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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

School of Medicine:
Deans of the Faculty of the School of Medicine

J.M. Duffin researched the pre-1823 history of the Faculty of Penn's School of Medicine to provide a list of the deans in this early period as well as to prepare this introduction.

INTRODUCTION

A Faculty of Medicine was established at the College of Philadelphia in 1765 and continued without interruption in 1779, when the College became the University of the State of Pennsylvania and again, in 1791, when the institution took its present name, the University of Pennsylvania. A careful examination of eighteenth century College and University records, however, reveals that the title of Dean of the Faculty of Medicine was not used by the Trustees of the University or by the medical faculty themselves until October 1800.1 Beginning in 1800 and continuing through 1819 the title of Dean of the faculty rotated annually among the professors. Then, in March 1819, the faculty formally established the office of Dean and also agreed that the appointment should extend for an indefinite term of years.2 The present study has successfully identified the Deans of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania for the period 1800 through 1822.

The first reference to a Dean of the School of Medicine was found in a letter of Dr. Caspar Wistar to the Trustees of the University written in October 1800. In the letter, Wistar signs his name and adds, "Dean of the faculty." In succeeding year the evidence cited below demonstrates that the title of Dean in this early period was held for one year only, that it rotated among the medical professors annually. The faculty formalized this arrangement in October 1812 (see citation below). Seven years later the faculty decided that the "continual change" of the title and the responsibilities that with it created "difficulties" which could be mitigated by extending the term of the deanship beyond one year (see citation below).

 

Citations for Medical Faculty Decisions Regarding the Position of Dean:

10 October 1812

"A resolution was adopted unanimously, that in future, the office of Dean of the Faculty shall pass to the next Professor in rotation, within two weeks from the period of the public Commencement, within which time, it shall be the duty of the Dean, before transmitting the Book of Minutes to his Successor, to publish an accurate list of the Graduates & of the subject of their respective Dissertations."

Minutes of the Medical Faculty, Vol. 2, p. 13 (UPA 3 Pre1820, Document 1476)

20 March 1819

"At a meeting of the Medical Faculty, present, all the Professors, the difficulties attending the deanship, in consequence of the continual change of the Dean, suggested the propriety of making it permanent, in one person – with a salary for the same – Three hundred dollars were proposed as the Sum – & agreed to unanimously. Dr. Coxe accepted the appointment with the proviso, after engaging in it for 2 or 3 years, to decline its continuance, if he should be include so to do. The usual course of rotation, then to take place – as formerly agreed to"

Minutes of the Medical Faculty, Vol. 2, p. 61 (UPA 3 Pre1820, Document 1476)

 

 

LIST OF DEANS OF THE FACULTY OF MEDICINE, 1800 TO THE PRESENT

The list of Deans which follows below was compiled from the historical collections of the University Archives. In some cases, as noted, the position is inferred from the role the individual held as the communicator of medical faculty proposals and decisions to the Trustees – a role which those who are explicitly named as Dean during this period filled.

1800-1801

Caspar Wistar3

1801-1802

James Woodhouse4

1802-1803

Benjamin Smith Barton5

1803-1804

James Woodhouse6

1804-1805

Benjamin Rush7

1805-1806

Caspar Wistar8

1806-1807

James Woodhouse9

1807-1808

Benjamin Smith Barton10

1808-1809

Philip Syng Physick11

1809-1810

John Syng Dorsey12

1810-1811

Caspar Wistar13

1811-1812

Benjamin Smith Barton14

1812-1813

John Redman Coxe15

1813-1814

John Syng Dorsey16

1814-1815

Nathaniel Chapman17

1815-1816

Thomas Chalkley James18

1816-1817

Caspar Wistar19

1817-1818

Nathaniel Chapman20

1818-1822

John Redman Coxe21

1822-1852

William Edmonds Horner

1852-1856

Joseph Carson

1856-1877

Robert E. Rogers

1877-1888

Joseph Leidy

1888-1892

James Tyson

1892-1902

John Marshall

1902-1909

Charles Harrison Frazier

1909-1912

Allen J. Smith

1912-1945

William Pepper III

1945-1948

Isaac Starr

1948-1962

John McK. Mitchell

1962-1968

Samuel Gurin

1968-1973

Alfred A. Gellhorn

1974-1988

Edward Stemmler

1989-2000

William N. Kelley

2001-2011

Arthur H. Rubenstein

2011-

J. Larry Jameson

Notes

1. The search included a careful reading of the minute books of both the Trustees of the University and the medical faculty, as well as supporting documentation of the actions of the Trustees, from 1791 to 1820.

