During Col. George Washington Rains' deanship, several prominent and beloved faculty
members died. Dr. Ignatius Garvin, an original faculty member, passed away in May
1880. The founders of the school were rapidly aging. Both Drs. Lewis Ford and Louis
Dugas resigned two years later due to failing health. Dr. Lewis Ford died in 1883
and Dr. Dugas died 14 months later in October. These three doctors cumulatively taught
over 140 years at the institution.
During the session of 1881-1882, the Medical Department students uncharacteristically performed no dissections. The college instead relied on models for teaching. This problem was not unique to the Department, but to all medical schools in the United States. The school celebrated its 50th anniversary on commencement day Tuesday, February 28, 1882 at the Opera House. In an elaborate graduation procession, the trustees, faculty and clinical assistants, graduates, undergraduates and Col. Rains' students from Richmond Academy marched the few blocks to the Opera House on the corner of Greene and Jackson Streets. To celebrate the event, Col. Rains gave special prizes to Medical Department students.
Col. George W. Rains served the Medical Department of the University of Georgia after spending more than two decades as a military man, chemist, and engineer. In 1842 he graduated from West Point Military Academy in scientific studies and rose through the ranks of the Army to major during the Mexican War. In the late 1850s he resigned from the Army and secured patents on inventions related to steam engines. During the Civil War, he served as a colonel in the Confederacy. He chose Augusta as the site for the Confederate Powder Works and developed the best powder works in the country, receiving a patent relating to the production of gunpowder. After the war, he remained in Augusta and joined the Department's faculty as professor of chemistry and received an honorary MD degree. He was interested in improving the public health of the citizens and designed sewage facilities while also serving on the Board of Health. He served as dean of the Medical Department from 1880-1884 and continued as faculty until his retirement in 1894.
Augusta's New City Hospital proved inadequate and underwent two renovations. The first, consisting of a third-floor addition, was completed in 1881 for $3,200. However, after the renovations, the hospital remained too small and poorly equipped with no formal operating room.