Take 5 — President Michael F. Adams on medical education in Athens


Michael F. Adams

Q: How did the idea for physician education at UGA originate?

A: I stood on the steps of The Chapel more than 13 years ago a newly appointed president and told the audience that I knew the difference between a first-rate liberal arts college and a first-rate research university. It had struck me in the briefing books and the Web material that I read about UGA that our portfolio of offerings omitted broad-scope international programs, public health programs, medical research and engineering research. Probably 80 percent of federal research money goes to those areas. I knew that I had significant challenges in those areas, and that was one of the many reasons I hired Karen Holbrook as provost, who had a long history in research at the University of Washington Medical School and whom I knew could help me formulate these academic proposals, most of which have now come to fruition.

Q: What was the process to get to the point of admitting the first class this year?

A: The process is a forthright and yet time-consuming one. All academic programs at UGA are proposed in the faculty committees, examined by each academic unit, forwarded to University Council and then to the Regents for hopeful approval.  As in any quasi-legislative process, it is easier to stop something than to move it forward, and it has taken the cooperation of scores of people to get physician education as well as those other efforts to the point at which they now reside.

Q: How does UGA benefit from the partnership with the Medical College of Georgia?

The first class of students in the MCG-UGA Medical Partnership in Athens got to know each other during orientation activities before classes began in August. Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker.

A: It certainly broadens our portfolio and it should over time substantially increase our research opportunities with our colleagues at MCG. The medical partnership also complements the work we were already doing in pharmacy, veterinary medicine, animal science and public health.  Q: What are the benefits of having medical education in Athens, Northeast Georgia and the rest of the state?  A. I believe that 20 years from now this will be recognized as one of this area’s greatest economic stimuli, not to mention the improvement in the quality of life and the intellectual level of the three hospitals with which we will work—Northeast Georgia Regional in Gainesville and Athens Regional and St. Mary’s in Athens. The ultimate benefit in better health will be to the people of Georgia.

Q: Will UGA have its own medical school one day?

A. I suspect somebody other than me will decide that. I would simply say that most successful, full-scale flagships have research in all of the areas I have mentioned, and I think that the state of Georgia and the University of Georgia have left federal money on the table for years by not having a broader and more aggressive research operation.