The AHC History Project is about to launch an oral history project to work in tandem with the archives portion. The oral historian will hold a tenure-track, assistant professor position in the History of Medicine program. The focus of the oral histories will be on the individuals who participated in the formation and development of the AHC, its six schools and colleges, hospitals and clinics, and research centers. This will be a great opportunity for a scholar interested in the changes to medical education, research, patient care, and health policies during the latter half of the 20th century.
The origin of today’s Medical School at the University of Minnesota dates back to the formation of the University in 1851. The territorial act establishing the University provided for a Department of Medicine, however, it was not created until 1882.
The Department of Medicine was not a teaching department but rather a credentialing board that provided examinations and conferred MDs upon physicians who had learned to practice medicine by studying with a preceptor.
In April 1887, Percy Millard, Charles Hewitt, D. Hand, and President Cyrus Northrop presented to the Board of Regents their request to abolish the Department of Medicine and replace it with a new department that would consist of the College of Medicine and Surgery, the College of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery, and the College of Dentistry. The Regents approved of the reorganization of the Department of Medicine in February 1888. The first class began in October 1888.
As part of the approval process, the Regents specified the admission requirements for the Department of Medicine. Students were evaluated by
1. Writing legibly and correctly an English composition of not less than two hundred words.
2. Translation of easy Latin prose, or, in lieu thereof, by passing an approved examination in any one of the following subjects: French, German, or one of the Scandinavian languages.
3. Passing an examination upon either of the elements of Algebra, Plane Geometry, or Botany.
4. Showing such a knowledge of Physics as may be obtained from the study of Balfour Stewart’s Elements of Physics.
However, examinations were not required for matriculated students or graduates of any reputable college, high school, or normal school, nor of persons holding a first-class teacher’s certificate or certificate of the State High School Board.
By contrast, today’s admission requirements are a little more demanding.
Select the image above to see the full page from the April 26, 1888 minutes.
Dr. Erwin Schaffer, dean of the School for Dentistry from 1964 to 1977, passed away on December 25, 2007. Dean Schaffer’s tenure at the School of Dentistry served as the basis for the growth of the School and its many programs and research initiatives including geriatric dentistry and cleft palate prevention.
Appointed in 1964 by then President O. Meredith Wilson, Dean Schaffer was a part of the reformation of the health sciences and long range planning for health education at the University. After chairing the Division of Periodontology for seven years, his leadership helped to transform the free-standing School of Dentistry into one of the six schools and colleges of the AHC focused on research and clinical education. He also helped oversee the physical expansion of the School of Dentistry through planning and fundraising efforts for the construction of Unit A Health Science Tower (later renamed Moos Tower).
A memo written shortly after Dr. Schaffer’s appointment in October 1964 captures the enthusiasm many felt for the new dean’s plans. The memo highlights Dean Schaffer’s vision of preventive dentistry as the next building block to the School’s already established restorative program. Read the full memo below.