The UCF College of Medicine held its first formal event at the new medical education building Tuesday with a reception honoring 242 volunteer faculty members who taught and mentored first-year students and advised our curriculum and admissions committees.

The reception included a cocktail reception and tours of the new building for local volunteers whom Dean Deborah German described as a “community of people willing to step up to the plate and make this very vibrant medical school a reality.”

The recognized volunteer faculty members interviewed prospective students, developed the college’s curriculum, taught courses, advised students on their research projects and served as mentors and preceptors for the charter class from August 2009 until May 2010.

In thanking the physicians, Student Body President Keith Connolly spoke of his own mentor who “taught me how to think like a doctor” and said he and his classmates were grateful to have received the volunteers’ experience, training, inspiration and passion. “Thank you from all of the students,” he said.

The audience, who heard the college’s thanks in the new first-year classroom, was obviously moved by Keith’s remarks. “You see why we’re here?” Dr. Richard Peppler, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs reminded the group.

Several volunteer faculty members said they valued the opportunity to help select and train the next generation of doctors. Dr. Paul Sovran, an internal medicine and geriatric specialist, helped interview prospective students for the first-year class. He said it’s difficult to describe what makes someone a good and caring doctor, but “you recognize it when you see it” adding that he was delighted how many members of the UCF charter class had those special traits.

In addition to interviewing M.D. Program applicants, Dr. William DeCampli, a pediatric cardiac surgeon, helped develop portions of the second-year curriculum. He said working at the UCF College of Medicine filled a void he experienced when he left academia. “UCF was the answer,” he said. “It’s delightful and exhilarating to be back working with students.”