Chapter 20: Shaping the Medical Center

While the Eastman center of musical culture and education was rising, the U. of R. embarked upon a second gigantic undertaking--the construction of a huge medical complex.

"The School of Medicine and Dentistry," a tablet affixed to a corridor wall of the School informs the passerby, "was established in the University of Rochester in 1920 by the gifts of George Eastman and the General Education Board founded by John D. Rockefeller and is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and to instruction in medicine and dentistry for the promotion of the health and happiness of mankind."

An oak panel over a cheerful fireplace in the reception room of the Strong Memorial Hospital proclaims:

Henry Alvah Strong
Helen Griffin Strong
May the kindliness and human sympathy
which characterized their lives continue
forever through the
ministry of this hospital.

Thus did two daughters, Gertrude Strong Achilles and Helen Strong Carter, who furnished most of the funds to erect the teaching hospital, commemorate their beloved parents. 1

Since Henry A. Strong was a business partner of Eastman, who persuaded the daughters to finance the building of the hospital, the Kodak philanthropist had almost as large a part in the medical as in the musical enterprise. And at his side in both projects was the wise, prudent, and far-seeing Rush Rhees, an unconscious builder of an educational empire.

Apparently it was Eastman's trouble with his teeth that directed his interest toward the health sciences and to improvement in the facilities for the physical well-being of Rochesterians. A skillful dentist, Dr. Harvey J. Burkhardt, remedied the industrialist's malady and fitted him with properly adjusted dentures. Influenced by a group of community-minded dentists and other citizens, the business executive William Bausch leading, and by the success of the charitable Forsyth dental institution in Boston, Eastman, on July 6, 1915, offered to pay the cost of erecting and equipping a Rochester Dental Dispensary. To cover operating expenses of the establishment, whose primary concern would be the care of the teeth of underprivileged children, he pledged $30,000 a year for five years. If the Dispensary fulfilled expectations, he would provide an endowment, the income from which would be supplemented by $10,000 gathered annually from ten other Rochesterians.

Not far from the Prince Street Campus, on a tract of land on Main Street, the managers of the Dispensary (renamed the Eastman Dental Dispensary in 1941 and known after 1965 as the Eastman Dental Center) had a suitable building erected. Burkhardt, who was selected as Director, presided over the formal dedication on May 9, 1917, Rhees taking part, and over the official opening ceremonies on October 15, 1917; two years later Eastman contributed an endowment of $1,000,000. At first, dental hygienists, preparing for prophylactic work in the schools, were given lessons in the University's Catharine Strong Hall. Demonstration dental clinics on the Rochester model, it may be inserted, were subsequently set up by Eastman in five European capitals, with Burkhardt lending his experience in the planning.

When Eastman approached Burkhardt (who habitually referred to the philanthropist as "the boss") on the desirability of having a dental school in Rochester, the Director proposed instead an institution in which dentistry and medicine would be taught in combination. The seed thus planted brought forth a splendid harvest in due season. 2

Onto the Rochester scene at that juncture stepped one of the most astute medical statesmen and administrators the United States has ever produced--Dr. Abraham Flexner, at the time secretary of the Rockefeller General Education Board. He cherished the dictum of René Descartes that "if ever the human race is raised to its highest practicable level intellectually, morally, and physically, the science of medicine will perform that service."

Following an exhaustive investigation of American medical schools, Flexner had published in 1910 a scathing indictment of Medical Education in the United States and Canada (reprinted New York, 1960). The book has been appraised as "a landmark in the history of medical training" in America, "a classic in the literature of education." Out of nearly 150 schools then training physicians, Flexner awarded high marks to only five, the Johns Hopkins in Baltimore heading the list. Four of every five medical schools were so utterly inadequate that they should be closed, Flexner contended, and as a result of his sensational revelations a host of schools actually ceased operation.

Teaching of medicine should be revolutionized, Flexner advocated, by requiring school staffs to devote themselves exclusively to instruction and research, for which they would be reasonably compensated--the "full time" plan it was called. Equipment and laboratory facilities of the highest order of excellence, moreover, should be installed in medical centers. The Johns Hopkins, Yale, and Washington University at St. Louis reformed their medical teaching programs in keeping with the Flexner formula, but Columbia and Cornell shied away, so Flexner surveyed New York State for a community in which a medical school based on his philosophy and designs might be established.

