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San Francisco: Historical Overview

Early History
The history of the San Francisco Medical Center dated from 1864 when Dr. Hugh H. Toland founded the Toland Medical College. Although the second medical school to be established in the west, it was the oldest in continuous operation. In 1873, this college, under the leadership of Dean R. Beverly Cole, became the Medical Department of the University of California.

Colleges are Formed
The California College of Pharmacy was organized at San Francisco in 1872. Even before its inauguration exercise of July 9, 1873, the college became affiliated with the University. The arrangement permitted the college to maintain its own board of trustees and business management. This relationship continued until 1934 when the college became an integral part of the University.

In 1881, the College of Dentistry was established in a symbolic relationship with the Medical Department, sharing its physical plant as well as four of its faculty members. For a decade the two schools occupied common quarters; however, in 1891 the dental faculty sought larger quarters and separated its teaching activities from the Medical School.

In the 1890's, the Medical Department and Colleges of Pharmacy and Dentistry were housed in privately owned buildings in downtown San Francisco. But just before the turn of the century, Dr. Cole obtained sufficient support from the legislature to construct on the present site of the Medical Center, three large Romanesque buildings to house these "affiliated" colleges. The land for this undertaking was a gift of Adolph Sutro, mayor of San Francisco.

During the San Francisco earthquake and fire most of the city's hospitals were destroyed, giving rise to a serious shortage of medical facilities. The Affiliated Colleges, which survived the calamity, rose to the occasion. The College of Medicine transferred the first two years of instruction to the Berkeley campus, making room for the first University Hospital and a training school for nurses. This endeavor was the forerunner of the present School of Nursing which was established by the Regents on March 17, 1939. Ten years later, its faculty was given full academic status in the University.

University Hospital and Other Facilities
Although the first University Hospital began operation in 1907, it soon became apparent that further hospital accommodations would be required to meet the increased demand for clinical facilities. Dr. Herbert C. Moffitt, dean of the School of Medicine, was successful in obtaining funds from private sources for the construction of the University of California Hospital which opened its doors in 1917.

The next addition to the clinical facilities was the Clinics Building which was constructed under a work program of the state and opened in 1934. The Herbert C. Moffitt Hospital opened in 1955 and the Medical Sciences Building was completed in 1958.

Two other movements resulted in additional facilities for the Medical Center. The first was begun in 1921 by the Associated Dental Students under the leadership of its president, Willard C. Fleming, who became dean of the School of Dentistry in 1939 and continued to serve in that capacity until 1965. Encouraged by Dean Guy S. Millberry, the students built a shack for use as a cafeteria. This venture proved successful and the dental students went on to establish the Dental Supply Store in 1925. These two projects eventually came under the management of Dr. George Steninger, a graduate of the class of 1925, who set up what amounted to a one-man drive to receive gifts from the alumni of all four schools and raised funds which, when matched by the Regents and added to the profits from the cafeteria and store were sufficient to begin construction of the Guy S. Millberry Union, which opened in 1958.

The second movement aimed at expanding facilities was begun by Dean Langley Porter of the School of Medicine, who prevailed upon the California Department of Mental Hygiene to affiliate with the University and construct a neuropsychiatric clinic near the Medical Center; the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute was opened in 1943.

The University Develops
With the completion of Millberry Union and the Medical Sciences Building in 1958, the interrelationship of the four schools became a reality in practice as well as theory. In Millberry Union, the students and faculty shared social, cultural, and recreational facilities; in the Medical Sciences Building, they shared classrooms and lecture facilities as well as some basic science instruction. Further unification of the schools had begun in 1947 with the formation of Associated Students of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

The bonds between the clinical and basic sciences were cemented by the establishment of the Graduate Division in 1961. Also on campus were nine organized research units which dealt with specialized aspects of the health sciences that were interdisciplinary in nature. In addition, research was conducted by staff members of every school and department and in several special units and laboratories.

The First Chancellor
The San Francisco Medical Center took its place alongside the other campuses of the University in 1964 with the designation of its provost, John B. deC. M. Saunders, as chancellor. To assure optimal use of resources, the campus engaged in extensive academic and fiscal planning. As a result, it became possible to prepare a Long Range Development Plan for physical growth on the San Francisco campus. This plan provided for two modern towers for teaching and research, as well as plans for administration and other buildings to be constructed in the future.

UCSF in the 1960's
By the 1960's, the San Francisco Medical Center faced a future that might include an expanded role in which the San Francisco campus would have an initial commitment to the concept of man as a biologic entity and of the city as a meaningful unit.

In this way the strength of the existing San Francisco Medical Center in the health sciences and the resources of the city, construed as a laboratory for social and artistic study, could be brought to bear upon a better understanding of the pressing problems of modern man in his urban environment. The University and the city could interpenetrate each other to their mutual benefit. The San Francisco campus might thus attempt to effect a valid integration of modern physics with the biological and social sciences.


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Last updated 06/18/04.