History of the Medical College of Georgia


In 1957-1958, students formed the Milton Antony Medical Society to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of medical history. Faculty members, such as President Emeritus Kelly, gave speeches on medical topics. The school realized the library's space in the Kelly Administration Building was too small and asked the Board of Regents for money to build a new library. MCG's first freestanding library opened in 1963 and offered many modern conveniences to students and faculty.

The Board of Regents approved President Harry O'Rear's request for more medical programs at MCG in the 1960s by establishing several new schools. In 1965, the Board of Regents approved the School of Graduate Studies, and it awarded Jasper Lewis the first PhD in biochemistry in 1966. The Medical College of Georgia admitted the first dental doctoral students into the School of Dentistry in 1969, almost 100 years after the faculty first discussed the program. In the same year, John Harper and Frank Rumph, two black students, entered the School of Medicine. MCG formed the School of Allied Health Sciences in 1968.

MCG started a minority affairs program in 1969, which encouraged minority students to pursue medical careers. The Board of Regents changed the admission policy at Talmadge Memorial Hospital in November 1969, removing the need for referral and allowing MCG physicians to see any patient at the hospital. Joyce Beeks became the first black woman to graduate with an MCG bachelor of nursing degree in 1971.

Aesculapain 1969
Aesculapian Pages
Biochemistry 1960s
Lab Pictures

Dr. Harry Barron O'Rear (1920-2008)
President, 1960-1972

Harry O'RearDr. Harry O'Rear received his undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama and his M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He served two years as a medical officer in the U.S. Army in the Far East. Dr. O'Rear completed postgraduate training in pediatrics at Duke University. He was a faculty member of Duke before coming to the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. O'Rear joined the institution in 1950 as associate professor. One year later he was promoted to professor and chair of pediatrics, then dean of the School of Medicine in 1953.

In 1958, the Board of Regents named him acting president, and in summer 1960, he became the third president of the Medical College of Georgia. During his presidency, the university acquired 26 acres of land for future growth, added schools of Dentistry and Allied Health Sciences and built several buildings, including the library and Dentistry Building. Even though the presidency occupied most of his time, Dr. O'Rear found time to pursue his favorite hobby, photographing flowers in their natural settings. He resigned as president in 1972 to accept the full-time position of vice chancellor for health affairs in the University System of Georgia, a position he held until his retirement in 1985.

Dentistry Building

Dentistry BuildingMCG completed the School of Dentistry Building in 1971, seven years after the Board of Regents established the school. The building houses the School of Dentistry as well as educational and clinical space. The building has undergone additions and renovations.

Carl T. Sanders Research and Education Building

Research and Education BuildingNamed for the father of Carl E. Sanders, Georgia's governor from 1963-1967, the Carl T. Sanders Research & Education Building has over 303,000 square feet of floor space. Planning for the building began in the early 1960s; construction was completed in the early 1970s. Dr. Robert A. Liebelt, then associate dean for curriculum, described the difficulties he faced in planning for the construction of the R & E Building. The planning team needed to build a basic science instruction building that would fully serve MCG's needs. Specifically, he stressed balancing the need for "producing larger numbers of physicians" with maintaining a feeling of intimate lecture spaces. When constructed, the R & E building was the largest instructional building in the University System of Georgia. Construction and equipment costs totaled more than $10 million.

Urban Renewal

MCG CampusThe late 1960s saw marked growth as MCG transformed into an institution with an eye toward the future, strategically focused on expanding its mission of education and health care. Expansion required acquiring additional funds and land to support the future growth of the school. MCG President Harry Barron O'Rear wanted to purchase land across Gwinnett Street to support this vision and asked the city of Augusta for assistance. In 1962, the Board of Regents approved President O'Rear's plan, and the school purchased the 25 acres of land. With this land, the school built a Student Center, student housing and the Carl T. Sanders Research and Education Building. In addition, the school used a portion of land initially traded with the city of Augusta to build the school's first freestanding library.


Library 1959-1970s The Medical College of Georgia received funds for building a new library in 1959, and the architectural firm of Eve and Stulb designed it. Construction started on the new library in 1962, and in 1963, the building was completed. Total construction costs for the new library were $670,799. Within five years of moving to its new location, the problem of lack of space resurfaced. The library also expanded the number of employees during these years from Ms. Sadie Rainsford and one assistant to Ms. Rainsford, three staff members, and a student worker.

In June 1970, the library joined the Southeastern Regional Medical Library Program, sponsored by the National Library of Medicine. The Medical Library Assistance Act of 1965 provides funding for this program. The 1965 law authorized the National Library of Medicine to support extramural programs to help "expand and improve the nations medical library and health communications resources, technology, and manpower for service to the health community." In the early 1970s, the library started using the Dewey Decimal System, and in 1971, the library created the audio-visual department. The Medical College of Georgia received a Medical Library Resource Grant to develop the audio-visual department. In 1972, Mr. Tom Basler assumed the role of Head Librarian and the library switched to the National Library of Medicine cataloging system.