Something's going on in the Lake Nona area.
Giant earthmoving vehicles lumber across the terrain, piles of brushy shrubs have been yanked out of the earth, and fences are starting to snake around the edges of the cleared land. Surveyors have begun mapping the lay of the land.
Work has started on the first stage of the anticipated "Medical City" complex in southwest Orlando that will be home to a medical college, a veterans' hospital and an internationally acclaimed research institute.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) has started site preparation on the 50 acres that will be home to its UCF Health Sciences Campus that will include a new College of Medicine and a medical library, as well as the transplanted Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences. Future plans call for the Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona to be the site for other UCF Health Sciences programs such as the College of Nursing.
The campus will eventually accommodate as many as 5,000 students and faculty who will share up to two million square feet of research space and 500,000 square feet of classrooms.
The medical degree program calls for a four-year curriculum that could begin clinical education as early as the fall of 2009. When fully in operation, the program will produce about 120 medical graduates a year.
The UCF Board of Trustees approved the creation of a medical college at UCF in April 2006. The new school is anticipated to increase opportunities for medical education in Florida while boosting the state's economy.
In April of this year, the UCF Board of Trustees revised its financing plan for paying for the construction costs for the buildings that will house the Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences and the College of Medicine. The plan was revised following updated building designs that increased the square footage of the College of Medicine and reduced the initial cost of the Burnett building. Funding for these buildings will come from private donations, matching funds, state construction dollars and bond issues.
UCF has raised more than $100 million in private donations and state matching funds to pay for the construction of these first two buildings on the Lake Nona campus. Donations and matching funds will cover the entire cost of the estimated $68 million for the building that will house the medical college and library.
The Burnett building is projected to cost around $90 million; the university proposes to borrow up to $60 million in bond issues to pay for the costs which are not covered by pledges, matching funds and state construction dollars that have been appropriated.
Construction workers will begin pouring concrete for the Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences building in June, as soon as current site preparation work is completed. The five-story building is expected to be completed by April, 2009.
The Burnett building will have a penthouse structure designed to hold the mechanical equipment. One of the floors will be left unfinished and will be completed as the program expands. The architectural firm for the building is HOK, and construction will be done by Whiting Turner.
Construction work on the College of Medicine will begin in December of this year and is expected to be completed by June 2009, in time for the first class of 40 medical students to begin their studies in the fall.
The architectural firm of Hunton Brady is working on the design development phase for the College of Medicine building, which is also referred to as the Learning Resource Center. The five story building will contain a medical library and classrooms, lecture and lab space, including a clinical skills suite, gross anatomy lab, wet lab, and simulation facilities. It will also include office space for faculty and administrators and a variety of student spaces. The construction firm is Balfour Beatty, formerly Centex.
This spring, temporary quarters for the medical college opened in the University Tower building at the UCF Research Park, adjacent to the main campus. Administrative and faculty offices, lab space, lecture hall and a library will occupy more than 16,000 square feet on the third floor. Use of this space will allow the college to grow while the permanent facility is in the construction phase and can be used for the planned first year students should there be delay in construction.
Constructing a Curriculum
Dr. Deborah German is making big plans.
As dean of the new College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida (UCF), she is designing the curriculum for the 40 medical students who will arrive on campus in the fall of 2009 and their succeeding classes.
The fact that construction on the medical school is still in the site preparation phase and has yet to come out of the ground does not make her job any less urgent.
When she was named dean in the fall of 2006, she was scholar in residence at the Association of American Medical Colleges and a former senior associate dean at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
She is a graduate of Boston University and earned her medical degree from Harvard University.
German was selected from the five finalists for appointment as founding dean after she shared her vision for medical education, research and service.
"Dr. German's passion and enthusiasm for medical education and her experience as a medical school administrator and scholar made her the ideal candidate for the monumental task of launching UCF's College of Medicine," UCF provost and executive vice president Terry Hickey said in announcing German's selection.
German must develop a curriculum and secure preliminary accreditation by the spring of 2008.
"We made our first goal with the first submission to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) in late April. We have put together our outline for the curriculum and are very pleased," German said.
The LCME is the nationally recognized accrediting authority for medical education programs leading to the MD degree in medical schools in the United States and Canada.
"We're actively hiring faculty and have signed one assistant dean, one director, and multiple coordinators and associates," she reported.
"We expect in the next month or two to hire at least 10 faculty members, as we have seven searches coming to an end for major faculty posts and we have excellent candidates."
German reported that the Lake Nona facility is moving forward on schedule. The administrative officers and staff who are designing the curriculum moved into their planned temporary quarters in May. They are eager for the LCME to see the design of this facility.
German is rolling out the campaign to fund tuition and expenses for the first class to enter the medical school. The college hopes to raise money to provide full, one-year scholarships that include living expenses for the entire class. German has commitments for four of the scholarships that are worth $40,000 each.