(To watch the Raising of the Flags Ceremony via Web streaming, click here.)
MACON — The Mercer University School of Medicine kicked off the celebration of its 25th anniversary today with a flag-raising ceremony for the School of Medicine and its two teaching hospitals, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon and Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah.
Mercer President William D. Underwood; Donald Faulk, chief executive officer of The Medical Center of Central Georgia; Dr. Ramon Meguiar, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Memorial Health University Medical Center; Dr. Martin M. Dalton, dean of the School of Medicine, and Charles Kemp, president of the Medical School Student Government Association, spoke during the ceremony, which was held on the School of Medicine campus in Macon. The flags of the school and the two medical centers, which were raised by the Mercer ROTC Color Guard, represent the steadfast commitment of the three institutions to meeting the health care needs of Georgia through the educating and training of physicians.
“Twenty-five years ago at this place, something very rare occurred, and that is that a new medical school was born,” said President Underwood. “One of only two medical schools started within the United States in the last 25 years. This new medical school wasn’t to be like other medical schools; it was to be a very special kind of school with a very special mission and a new and innovative approach to educating doctors; it was to be a school committed to educating doctors to meet the health care needs of those in greatest need of improved access to health care, people in rural Georgia and people in medically underserved areas of our state.”
Since its inception with an inaugural class of 24 students in the fall of 1982, Underwood noted, the school has grown, with the help of its partners Memorial Health and The Medical Center, to graduate more than 900 doctors, nearly two-thirds of that number remain in Georgia and 85 percent of those practice in rural and underserved areas.
“We join today with our friends and colleagues at the Medical Center of Central Georgia and Memorial Health University Medical Center to commemorate this 25th anniversary of the School of Medicine and to celebrate with you the clinical relationships we’ve established with these two great health care institutions,” Underwood told the crowd of some 150 people. “In recognition of our past work together and our shared future, we gather here today to raise the flag of each institution on this site, to acknowledge the quarter century of history achieved here, and to acknowledge the very bright future of the School of Medicine and our colleagues at these two exceptionally fine medical centers.”
Dean Dalton told the gathering that the School could not have achieved the degree of success it has without these partners. “Both institutions have supplied Mercer University School of Medicine with incredibly valuable clinical training for our third- and fourth-year students,” he said. “At both medical centers, they have received marvelous educational experiences in a collegial academic environment, which is directly responsible for their acceptance into prestigious residencies across the United States.”
Faulk saluted the long-standing relationship between the School and the Medical Center.
“We’ve walked step by step over these 25 years with the progress being made here, and we’re delighted that this relationship has enabled us to grow from those three residencies and 36 residents to now six residencies and almost 100 residents at the Medical Center here in Macon,” Faulk said. “…We salute the efforts of the members of our medical staff here and at the Medical Center of Central Georgia for their efforts with the students and the residents. The uniting of these flags is symbolic of our mutual commitments, and we’re delighted to be a part of that.”
Meguiar noted that Memorial Health University Medical Center owes its name in part to its relationship with Mercer. The relationship began in 1986 with a few students and expanded in 1996 with the arrival of the first group of the third-year medical students as the first members of the full-time clinical program at Memorial Health Medical Center. In 1999, an affiliation agreement between the University and Memorial Health expanded the relationship and added the rights to “University Medical Center.” Now, one-third of each third- and fourth-year class from the Medical School completes their training at Memorial. The relationship will expand further, when the School opens its second campus at Memorial Health University Medical Center, which will eventually allow Mercer to double its doctor of medicine graduates from 60 per year to 120.
“I’m honored to be a part of this ceremony, recognizing 25 years of service to Georgia. Mercer University School of Medicine graduates are needed now more than ever,” Meguiar said. “I’m proud of our partnership, and Memorial Health University Medical Center is privileged to have our flag fly with yours and with the Medical Center of Central Georgia.”
Representing the students of the medical school, fourth-year medical student Kemp said, “As we mark this historic milestone, I salute the students who have walked this path and entered these doors and are now serving patients across our state. I look forward to the future classes of men and women who commit to this important educational path at Mercer, both here in Macon and in Savannah.”
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,100 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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