2. The modern practice of naming a Dean – nomination by the President and Provost and election by the Trustees – was introduced in 1888 (Minutes of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania vol. 12, p. 377 [3 April 1888]).

3. In October 1800 Wistar signs as “Dean of the faculty” in petition to the Board of Trustees (Document 1475, p. 25, General Administration Records, UPA 3, Pre-1820 [hereafter referred to as GAR]); also in April 1801 (Document 1050, GAR).

4. In March 1802 Woodhouse writes a letter for Medical Faculty to the Trustees, (Document 1475, p. 31, GAR; Board of Trustees Minutes vol. 5, p. 252).

5. In April 1803 Barton sends a request for Medical Faculty to the Trustees from faculty to trustees regarding the examination date for medical students (Document 83, GAR).

6. In March 1804, Woodhouse sends list of medical degree candidates to the Board of Trustees (Document 1475, p. 52, GAR0 and in April 1804 makes request to the Trustees for the Medical Faculty regarding the examination date for medical students (Board of Trustees Minutes, vol. 5, p. 280).

7. In November 1804 Rush is directed by the Medical Faculty to communicate decision to Trustees (Document 1475, p. 55, GAR) and in March 1805 signs a letter to the Trustees as “Dean of the said faculty for the present year” (Document 1475, p. 57, GAR).

8. In April 1806 Wistar signs letter to Trustees as dean (Document 1051, GAR).

9. In April 1807 Woodhouse makes to the Trustees request for the Medical Faculty regarding the examination date for medical students (Document 1065, GAR).  Woodhouse also sends letter in November 1807 for the Medical Faculty to Trustees regarding changes in attendance time for medical students (Document 1066, GAR).

10. In April 1808, Barton makes request to the Trustees for the Medical Faculty regarding the graduation date for medical students (Document 84, GAR).

11. In December 1808 Physick signs letter to Trustees as dean (Document 1475, p. 104, GAR).

12. In December 1809 Dorsey makes request to Trustees for medical faculty decisions regarding rules (Document 335, GAR) and in March 1810 signs a letter as “Dean, pro tem” (Document 337, GAR).

13. Referred to as dean in May 1811 (Documents 1054, 1055, and 1475, p 151, GAR).

14. In March 1812, Barton makes request to the Trustees for the Medical Faculty regarding the graduation date for medical students (Document 85, GAR).

15. Referred to as dean in October 1812 (Document 1476, pp. 14-15, GAR) and March 1813 (Documents 254 and 1475, p. 103, GAR).

16. Referred to as dean in April 1814 (Document 1488, GAR) and also as dean “pro tem” in April 1816 (Document 1574, p. 26, GAR).  It should be noted that the Medical Faculty Minutes from March 1813 have a note at the end of the minute book that John Redman Coxe was going to over the faculty records “to successor, Dr. Physick” (Document 1475, p. 163, GAR).  The next volume of the Medical Faculty Minutes is signed on the title page by “John Redman Coxe, Sec[retar]y” (Document 1476, GAR).  By this point there was a clear distinction between the secretary of the faculty meeting and the dean.

17. Referred to as dean in April 1815 (Document 1574, p. 17, GAR). Referred to as dean in December 1815 (Document 608, GAR) and April 1816 (Document 610, GAR).

18. Referred to as dean in December 1815 (Document 608, GAR) and April 1816 (Document 610, GAR).

19. Referred to as dean in October 1816 (Document 1057, GAR).

20. Referred to as dean in October 1817 (Document 1, GAR).

21. Referred to as dean in November 1818 (Document 1576, p. 59, GAR) and March 1819 (Document 270, GAR).