UF Establishes Primary Care Education Center

Published: September 16th, 2013

Category: H. James Free, James Free Center


The University of Florida announced today that a UF College of Medicine alumnus and his wife have made a significant contribution that will establish a center for primary care education and fuel the university’s plan to build a new medical education building

Dr. H. James Free, a member of the College of Medicine’s first graduating class of 1960, and his wife, Carole, made the lead gift toward the construction of the 100,000-square-foot building, to be located next to the Health Professions, Nursing and Pharmacy Building on Newell Road.

“The Frees are remarkable people,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “They embody the qualities we all admire most: modesty, integrity and a commitment to public service. I like to think they also represent what it means to be a University of Florida graduate, and their generous and visionary gift means that ideal will live on for many years to come.”

The Frees’ gift will initiate the College of Medicine’s education building project, and they have requested that the new facility be named in honor of Dr. George T. Harrell, the college’s founding dean who passed away in 1999.

“I am truly inspired by the generosity, the vision and the loyalty that Jim and Carole demonstrate by making such a transformational gift,” said Dr. David S. Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System. “What could be more appropriate than for the new medical education building to bear the name of the man whose leadership and foresight helped create what is now the J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center?”

Conditions and terms of the gift agreement require that the amount remain confidential.

Harrell, who was hired in 1954 to design and develop the college, handpicked its first group of students and faculty. During his 10 years at UF, Harrell emphasized the importance of training physicians to understand and care for the entire patient.

He advocated training students in small groups to prepare them to work effectively as part of multidisciplinary health care teams, which are key concepts proposed for the College of Medicine’s revised curriculum. The new building will be designed to accommodate this style of learning as well as provide access to advanced technology and simulation.

In addition to naming the new facility, the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building, the College of Medicine also will establish the H. James Free, M.D., Center for Primary Care Education and Innovation. The center’s purpose will be to encourage students to enter and remain in primary care careers, to improve health outcomes for the underserved and ultimately to support the college’s objective to graduate medical professionals with best-in-class skills and motivations to deliver the highest patient care standards.

“Dr. Free has practiced medicine for more than five decades in a truly compassionate and thoughtful manner,” said Dr. Michael L. Good, dean of the College of Medicine. “He is an excellent role model for our medical students, both in his demonstration of exceptional patient care and in his extraordinary service to his community and now to his alma mater. We are honored and deeply grateful for the gift he and his wife make today.”