The authorities of Syracuse University Medical School, whose finances were in a shaky condition, tried to gain the blessing of Flexner (and therewith of the General Education Board), but his smile fastened upon Rochester. From his angle of vision, the Flower City was well located geographically and of the proper size for an ideal medical institution since the city had no medical school, there were no traditions, no vested interests that would have to be compromised or thrust aside. Put otherwise, Rochester represented an entirely clean slate on which to write.

Beyond that, Flexner had learned that the quality of the University of Rochester (in reality only a college) was inversely proportional to its size and that Rhees was an academic executive of the first order of ability. And then there was Eastman, whose benevolence in financing educational institutions might be extended to cooperation on behalf of medical science.

Through mutual acquaintances, Flexner got into touch with Rhees and broached his vision of a school of medicine in Rochester. Though completely surprised, the President subsequently let it be known that this was not the first time a U. of R. medical school had been suggested. "But my reply had always been," Rhees stated, "that medical education is the costliest form of professional training, and the University of Rochester is not interested in undertaking such work without resources sufficient to make that work unquestionably of the first class." The President responded sympathetically to the Flexner overture, but he declined to approach Eastman for financial backing; on the other hand, he submitted an outline of Flexner's plan to Eastman and arranged a meeting between the two men on February 2, 1920.

During a prolonged conversation Flexner acquainted Eastman with the gist of his famous report on medical education, explained what had been accomplished at the Johns Hopkins, and sketched the possibilities of an excellent school in Rochester. Discussion continued around the dinner table that evening, Rhees joining in. A healing institution of the finest quality, Eastman appreciated, would make his adopted city a better place in which to live, and, like the music center, would be an asset in attracting and keeping managerial personnel and wageworkers at the Kodak plant.

When Flexner revealed that the project would entail an outlay in excess of $8,000,000, Eastman promised $2,500,000, and Flexner eventually prevailed upon him to raise the sum to $4,000,000. The Rockefeller Board would be requested to supply the rest of the money required.

One day the Kodak industrialist would confess that he had been "hypnotized" by the enthusiastic, level-headed New York medical statesman. Eastman called Flexner "the best salesman I have ever seen," or in a facetious vein , "the worst highwayman that ever flitted in and out of Rochester, He put up a job on me and cleaned me out of a thundering lot of my hard-earned savings." 3

Negotiations proceeded apace. On March 18, 1920, Eastman informed Rhees of the following proposition: "To aid the University to establish a school of medicine, surgery, dentistry, I will turn over to the University 5,000 shares of Eastman Kodak stock [valued at $4,000,000], if you secure the cooperation of the trustees of the Rochester Dental Dispensary in turning over the plant and endowment to the University and secure an additional $5,000,000 for establishing and maintaining said school." It was understood by the donor that his gift would form an endowment, while the expected grant by the General Education Board would cover the costs of construction and equipment. 4

Flexner, who had visited the Dental Dispensary and was impressed by what he saw and heard, accepted the proposal that dentistry as well as medicine should be taught in the projected school, and that the Dispensary should be affiliated in some fashion. (Since Eastman set a value of well over $1,000,000 on the Dispensary, his total commitment exceeded $5,000,000.) Beyond that, Eastman, as already related, prevailed upon the two daughters of Henry A. Strong to donate $1,000,000 for a hospital; it was no easy assignment to win their support and even after pledges had been given misunderstandings arose that had to be tactfully smoothed out. On Flexner's recommendation, the General Education Board pledged $5,000,000 for the great undertaking. 5

At a large dinner party at the Genesee Valley Club on June 11, 1920, attended by some 200 Rochester civic and professional leaders, University trustees and influential physicians and dentists among them, Eastman, Flexner, and Rhees unveiled the epoch-making project for a major center of healing and research. Amidst immense enthusiasm, "a curious mystification" of many weeks duration was cleared up, the press recounted, and new vistas of fame, influence, and beneficence for Rochester were unfolded. Eastman prophesied that the contemplated institution would make the Flower City "a better place in which to bring up a family," and that fees for "talented medical and surgical service" would be nominal.

