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History of the School of Medicine

Discover the history of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, a Midwestern pioneer in medical education.

The KU School of Medicine can trace its origins back to one course offered in 1880. From there, a reputation of scientific discovery, outstanding clinical programs and an ongoing dedication to community service was built.

1880 - The University of Kansas began offering a "Preparatory Medical Course." The mostly symbolic move didn't provide clinical training and students had to complete their degrees elsewhere.

1905 - The School of Medicine officially opened on Sept. 6 and began providing instruction at the Bell Memorial Hospital in Rosedale, Kansas. The school lacked clinical facilities, an adequate budget and political support, but the new school had an impressive corps of talented physician-educators. Its early presence proved to be a springboard toward long-term success.

1924 - The new School of Medicine opened in 1924 in its current location, 39th Street and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas, after decades of disagreements about the school's location.

1940 - An infusion of New Deal programs helped the campus boom, adding nine large medical buildings.

1948 - Dean Franklin D. Murphy, M.D., pitched a plan to state legislators to vastly expanded the Medical Center facilities. In return, the school would graduate 25 percent more doctors and encourage them to choose rural practice.

1950s - The "Murphy Plan" launched a metamorphosis in the 1950s and 1960s with even more campus growth, record enrollments, the highest operating budgets in the school's history and changes in curriculum.

1962 - All four years of medical school were taught in Kansas City.

As dean of the School of Medicine (1952-60) and KU chancellor (1960-69), Dr. W. Clarke Wescoe's tireless vision and loyalty laid the groundwork for the school's consistent national reputation for top quality education and research.

Under his leadership, postgraduate medical education was expanded tremendously; mental health and treatment became a major priority; millions of dollars in grants funded research on cancer, heart disease, polio and other illnesses; and new teaching technology, such as endoscopic television cameras, was introduced.

1971 - KU extended its reach in Kansas, establishing a community-based clinical campus in Wichita.

2007 - The school celebrated the opening of the $52 million Robert E. Hemenway Life Sciences Innovation Center, attracting millions in grant funding and some of the nation's top researchers.

2008 - The Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation was established to hasten the discovery and development of new drugs and medical devices.

2011 - A new campus opened in Salina, advancing the mission to produce primary-care doctors for underserved areas.

2017 - The new 170,000-foot Health Education Building (HEB) opened its doors for the 2017-2018 academic year. The state-of-the-art facility serves as the primary teaching facility for the KU schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions.

Today, along with great strides come high expectations. Boasting a patient-centered curriculum and high-caliber physicians and researchers, the School of Medicine is committed to furthering its tradition of reaching the pinnacle of medical education in the United States -- always delivering quality instruction, innovative research and superb patient care.

KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
School of Medicine
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160