Photo of new education building © UC Regents

View a slideshow of the grand opening event.

School of medicine's new facility offers the best in learning and teaching

Ushering in a new era in medical education, more than 500 people, including students, faculty and community leaders celebrated the grand opening of UC Davis' new Education Building and the F. William Blaisdell, M.D., Medical Library in Sacramento on December 11, 2006.

In a festive ribbon-cutting event that also featured Scottish bagpipers, heart-felt speeches and student-guided tours, UC Davis officially opened the doors to a gleaming four-story facility located in the heart of its Sacramento campus.

One Location

Classes begin in early January, marking the first time in the school's history that that all four years of the UC Davis School of Medicine will receive instruction in a single location in the same city.

The $46 million structure replaces outdated classrooms and offices in Davis and will now serve as the learning hub for nearly 400 students and more than 500 faculty members.

Historically, first-and second-year medical students studied on the Davis campus, while third- and fourth-year students — along with residents and fellows — received most of their training at the medical center in Sacramento. It was a physical separation that students even joked about.

Amy Harley, a third-year medical student who spoke at the grand opening, prompted laughs from the crowd when she mentioned that because of the historic separation, “first-year students feel like they know their cadaver in gross anatomy lab better than they know the students in the classes above them.”

Ideal learning environment

Harley says the new building is truly designed to create the ideal learning environment with high-tech classrooms, fully functioning mock-exam areas and spacious lecture halls - not to mention a good way to bring everyone together in one place.

Photo of medical students in new library © UC Regents
Students take advantage of the new library's comfortable surroundings and natural light. 

“The real gift of this place,” she told the audience, “is not its glass, or concrete, paint or carpet. It is the ability to gather with our fellow medical students and learn together with people throughout the health system. It is a place that will help us be the kind of doctors we aspire to be.”

While the Sacramento facility becomes the academic home for all four years of medical school, students will continue to participate in research programs and collaborate with academic units on the Davis campus.

State-of-the-art amenities

Designed to accommodate the school's modern curriculum, the education building includes a library, two 150-seat lecture halls, 60- and 30-seat classrooms, a clinical skills center, multiple 12- and 16-seat teaching rooms, and a student commons area that includes lockers, mailboxes, a lounge, study areas and a café.

It is equipped with the latest educational and communications technologies, from wireless connectivity to high-quality projection and video streaming. Videoconferencing and distance learning technologies link students and faculty with the main hospital, UC Davis campus, regional centers, rural sites and other institutions nationwide, allowing students to monitor and learn from live surgeries, telemedicine consultations and other doctor-patient interactions.

Noé Gutierrez, a second-year medical student from the Yolo County town of Winters, said the move to the new building was extremely exciting. Although he majored in computer science as an undergrad, high-tech elements are just part of the benefits he sees in the new facility.

“It's not just a 21st Century, state-of-the-art building,” said Gutierrez. “It will allow us to have more interaction and exposure on the clinical side too, opportunities that aren't available in Davis.”

A piece of history

Moments before the actual ribbon-cutting ceremony, the school of medicine's historic plane tree — said to be a descendant of the same tree under which the father of medicine, Hippocrates, lectured his disciples in ancient Greece — also got some recognition, despite its diminutive, sapling size.

"It will not always be that small," noted Dave Burger, a UC Davis plant sciences professor.

Burger, who grew the sapling from cuttings originating off the plane tree at the school of medicine site in Davis, emphasized that the symbolic tree “will grow just as the importance of this building will grow" in the coming years.

And with the cutting of the ribbon, cheers from the crowd ushered in the next stage in the growth of the UC Davis School of Medicine.