Flexner, the star of the occasion, recalled in a bit of detail the accomplishments of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, which had rapidly made Baltimore a Mecca for those concerned with the progress of medical science and had dealt a deathblow to antiquated methods of educating physicians. What had come to pass on the edge of Chesapeake Bay could be duplicated, he clearly implied, along the banks of the Genesee. Senior professors in the projected school would confine themselves wholly to teaching and research, and part-time specialists would be recruited from the medical profession in the Rochester area. As a novel feature of the Rochester undertaking, dentistry would be assigned equality with pathology or any other department in the school. For success the enterprise required the cooperation of the medical and dental fraternity and hospitals in the city, Flexner stressed, along with improvements in instruction in the pre-medical sciences at the College.

Describing Eastman as a person whose "heart, imagination, and purse are working harmoniously and effectively" to advance human well- being, the medical educator concluded, "I judge Rochester by its leading citizen, Mr. Eastman, from whose vision the community takes its cue." Turning to the U. of R. executive head, Flexner said, "May I tell you what we in New York think of Dr. Rhees? He belongs to the small group of eminent administrators who have carefully defined" their objectives. Pretentiousness, he remarked, was the besetting sin of American higher education. "The U. of R. offers a modest menu, but you get what you call for... because the U. of R. is sound to the core, is in competent hands," it "will take no forward step unless the ground is firm beneath its feet and the necessary means are absolutely assured..." He lauded the President as "clear-headed, far-sighted, high-minded." That fine tribute, coming in the twentieth year of Rhees' tenure must have warmed his spirit.

By acclamation, the guests approved a resolution voicing gratitude to the donors of the new institution which would exercise a stimulating impact upon medical and dental practice in the community, and pledged cooperation in the implementation of the plans.

A full account of the meeting in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle carried photographs of John D. Rockefeller and George Eastman side by side. To Rockefeller, Eastman expressed pride in being associated with the oil magnate in the creation of a great medical complex. Rockefeller, in turn, indicated his appreciation to Eastman for "all you have done and are doing for good." He wished "all men of wealth would give their money freely and judiciously for the general welfare" and he believed that progress was being achieved in this respect.

The trustees of the Dental Dispensary were assured by Eastman that "the alliance" with the medical school would not interfere with the work currently being carried on, but would rather pave the way for even larger service. Dispensary and School would have a similar relationship as School and the Strong Hospital. If the need for the Dispensary should ever come to an end or be so lessened that a separate institution was no longer required, Eastman wrote, its property and endowment should be turned over to the U. of R. "for the benefit primarily of dental education, but if they cannot be advantageously so used, for the benefit of general medical education." The donor fully appreciated that the alliance would "call for a very high degree of cooperation between the two sets of trustees."

As expressly desired by Eastman, the University and the Dispensary entered upon a formal agreement, dated October 19, 1920. Therein it was spelled out that the Dispensary trustees would retain control of facilities, endowment, and administration. The Director and his professional staff would be appointed by the Dispensary trustees on nomination of the University trustees; and the University would have full and exclusive right to use the Dispensary for clinical instruction and research in dental care. For services rendered to the University and for educational equipment in dentistry, the U. of R. would pay the costs. It would also furnish training in dentistry of the same quality as in medicine and surgery. Finally, if the continuation of the Dispensary as a separate operation should at any time be deemed inadvisable, the trustees should "turn over to the University the property of the Dispensary, real and personal, including its endowment." In point of fact, the University never took over the Dental Dispensary; the two institutions would be simply affiliated so as to make the clinical facilities of the Dispensary available for research and teaching purposes in the last two years of the projected dental education program. 6


Prudently, it was decided that the top administrator and a nucleus of teachers of demonstrated ability and promise should be selected before actual plans for construction of the Medical Center were drawn up. Several eminent medical leaders came under consideration for the office of dean. Ever ready with suggestions, Abraham Flexner proposed as professor of pathology Dr. George H. Whipple, Dean at the University of California Medical School. However, Flexner's elder brother, Simon, a distinguished pathologist and medical executive, recommended Whipple for the deanship of the new school; more important, his recommendation was supported by Dr. William H. Welch of the Johns Hopkins, sometime a teacher of Whipple, and perhaps the doyen of American medical men at the time. Whipple "is reserved," Welch wrote, "a great character, influential with both colleagues and students... a pathological anatomist, which is essential." Lesser medical celebrities echoed the opinion of Welch and convinced the Rochester authorities that Whipple possessed the ideas and ideals that made him just the man to take command.

