Dr. G. Richard Olds, dean of the new UC Riverside School of Medicine
The new medical school’s 50 students began classes Aug. 12, after a week-long orientation that ended with a ceremony during which each student was presented with a white coat, according to a published report. Medical school classes were previously taught at UC Riverside as part of cooperative arrangement the school had with UCLA, but this marks the first time the school has had a medical school of its own.
The idea of a medical school at UC Riverside has been around for years, but support for the idea dropped among lawmakers in Sacramento when the recession hit in 2008. However, local officials raised about $100 million to get the project started, enough to operate the medical school for 10 years at reduced capacity, according to the report. During the medical school’s opening ceremony, Dr. G. Richard Olds, the school’s dean, told the crowd of about 500 people that a diverse group of people and organizations in and out of the Inland Empire helped make the medical school happen.
In particular, Olds credited State Senator Richard Roth and Assemblyman Jose Medina, both Riverside Democrats, with getting $15 million for the school included yearly in the state’s budget, according to the report. The beginnings of a medical school at UC Riverside can be traced to the mid-1970s, when Jerry Brown was in his first tenure as governor.
The school started a biomedical sciences program, which was popular but was denied funding by the state legislature because of fears that it would grow into a medical school. At the time, some lawmakers believed the state couldn’t have afforded to support a new medical school.
Ultimately, an arrangement was made between UC Riverside and UCLA, in which pre-medical school students who had received their undergraduate degrees from UC Riverside attended medical school classes on the Riverside campus. After that, eligible students moved to the medical school at UCLA where they completed their clinical clerkships for their M.D. degrees. Those degrees were awarded by UCLA. While it did produce some successful doctors, the shared arrangement with the larger campus to the north didn’t do enough to benefit Riverside County.