Medical School (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

Bentley Historical Library banner

Medical School (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

This Deep Blue collection forms part of a larger Medical School record group held at the Bentley Historical Library. For a complete index of archival materials related to the University of Michigan Medical School, please consult the following online finding aids:

Researchers may also be interested in additional materials found in the University of Michigan Web Archives:

For more information or assistance, contact Reference and Access Services at the Bentley Historical Library.

The University of Michigan's first professional school; the Medical School record group includes historical and administrative records related to the school and its faculty and administrators.

While the University of Michigan's charters of 1817 and 1837 both called for the inclusion of medical education within the curriculum, no action was taken to carry out this mandate until 1848. On January 19 of that year the regents appropriated funds for the construction of a building to house a new Medical Department. In the fall of 1850, when the building was completed, the first courses in medicine were taught.

Throughout the nineteenth century the school grew and matured. The period of study lengthened, the number and type of courses grew, the quality of the students improved, and the administration of the college became more sophisticated. The length of study was increased repeatedly. In 1877-1878, the regents required of any student wishing to receive a medical degree one full academic year of study. At the same time an optional three year program was established. In 1880-1881, the three-year program was made mandatory, and in 1890-1891, the mandatory program was lengthened to four years.

The administration of the school remained vested in elected deans until 1891. In that year the regents amended their bylaws, giving themselves exclusive power to appoint deans. The effect of this decision on the Medical School was to strengthen the dean's position. Between 1850 and 1891 seven men served thirteen terms of office as dean, the average term in office lasting slightly more than three years. The regents' first appointed Dean of the Medical School, Victor C. Vaughan, held the position for thirty years.

While Michigan remained a leader in medical education after Vaughan's retirement, the faculty was divided by a bitter factional dispute centering around Vaughan's successor as dean, Hugh Cabot. Cabot, a Harvard educated surgeon who had served at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1902 to 1919, proved unable to deal with the situation. Dissension reached the point at which several key faculty members believed the school's continuing success depended upon Cabot's removal as dean. In February 1930 the regents " the interests of greater harmony in the Medical School," removed Cabot from his position as dean and authorized the president of the university to appoint a committee of five to direct the affairs of the school.

In 1935, a permanent replacement for Cabot was appointed. Perhaps reacting to both the failure of the outsider Cabot and the success of the University of Michigan schooled Vaughan, an internal candidate was chosen as dean. Albert C. Furstenberg had received virtually all of his medical experience at Michigan. The university had awarded him his medical degree in 1915, and he subsequently joined the Medical School's faculty. Furstenberg's appointment did little to rein in the virtually independent faculty. The Executive Committee continued to meet regularly, and the various departments, which had always acted with independence, now possessed virtual sovereignty. Throughout his tenure as dean, Furstenberg exercised his authority with needed diplomacy.

To meet the increasing demands for education, and to staff a vastly increased research program, faculty size grew dramatically. In 1940, the Medical School had approximately 140 faculty members. In 1971, there were 578 faculty members. Physical facilities also grew. Eight major construction projects were undertaken between 1947 and 1955. Between 1955 and 1970 another fourteen projects were undertaken, including the Kresge Research addition (1964), Medical Science II (1969), Towsley Center (1970) and C.S. Mott Children's Hospital (1970). Throughout the 1970s planning was undertaken for the construction of a new University Hospital to replace the often renovated structure constructed in 1925. The Replacement Hospital Project dominated thinking throughout the decade.

In 1959, Furstenberg was succeeded as dean by William N. Hubbard, Jr. Hubbard had received his medical training in New York City, and had continued to reside there, serving as an associate dean of the New York University College of Medicine, until his appointment as dean in Ann Arbor. He quickly expanded the administrative structure of his predecessor, appointing a new assistant dean and adding three new assistants to the dean. Following a sweeping reform of the entire hospital hill complex's administration in 1969, Hubbard was replaced as dean by John A. Gronvall (who was also named director of the Medical Center) in 1970. In 1974, The Medical Center as an administrative entity was abolished, and Dean Gronvall was no longer required to exercise direct administrative oversight of hospital operations.

In 1982, Dean Gronvall resigned from his position as dean and Peter A. Ward served as interim dean from 1982 to 1985. At this time, President Shapiro recommended changes to the administration so that the dean of the Medical School and the executive director of the University Hospital would report to a new vice provost for medical affairs (later a vice provost for health affairs) who in turn would report to the vice president for academic affairs and provost.

In 1985, Joseph E. Johnson was named as dean of the Medical School. Johnson remained until 1990, after which Giles Bole served first as acting dean, then as dean, from 1991 to 1996, when he was succeeded by Lorris Betz as interim dean. In 1998 Allen S. Lichter succeeded Betz as interim dean before being appointed dean. Dr. James O. Woolliscroft was appointed dean of the Medical School in 2007 following Lichter's retirement.

Please note:

Copyright held by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Recent Deposits RSS Feed

View more

Search Deep Blue

Advanced Search

Browse by

My Account


Coming Soon

MLibrary logo