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Chapter XXII. Medical College of the Pacific Established in 1872 and National Efforts to Reform Medical Education

Medical College of the Pacific Established in 1872 and National Efforts to Reform Medical Education

During the critical decade from 1864 to 1873, the Cooper school was suspended and revived; the Toland school was founded and its adoption by the University of California finally arranged. Having completed a summary of these events, we can now relate how the revived Cooper school became the Medical College of the Pacific in 1872, and retained that name until it was succeeded by the Cooper Medical College in 1882. It was during the tenure of the Medical College of the Pacific that reform of American medical education became increasingly an issue of national concern to the medical profession.


Affiliation with University (City) College

Renting of Facilities

At the meeting in Dr. Gibbons' office on 23 May 1870, convened for the purpose of reviving the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific, Dr. Cole remarked that to compete with the Toland School it was necessary to have comparable facilities. It would scarcely do, he said, to have the lecture room in one part of the city, the dissecting room in another and the clinic in a third. The three should be concentrated in the same vicinity.

It was pointed out that the Chapel and adjacent College building of University (City) College, a Presbyterian school founded in 1860, were ideally suited to the needs of the Medical Department. They were located in the center of San Francisco at the corner of Stockton and Geary Streets, opposite Union Square which is still a well-known landmark in the city. Furthermore, the science laboratory of the College, under the charge of Professor Price, was near the College building and could be used to demonstrate the principles discussed in the chemical lectures. [1]

Fortunately, Professor Price, Chairman of the Faculty's Committee on Rooms, was able to report to the Faculty on June 6th that the College Chapel had been engaged so that the Annual Lecture Course for the Session of 1870 could begin in the Chapel on July 5th as scheduled.

Prior to the next Session, that of 1871, rooms in the College Building were rented for the Lectures and for the purpose of establishing a Dispensary. In order to accommodate these activities, the Faculty paid for the necessary remodeling of the College building, the first of many renovations to be subsidized by the Faculty in the years ahead. [2] [3] [4]

Medical College of the Pacific Established in 1872

Renting and renovating the College building, combined with access to the adjoining science laboratory of Professor Price, provided the medical school with centralized and very serviceable quarters. In the course of making these arrangements, a cordial relationship developed between the Trustees of University (City) College and the Faculty of the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific, facilitated by the fact that Professor Price was a member of the Faculties of both. During the Session for 1871 the College facilities proved so convenient and the Trustees so cooperative that the Medical Faculty on 25 January 1872 designated Professors Price, Lane and Gibbons, Sr., as a committee to explore with the Trustees the possibility of transferring the Medical Department to University (City) College. The response from the Trustees being prompt and favorable, the Faculty voted unanimously on 2 March 1872 to complete forthwith all necessary procedures whereby they would withdraw from the University of the Pacific and be constituted thereafter as the "Medical College of the Pacific, being the Medical Department of University College." [5]

Total Graduates: Medical Department, University of the Pacific. During the existence of the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific from 1859 through 1871, the number of graduates was as follows: [6]

1859 2
1860 1
1861 5
1862 5
1863 8
1864 7
1870 8
1871 8
Total: 44

The Annual Announcement for the Session of 1872 carried the following explanation of the change in title and sponsorship of the school: [7]

The Faculty of the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific take pleasure in announcing that they have formed a connection with University (City) College of San Francisco, and that their school will henceforth be known as The Medical College of the Pacific.

The reasons for this change have been entirely satisfactory to all parties concerned. The connection of the School with the University of the Pacific, the oldest Collegiate Institution on this Coast, has always been a source of pride and gratification to the Faculty, and has also been esteemed a high honor; and the connection would not have been severed without the consent of the University, and without important advantages to be gained by the change. The most important of these is the securing of a permanent building and location, in the most convenient and eligible situation in San Francisco. The location is in the heart of the city, central to travel and to business, and almost directly opposite to Union Square. The grounds, which are the same as occupied by University College, are forever dedicated to educational purposes. Without this fortunate affiliation, the Faculty would have been under the necessity of erecting buildings somewhere on the outskirts, much less acceptable to students.

University College, which has been in existence thirteen years, is one of the most flourishing educational institutions on the Pacific Coast. Besides the Buildings and Schools at the corner of Stockton and Geary Streets, it owns a valuable property at University Mound, five miles from the center of the city, on which it has erected extensive buildings, and established a Preparatory School which is in a prosperous condition.

The Trustees. . . are among our best and most influential citizens (and include Henry H. Haight, Esq., Governor of California 1867-1871). [8] These gentlemen are not trustees in name only but they are active and zealous in the performance of their duties, and exhibit a deep personal interest in every department of the Institution under their charge. Their object is to build up a University in every sense of the word, with all the departments proper to such an establishment, and to place it in the van of the educational institutions of the Pacific Coast. Under these auspicious circumstances the permanence and success of the Medical College of the Pacific are insured.

The school, which now takes the title of the Medical College of the Pacific, was organized in 1858, and is consequently by far the oldest Medical School on the Western Coast of America. Most of the Professors are experienced and successful teachers, whose devotion to the cause of medical education is attested by the arduous and unrequited labor which was required to build up a College from the scanty materials of a newly settled country. The Faculty refer with pride to the professional careers of its Graduates, who have uniformly reflected credit on the Institution, and on the profession.

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