Skip to main content.

Department celebrates 75th anniversary

The Department of Psychiatry was officially formed in 1946.

The year 1946 provided its share of interesting events and important milestones.  

Chemist Earl Silas Tupper invented Tupperware. The first U.S. rocket left the Earth’s atmosphere (50 miles up). Famous baseball player Jackie Robinson made his professional debut as a second baseman for the Montreal Royals. Warner Brothers cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn debuted in “Walky Talky Hawky.”

It’s also the year the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences was officially formed. It was an important extension and recognition of the specialty, which has enjoyed a continuous presence on the campus since the KU School of Medicine opened its doors in 1905.

“I hope that you can see your way clear to accept this challenging position…,” wrote B. R. Wahl, M.D., then dean of the School of Medicine in a letter to William F. Roth, Jr., M.D., at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, outlining an exciting job opportunity as head of the newly created department. The role included supervision of the psychiatric ward, general oversight of courses in neuro-psychiatry and forging a relationship with other departments.

As history tells us, Roth did, indeed, accept the position and went on to lay a solid foundation, ripe with promise and potential. Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, the department is hardly recognizable compared to its modest beginnings. Psychiatry has grown from a single faculty member in 1945 to more than 50 and counting today. Residency training programs for physicians began with general psychiatry in 1950 and child psychiatry in 1960, while the modern program for psychologists was established in 2003. The department has expanded from its first home on Goat Hill, into Olathe Pavilion in 1956 on the main campus and then expanding to also include the Marillac and Strawberry Hill campuses during the past 10 years.

To commemorate Roth’s legacy, the department annually hosts the Roth Lecture as part of its activities during graduation week.

“The independent department has continued to prosper and do well and it happens because of all of you who make day-in-and-day-out progress in taking care of people, educating the next generation and improving the future,” said William Gabrielli, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., current chair of the department during the department’s annual celebration earlier this year.

Given the dedication and excellence always on display from faculty, staff and other contributors, there’s no doubt the department is well on its way to 75 more years of grand success and greater achievements.



Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

University of Kansas Medical Center
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Mailstop 4015
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160
Phone: 913-588-6400
Fax: 913-588-6414