A Humble Start
Four-hundred and fifty dollars.
That was the investment that seeded an approximately $230 million engine that powers the growth and dynamism of the Medical College of Georgia.
The Medical College of Georgia Foundation, Inc., was established in 1954 when a small group of supporters pooled the resources they had on hand at the time to create a philanthropic arm of support for the state’s public medical school.
The timing was critical. Although MCG had done a stellar job advancing its mission since its inception in 1828, that mission was now outpacing its resources. The Eugene Talmadge Memorial Hospital (now AU Health Medical Center) was nearing completion, the Dugas and Murphy buildings were being enlarged and class sizes were increasing by more than a third. Educational, research and clinical initiatives were growing exponentially as MCG strove to optimize health care for citizens throughout Georgia and beyond.
Although the state’s generosity – including $11 million at the time to fund the expansion of the physical plant – was greatly appreciated, its investment created vigor for enriching and promoting program development that only private support could make possible.
Coming to Fruition
Then-President Edgar R. Pund had no higher priority than to find a way to supplement taxpayer-funded resources with donations that could be invested, leveraged and otherwise optimized for long-term vitality. It was at the annual meeting of the MCG Alumni Association in Macon, Georgia, on February 25, 1954, that the dream came to fruition.
Pund, along with the assembled alumni – William L. Barton (’35) of Macon, President Emeritus G. Lombard Kelly (’24) of Augusta, J.C. Metts (’23) of Savannah and Addison W. Simpson Jr. (’39) of Washington, Georgia – reached into their wallets on the spot. The combined total of $450 would reap dividends none of them could possibly envision at the time. The Superior Court of Richmond County formally incorporated the Medical College of Georgia Foundation in the State of Georgia on October 19, 1954.
Within the Foundation’s first five years, MCG quickly recognized the benefits of alumni gifts in enriching education, scholarship and staff support. With more than $5,000 in contributions (and the first endowment fund established in the amount of $1,000), the Foundation began supporting postgraduate courses that would become today’s Grand Rounds, funded inaugural scholarships and provided supplemental income to recruit the MCG’s first staff electrical engineer, a position to maintain a growing number of electronic machines that was not funded in the state budget.
The 1960s and ’70s would be a period of significant growth both for the university and alumni support. New colleges of dental medicine, graduate studies, and allied health sciences were established, and the university acquired land enabling construction of a student center, student housing, a freestanding library and a research and education building.
Transformation and Renewal
Against this backdrop of transformation and renewal, then-Executive Director James C. Austin kicked off the school’s first campaign in 1969. The $3 million, 10-year capital campaign, “Touching Your Life," celebrated MCG’s 150 years of teaching, research, patient care and student life. Its focus was providing the university with the fiscal flexibility to support a strong faculty and research while attracting top-notch students. The campaign provided endowed professorships, supplemental funds for MCG’s five colleges, graduate fellowship funds and student financial aid.
Decades of achievement in endowment growth and annual support followed. Your giving has funded 45 fully endowed chairs and, since 1972, has allowed us to distribute more than $142 million in support to the MCG. In 2014, we witnessed the opening of the J. Harold Harrison, MD, Education Commons building and the awarding of the first full-tuition scholarships for medical students in the history of MCG.
The Foundation’s mission continues to grow. Today, the MCG Foundation serves as the umbrella foundation for Augusta University, one of Georgia’s most diverse and dynamic public research universities. As the home to three campuses in Augusta, a partnership campus in Athens, satellite campuses throughout the state and the state’s sole dental college, the university is at the forefront of groundbreaking research focused on improving and enriching the human experience.
The outpouring of generosity that day in 1954 was one of many voluntary demonstrations of support that have characterized MCG’s history, an ongoing testament to awe-inspiring altruism and selfless dedication. But that particular gesture was singular in its scope and breadth. The establishment of a Foundation created an instrument that would maximize MCG’s impact for generations to come – culminating with its present-day endowment assets of approximately $230 million, a figure that keeps growing.
Truly, the history of the Foundation is a history of you – MCG’s alumni and supporters. With deep and humble gratitude, we thank you for passionate and longstanding support of an institution that continues to define education, health care and research in Georgia, the region and the world.