By Karen Dooley

A UF College of Medicine alumnus and his wife have made a significant contribution that will establish a center for primary care education and fuel the university’s plan to build a new medical education building.

H. James Free, M.D., a member of the College of Medicine’s first graduating class of 1960, and his wife, Carole, made the lead gift toward the construction of a 100,000-square-foot building to be located next to the Health Professions/Nursing/Pharmacy Complex on Newell Road.

The Frees’ gift will initiate the College of Medicine’s education building project, and they have requested that the new facility be named in honor of Dr. George T. Harrell, the college’s founding dean, who passed away in 1999.

Conditions and terms of the gift agreement require that the amount remain confidential.

Harrell, who was hired in 1954 to design and develop the college, handpicked its first group of students and faculty. During his 10 years at UF, Harrell emphasized the importance of training physicians to understand and care for the entire patient.

He advocated training students in small groups to prepare them to work effectively as part of multidisciplinary health care teams, which are key concepts proposed for the College of Medicine’s revised curriculum. The new building will be designed to accommodate this style of learning as well as provide access to advanced technology and simulation.

In addition to naming the new facility the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building, the College of Medicine also will establish the H. James Free, M.D., Center for Primary Care Education and Innovation.

“Dr. Free has practiced medicine for more than five decades in a truly compassionate and thoughtful manner,” said Dr. Michael L. Good, dean of the College of Medicine. “He is an excellent role model for our medical students, both in his demonstration of exceptional patient care and in his extraordinary service to his community and now to his alma mater. We are honored and deeply grateful for the gift he and his wife make today.”