USC School of Medicine-Greenville construction at halfway mark

Construction at the half-way mark; Extraordinary interest seen from both faculty and students in Greenville medical school 

Dec. 16, 2011 - Faculty and student applications are outpacing available slots by a more than 10-to-1 margin at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville, officials said..

Leaders of the University of South Carolina (USC) and the Greenville Health System (GHS) toured the school’s innovative education building Friday and got an update on its progress. The school is scheduled to open its doors in July 2012.

Construction on the 90,000-square-foot Health Sciences Education Building hit the half-way mark this week. The state-of-the-art education building, located on the Greenville Memorial Medical Campus, also will house the S.C. College of Pharmacy, the USCSOM-Columbia satellite Certified Nurse Anesthesia program and the GHS regional simulation center.

“We’re thrilled at how quickly the medical school is progressing,” said the school’s founding dean, Jerry Youkey, M.D. “The reception, interest and enthusiasm from potential students and faculty have been extraordinary.”

The community response has also been strong, with hundreds dropping by the building this week to become part of the school’s history by signing a beam that will be used in the construction. By Friday, the 13-foot beam, which will be bolted into place as part of structural support within the rotunda, was crowded with signatures of university, hospital, construction and community members who have had a role in bringing the medical education program to fruition.

“This is indeed a milestone for the USC School of Medicine-Greenville,” said USC president Harris Pastides. “It is also a testament to what people can achieve with imagination, determination and a commitment to do what’s right for the health of the people of South Carolina.”

The school, which began recruiting students immediately after receiving preliminary accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in October, has received more than 800 applications for the first class and expects to enroll 50 students. Plans call for a gradual expansion of each first-year class, with a goal of 100 students in the fourth entering class.

Faculty interest is also extraordinarily high. The school has received nearly 300 applications for approximately 22 basic science positions. Six faculty positions have been filled, with the remaining faculty to be hired over the next two years. Additionally, more than 350 clinical faculty who have been teaching third- and fourth-year USCSOM students in Greenville through the school’s longtime partnership with GHS have been appointed to the faculty.

A national search is underway for the chair of the school’s biomedical sciences department. The new chair is expected to be chosen by the end of January.

“Education has been a crucial part of our mission since our founding in 1912 when we established our very own nursing school just days after City Hospital opened,” said Michael Riordan, GHS president and CEO. “GHS also plays an important role in supporting workforce development and the economic health of our region, and I know that the research and education made possible through this school will have an economic ripple effect in our community for decades to come.”

The economic impact is already being felt, with an average of 100 workers employed daily on the building’s upfit. When the project is completed in summer 2012, it will have generated approximately $7 million in construction-related salaries.

Contractors involved in the upfit include Rodgers Construction; Steel Fab Inc.; Spectrum Interiors of South Carolina, Inc; Warco Construction Inc.; Southern Painting & Maintenance Specialists Inc.; Bonitz Flooring Group; Doyle Dickerson Terrazzo; VSC Fire & Security; W.B. Guimarin & Co. Inc.; and H.R. Allen Inc. The building was initially designed by Design Strategies, with the upfit led by CO Architects and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture.