Mercer University held a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 3 at the site of its planned medical school campus in Uptown Columbus on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.
The University’s relocation and expansion of its Columbus campus, first announced in May 2019, will enable the School of Medicine to increase the campus’ enrollment to 240 Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) students over the next several years, eventually equaling the size of its campuses in Macon and Savannah.
“Our colleges and universities throughout the state have been a key resource in fighting COVID-19 through the whole pandemic,” said Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp, who spoke at the ceremony along with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston.
“This new medical campus is a great example of Mercer’s ongoing partnership in that fight and its commitment to caring for people not only in this area but all of Southwest Georgia and rural Georgia, in particular. At a time when all lives are looking to our health care system for guidance and support, I, for one, am very grateful for that.”
The site at 1701 First Ave., offered to Mercer by Columbus community leaders in March, was owned by TSYS, a Global Payments company, just north of the company’s existing Riverfront Campus. This location will allow for construction of a free-built structure to better suit the needs of medical school students, faculty and staff, and will also provide an iconic locale.
“Today demonstrates the good that can come when local communities, institutions and government come together to solve a problem,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “It couldn’t have happened without the can-do attitude that I see every time I visit this community – the can-do attitude that Columbus is known for.”
The School of Medicine is currently recruiting and hiring new faculty and scientists, and the inaugural class of first-year M.D. students in Columbus is scheduled to enroll in August 2021.