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New, Whiddon College of Medicine building rising on University of South Alabama campus

Construction is underway on the new college of medicine building at the University of South Alabama (USA) that will lead to more physicians graduating and expanded research.

The $200 million, 250,000-square-foot Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine building is slated for completion in 2026. It will join the medical education hub on USA’s campus that includes the College of Nursing, the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions, the Health Simulation Building and the Charles M. Baugh Biomedical Library.

When the new building opens, more than 500,000 square feet of campus facilities will be dedicated to healthcare education and research, USA officials said.

“This facility will offer our future students the most advanced learning and research opportunities anywhere in the country,” USA President Jo Bonner said during a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the building. “It will transform medicine to the unique needs of our community while educating and training the next generation of providers.”

The new building will feature state-of-the-art research laboratory spaces and allow the college to expand class size for first-year medical students from 80 to 100, with plans to ultimately expand capacity to 120.

“This is an investment in the future of healthcare to meet the needs of Alabamians,” said Dr. John Marymont, dean of the Whiddon College of Medicine and USA’s vice president for medical affairs.

“By national metrics, this medical school produces high-quality physicians that stay in the state, helping meet the needs in primary care as well as in rural and underserved areas, at an affordable cost,” Marymont said.

The Whiddon College of Medicine is one of 158 accredited MD-granting institutions in the U.S. and one of only two in the state. More than 1,139 of its graduates are practicing medicine in Alabama.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the college consistently ranks in the top tier nationally for graduates practicing in underserved areas.

Gov. Kay Ivey, University of South Alabama officials and other Mobile-area dignitaries take part in the groundbreaking for the new medical school building. (contributed)

Multiple public and private sources contributed financially to the project. In one of his final acts as a U.S. senator, Richard Shelby of Alabama set aside $60 million in federal appropriations for the new facility.

The state contributed $50 million in support of the project, while the USA Foundation contributed $30 million.

“Alabama proudly recognizes the value of the Whiddon College of Medicine,” said Gov. Kay Ivey, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony. She said the project is “further positioning one of our state’s premier institutions to connect our people with the care they need.

“From larger cohorts to greater research capabilities, this new facility will take an already excellent program to the next level,” Ivey said.

Other public sources for the project include the city of Mobile, which has pledged $10 million, and Mobile County, which has pledged $5 million. The Alabama Power Foundation, The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, the J.L. Bedsole Foundation, the Daniel Foundation of Alabama and others also have given “transformational gifts” toward the project, USA officials said. Multiple individual donors also have contributed.

“We made a call for support to provide a building to match the quality of our students’ education,” Bonner said. “Their action shows that they understand the critical value an academic health system brings to its local community and throughout the state.”

USA officials have set an additional $30 million philanthropic goal to see the project through to completion.

The USA College of Medicine admitted its first class in 1973, a decade after the university was established. The medical school’s first dedicated building opened in 1974. Today, USA and the affiliated USA Health system have more than 11,000 employees.

A version of this story originally appeared on the University of South Alabama website.