Once the choice had been made, Rhees doggedly pursued Whipple until he succeeded in inducing him to become the central figure in the Rochester enterprise. When invited to visit Rochester for a conference, Whipple replied that his California position held a bright future, that he would be more useful for developments taking place there than elsewhere, and that the prospect of planning a new school daunted him. Undeterred and spurred on now by Abraham Flexner, the President traveled to San Francisco and explained plans to Whipple in detail en route, and at other times, too, Rhees visited leading medical centers, accompanied on occasion by Eastman, to deepen his knowledge of the schools and construction and operating costs. Rhees requested Welch, the scientist Whipple most admired, and Abraham Flexner to apply their powers of persuasion upon the hesitant administrator-scientist. Little by little the reluctance of Whipple to consider the Rochester opportunity visibly dimmed; indeed, he drafted a large agenda of conditions that would have to be accepted before he could make up his mind.

If Whipple came, his executive authority in the School would have to be unquestioned, reasonable facilities would have to be furnished for his own researches, and he would not be expected to involve himself in community affairs of any sort. The School would have to be erected close to the College, so that the resources of the scientific departments could be conveniently tapped, and would have to control the teaching hospital. Costs of acquiring land and of constructing and equipping the medical center would have to be met out of the accumulated income from the Eastman and General Education Board gifts.

When Rhees reported to the Executive Committee of the trustees on his consultations with Whipple and the terms he had laid down, that body promptly approved all the stipulations and, on February 25, 1921, unanimously elected Whipple as dean and professor of pathology. Anxious to have Whipple in Rochester as soon as possible, Rhees assured him of office and laboratory space, the apparatus he required in order to reduce interruption on his research projects to a minimum, and adequate funds for these purposes. Out of hand, the press announced that Whipple would come to Rochester several days before he formally accepted--the appointment to become effective in July, 1921.

How Whipple's mind operated in arriving at a decision is best disclosed in his own language.

No appointments had been made. The school was to be a part of the university. There was no old medical school in Rochester to complicate the problem. The dean would have the support of President Rhees in constructing a modern school with its hospital and an adequate full-time staff, everything to measure
up to the highest standards. The funds were in the Treasurer's Office drawing dividends and seemed adequate to build and operate a school with its teaching hospital....

President Rhees reviewed with me many of the problems inevitable in a new school. I explained to him that I could never be completely happy as dean unless I could find time for teaching and continuing my research work. I assured him that I believed this could be done if the Dean's Office was separate from the Department of Pathology and was operated by an able executive secretary. Further, that much time could be spent in community effort and in organized medical meetings. I said I was willing to take the criticism to the effect that I was selfish and lacking in civic concern if he would understand and approve. This plan he did approve and never tried to intrude local problems, though at times, with a smile, he would mention such criticisms. I felt sure of his support and knew that he approved of the operation of the Dean's Office.

New schools of medicine are established rarely, and opportunities to take responsibility at the very start are unusual, to say the least. The endowment seemed generous and adequate for construction and maintenance. Perhaps it is not wise to attempt a detailed analysis of all the factors involved in this proposal. At least it would be a test of leadership and would give a chance to build, from the ground, a new school with the very best young teachers and students and with the necessary laboratories for research in all departments. Co-operative teaching and research would be inevitable with a united hospital and school. All this carried visions and excited thrills. 7


Whipple, who achieved international stature as an investigator, teacher, and academic executive, came of a family of New Hampshire medical practitioners. After secondary training at Phillips Academy in Andover, he matriculated at Yale as a pre-medical student; there he became deeply interested in athletics and distinguished himself in scientific studies, resulting in his election to Sigma Xi. Next he enrolled at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the most respected medical institution in the country, and in which the spirit of research was assiduously cultivated. Great medical scientists whom he encountered there--Welch, above all--convinced him that his own life should be spent, not as a practicing physician, but as a teacher and an investigator. At Baltimore as at New Haven, Whipple earned a large part of his educational expenses.

For nine years after receiving a medical degree at Hopkins in 1905, he was associated with the Baltimore institution, teaching and carrying on research. At one point he debated becoming a specialist in pediatrics, but pathology exerted a stronger and decisive pull. Valuable experience in the Panama Canal Zone and studies at the Universities of Heidelberg and Vienna interrupted his Hopkins years, and significantly broadened his scientific and cultural horizons.

