Alumni respond to the call

Devoted graduates support plans for new building.

By: Joan Andrek

A crisis is looming in medicine today. Too many people in need of a doctor’s care find that physicians already have too large a patient load. In 2004, the Council on Graduate Medical Education predicted that by 2020, the national demand for physicians will dramatically outweigh the supply and recommended that medical schools expand the number of graduates by 15 percent by the end of 2015.The UF College of Medicine immediately responded to this impending shortage and in 2006 welcomed a freshman class of 130. However, UF’s current medical education building was designed to accommodate 90 students — meaning that a class of 130 has stretched the physical plant well beyond its capacity. In a sense, much like an adolescent in a growth spurt, the UF College of Medicine is in need of new anatomy — a vital and flexible infrastructure that can surround the heart and soul of extraordinary education.

Fortunately, a new HSC Medical Education Building is in the planning and development stages for UF. The building, which would incorporate state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and small group study space, would redefine how the physicians of tomorrow learn from and interact with their faculty mentors. Technology, and the advantages it can bring to medical education, is an enormous consideration: From simulation-based learning to video conferencing and Wi-Fi, the latest educational technology is integral to the new facility.

However, building the future of the College of Medicine will require much more than great plans. Financial resources are essential to moving past the planning stage. The College of Medicine receives approximately 5 percent of its annual budget from the state of Florida with the remaining coming from grants, fees and private contributions. Now more than ever, in the midst of a daunting economic downturn, private philanthropy has become an essential resource for new building anatomy. And that’s where The Gator Nation — the incredibly responsive and supportive UF alumni — has begun to lend a hand.

alumni-respondJason Rosenberg, MD ’94, and Sunil Joshi, MD ’98, saw the financial challenges posed by the new building as a fertile opportunity for medical alumni to give back. During a meeting of the Medical Alumni Association board of directors, Rosenberg issued a compelling challenge: to enlist 100 medical alumni to pledge $25,000 each to get the new building off the ground. And, like great leaders will do, Rosenberg and Joshi set the example by making the first two such pledges. Quickly on their heels came other College of Medicine alums who have built successful careers while never forgetting their starting point as medical students at UF.

H. Earl Cotman, MD ’70, knows quite a bit about being first — he was one of the first two African-American students to graduate from the UF College of Medicine. His memories of that time recall a challenging curriculum and the support of fellow students. Cotman was inspired to be an early supporter of the Medical Alumni Challenge because he knows that having the right learning environment can make all the difference in a student’s future. “I have seen the evidence of overcrowding at the College of Medicine. I know this college has a great past, and a bright future,” he said. “That is powerful motivation to give.”

Steven G. Miles, MD ’84, said an early decision regarding medical school changed his life. “As the third of nine children, tuition and location were very important factors,” Miles said. The decision to come to the College of Medicine was the first of many positive experiences for him at UF. From his point of view, Miles said, the most important reason to make his $25,000 pledge was recognizing that the health of future generations was largely dependent upon adding new doctors to the health-care landscape. “We are facing a significant shortage of new doctors in this country,” he said. “Helping UF now is the right thing to do.”

Drs. Stephen and Gina Sevigny, class of 1994, both expressed the importance of not only keeping pace with an anticipated shortage of doctors but also the need to keep UF firmly anchored as a top medical college in the Southeast. “We want UF to continue to attract the best and brightest students in the country,” Stephen said. For the Sevignys, their relationship with their alma mater extends well beyond their degrees. “UF is very special to us,” Gina said. “We met here as students. We also know from personal experience that the specialists here are the best in the world.” Both Stephen and Gina are adamant that there couldn’t be a better return on investment than giving to medicine. “We urge other medical alumni to join this effort,” Stephen said. “After all, a gift to medicine could affect the quality of your life for years to come.”

James B. Duke, MD ’85, like the Sevignys, is focused firmly on UF’s future. “UF is part of the fabric of my life,” he said. “From my earliest days as a student, the opportunity to explore all possibilities in medicine was what made the experience so gratifying. That’s why it is so important to give back. When you have had the chance to study at the flagship medical university, there is no reason not to use your time, talents and treasure to give back. We need to keep UF in the top 25 of medical colleges in the country.”

The energy and commitment of these extraordinary alumni and many others like them are a sterling example of how much is possible when we work together to achieve a common goal. For more information on the Medical Alumni Challenge, or the Florida Tomorrow: Campaign for Medicine, please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at 352-273-7986, or visit

The UF College of Medicine is indebted to all of the donors who have made a commitment to the future of medical education. More than $750,000 has been raised to date for the new HSC Medical Education Building fund, representing contributions from more than 500 donors from 40 states. From individual gifts to the entire class of 1963, our sincere appreciation goes to all who have given, including the following alumni who have accepted the Medical Alumni Challenge:

  • Dr. Mark A. Adkins
  • Drs. Thomas and Betsy Beers
  • Dr. H. Earl Cotman
  • Dr. James B. Duke
  • Dr. Rosi De Castro Fortunato
  • Dr. Lonnie Herzog
  • Dr. Sunil Joshi
  • Dr. Richard F. Leeds
  • Dr. Edward G. Mackay
  • Dr. Steven G. Miles
  • Dr. Jason J. Rosenberg
  • Drs. Stephen A. and Gina M. Sevigny
  • Dr. Ruben B. Timmons
  • Dr. Saul Ullman
  • Dr. Richard Van Eldik
  • The members of the class of 1963