At the age of 35, in 1914, Whipple married Katharine B. Waring of Charleston, South Carolina, and, with considerable misgivings, accepted an appointment to organize and direct medical research under the Hooper Foundation at the University of California Medical School, Berkeley. The research atmosphere that prevailed in Baltimore was fruitfully transplanted to California.

To love of investigation Whipple united unusual powers of concentration; he worked hard himself and what he practiced, he preached. He trained several exceptionally able young men, some of whom he brought to Rochester. While pushing along with brilliant personal investigations on dietary factors in blood formation, he discovered conclusively that liver was the most effective article of food for treating anemia in dogs. At the same time, he waged and won strenuous battles with anti-vivisectionist zealots who wished to prohibit by law the use of animals in scientific experiments. It was in the natural order of things that when a vacancy occurred, Whipple was picked as dean of the California institution. Troublesome administrative, organizational, and financial problems, not mentioned by Whipple in his autobiography, helped to make him receptive eventually to the U. of R. overtures. 8

In September, 1921, Whipple arrived in Rochester to take up the heavy tasks of organizing and planning what became in time a world-famous integrated medical center, combining on a distinctive pattern the training of physicians and a teaching hospital under a single roof.

During what he called a sort of "sabbatical year," Whipple devoted himself mostly to enlarging his knowledge of instructional techniques by consulting experts at Hopkins and other medical centers, to learning more about costs of construction and the most up-to-date thinking on design and layout of medical buildings, and to hunting for younger teachers who had already displayed competence and a pioneering spirit as research workers. The outcome of these facets of the Whipple story will be recounted farther along.

It was important that the best possible relations should be established between the School and the medical profession in Rochester. To that end, Whipple, shortly after settling in the city, outlined what was contemplated to a meeting of the Rochester Medical Society, attended by nearly all the practicing physicians in the community. He received a cordial reception, or, as Rhees phrased it, captivated "everybody by his modesty, directness, and good sense," combining "with his scientific competence a most extraordinary tact and common sense." 9

Basic experiments on anemia which Whipple had been conducting in San Francisco were carried forward in his absence by co-workers there, notably by his long-time and capable aide, Frieda S. Robscheit-Robbins. Among other responsibilities she had charge of dogs, generation after generation of crossbreeds of Dalmatians and Irish bull terriers, used in studies of blood formation in cases of anemia. In the course of her association with Whipple, extending from 1917 to 1955, she prepared more than one hundred articles on her research findings and wrote chapters for several medical textbooks. By reason of her scientific accomplishments, she was elected (1950) president of the American Society of Experimental Pathology--the first woman to hold that position.

In December of 1922 Mrs. Robscheit-Robbins and about fifty dogs traveled from California to Rochester, where all was in readiness to keep researches moving ahead. Temporary quarters for Whipple and his investigations were set up in the Eastman Building on the Prince Street Campus, only a few paces from Rhees' office, which facilitated consultation between Dean and President. 10

Over the years, the Dean and his research teams accumulated an encyclopedic body of knowledge on the impact of disease upon human tissues and produced a long list of professional papers; he and half a hundred younger men coordinated and summarized their findings on the relation of proteins to health and disease in The Dynamic Equilibrium of Body Proteins (1956). This small work is regarded as fundamental for understanding contemporary theories of protein metabolism.

Multiplied achievements brought Whipple multiplied recognitions. Election to membership in the American Philosophical Society (1938) followed a like honor from the National Academy of Science (1929). For many years he served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and as a scientific counselor of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, though he declined to assume the directorship. Medical societies and institutions of higher learning, the U. of R. in an unprecedented action included, acknowledged his eminence by awards, medals, and honorary degrees. And, as the crowning honor, he was co-recipient in 1934 of the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine. His colleagues in this high distinction were George R. Minot and William P. Murphy of the Harvard University Medical School, who proved that liver possessed therapeutic qualities in pernicious anemia, a demonstration that was grounded upon Whipple's discoveries on the essential relation of liver to blood formation.

On the Nobel Prize episode, Whipple has written:

A Nobel Prize announcement comes to any individual with a shock which cannot be defined--disbelief, doubt and self-examination, excitement, curiosity as to the official protocol, and so on. But in Stockholm there is not the faintest doubt in the minds of the laureates that the occasion is of maximal importance to the court and the people--further, that long and careful study by experts precedes the award. It adds up to a most impressive ceremony with related entertainment and receptions by royalty and all important officers.

The official citation pointed out that "of the three prize-winners it was Whipple who first occupied himself with the investigations" which merited the award. "Whipple's experiments were planned exceedingly well and carried out very accurately," the presentation read, "and consequently can lay claim to absolute reliability." The Harvard professors adopted and applied the Whipple discovery, "making use of foods of the kind that Whipple had found to yield favourable results in his experiments regarding anemia from loss of blood." Abraham Flexner was heard to remark that the Nobel distinction alone justified the entire expenditure for the U. of R. medical center.

Medical School colleagues welcomed the Dean home from the Nobel festivities at a jolly gathering, Professor Wallace O. Fenn delivering a literary classic on the achievements of the laureate under the title, "The House that George Built," and the Rochester Academy serenaded Whipple at a monster banquet. Feet on the desk, he regaled his medical "family"--the staff of the Department of Pathology--with amusing anecdotes on the ceremonies in Sweden, not excluding how he curtsied to the King and backed away, and also how he readily acquiesced when an American customs officer evaluated the Nobel gold medal at ten dollars. With characteristic generosity, the Dean gave part of his prize money to Mrs. Robbins and two other technical assistants and passed the remainder along to his mother.

Similarly, he chose not to keep for himself fees that the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical house paid him for preparing liver extracts useful in remedying secondary anemia. So long as he remained Dean, the revenues were applied to research programs in which he was involved, and after retiring he allocated the money to endowing the chair of pathology, to visiting lectureships in honor of three scientists who had taught at the School, and to financing scholarships, bearing the name of his wife, for worthy medical students; any surplus might be expended as the University trustees deemed wise. 11

In 1953 Whipple, then seventy-five, venerable and venerated, relinquished the deanship. On that occasion, U. of R. President Cornelis W. de Kiewiet declared that "... the whole remarkable achievement of the Medical School is the product of a single generation of effort in which Dr. Whipple has been the guiding genius... a great dean who has guided the Medical Center all the way from a bare piece of ground to one of the great forces in the nation." The largest meeting hall in the Center was named (1950) Whipple Auditorium, and a hospital courtyard was known as the "George H. Whipple Garden," the Dean having planned and planted it.

For two more years Whipple continued to teach pathology, and thereafter confined himself to an occasional lecture on the history of medicine, to research and writing, going almost daily to his laboratory except in months when allergy to certain pollens obliged him to withdraw to more hospitable Florida. One year while he was relaxing there, the American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists voted him its highest honor--a gold-headed cane once carried by Professor William H. Welch. It may also be recorded that Whipple's name was applied to a peculiar digestive disease.

Rather surprisingly for those who did not know the scientist well, Whipple considered the instructional function as the most rewarding and valuable aspect of his unusual career, quite in harmony with the oldest U. of R. traditions. "I have been most fortunate," he confided to his autobiography, "in that teaching has been a part of my life ever since college graduation." The pleasure, if anything, has become greater as teaching experience accumulated. I believe a good medical teacher must be an investigator, philosopher and/or clinician. I would be remembered as a teacher." In responding to the invitation to compose "this very personal piece of business," he was motivated by the feeling that "if anything I can say will prove of some value to young workers... then the pleasure more than compensates for the effort."

Though often awed in his presence, students developed warm affection for the master, one of them being credited with the observation, "when he comes into a classroom, the silence is deafening." Instead of didactic lectures, the Dean taught pathology around an autopsy table or in conferences at which he described complex diseases in clear and concise language. In dealing with younger learners he was patient and kindly, though utterly intolerant of the superficial and uncommitted person.

Once the Medical Center was in good working order, Whipple rather resented the hours absorbed by the deanship, writing, "...I hope the good Lord will shorten my days if I ever become a full time dean or one concerned purely with executive matters." And he regarded membership on national medical committees as abhorrent," an almost criminal waste of time." 12

Whipple achieved so much and so greatly partly because he avoided time-consuming social engagements. Rochester hostesses quickly learned at dinner parties that the Dean disliked trivial conversation and was less than companionable; he was quite disinterested in club membership. At parties in his own home, however, especially gatherings of students and of newcomers to the School faculty, or in the homes of intimate friends and acquaintances he was sheer delight (as were the pheasants he had shot), almost never talking of medical matters unless vigorously goaded. George Eastman and George Whipple developed a strong and solid companionship, most of all by reason of mutual interests in education and in outdoor living, hunting, and fishing, but also while communing in virtual silence for hour-long stretches in the Eastman mansion or listening to weekly musicales there. At his first conference with Rhees, Whipple acquired a liking for the President which grew into a firm and enduring friendship. When a disagreement arose over an administrative question, "Prexy" assured one of his aides that Whipple's "bark was always worse than his bite." 13


Around the towering figure of Whipple, a remarkable set of senior professors was assembled to form the original faculty of the School. The Dean expressed a decided preference for teachers and scholars who were Americans, soundly trained, experienced, imbued with a pioneering outlook, and who had personal traits that would ensure cooperation in a common enterprise. Appointees would be paid good salaries--much higher than the college faculty--and would confine themselves almost exclusively to instruction and research; if they received fees for consultations, the money would pass into the School treasury. To the first senior professors would be given the distinctive opportunity--and challenge--to shape their departments (literally from the ground up), plan the layouts of laboratories, and share in picking junior staff members.

Recruiting scientists to satisfy the exacting specifications turned out to be no light undertaking. Innumerable consultations on candidates were held with medical specialists such as Welch and the Flexner brothers. As department heads were chosen, they took seats on a powerful Advisory Board which dealt with other appointments and with administrative problems of basic importance. Rhees usually filled the chair at meetings of this body, took a very active part in the deliberations, and often explained how general questions that emerged had been traditionally resolved at the U. of R. On almost every issue that came under discussion he inquired, "What is the practice in other institutions?", or, "How much will it cost?" or he recommended. "Let it develop as wisdom may indicate." More than once he voiced dislike of "pirating" teachers from other schools, but, like Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and eighteenth century Poland, the more he wept the more he took.

Candidates for professorships were discussed fully and with exemplary candor by the Advisory Board, and whenever it was felt that information about a given individual was insufficient, inquiries were made among acquaintances in the medical profession to obtain fuller data. It must be said that Whipple himself had an almost uncanny knack for sizing up candidates. 14

A matter of months after the Dean had established himself in Rochester, Nathaniel W. Faxon, Assistant Director of the famous Massachusetts General Hospital, was lured to the Flower City. Aside from salary inducements, Faxon stipulated that he must have the right to confer directly with the University trustees on hospital questions, and that he should have co-equal authority with the Dean in administering teaching activities in the hospital and full control of the hospital in other respects.

Given the rank of professor as well as hospital director, Faxon was furnished office quarters in the Eastman Building alongside of Whipple. The two leaders consulted constantly in planning the medical center complex and on faculty selections. Faxon's broad professional experience, friendly personality, and keen appreciation of the role of a teaching hospital in clinical research made him an excellent teammate of the Dean. In 1932 he was accorded national recognition by election as President of the American Hospital Association; three years later he returned to Boston to take charge of the Massachusetts General Hospital.

"...His genial personality will go far toward keeping our (Rochester's) hospital from degenerating into a mere repair shop run on a factory system," a professor at the School had accurately predicted. In 1958 the University bestowed an honorary doctorate upon the distinguished hospital administrator. 15

For the chair of anatomy, George W. Corner, who had been associated with Whipple at California, was brought from the Johns Hopkins. From the Dean, more than from other master-teachers at whose feet he had sat, Corner had learned "about the spirit of a strong mind in medical research." For a year after his election he lived abroad, enlarging his familiarity with research methods and with laboratory and related arrangements in medical institutions. He took up his Rochester duties in September of 1924, "unhampered by old traditions and unobserved by critical predecessors or by colleagues long established in other departments." His research yielded valuable clinical discoveries, notably in the histology of the ovary and in the anatomy and physiology of the mammalian reproductive system. Working under his supervision was a division of medical illustration which turned out photographs required by the School and trained men and women in the craft of picture-making for medical purposes.

As a teacher, Corner, (frequently miscalled "Carver," which he thought not inappropriate for an anatomist), "was a very human and understanding man," one of the first U. of R. students remembered. "Early in our course with him, he impressed upon us the futility of trying to memorize Gray's Anatomy. He stressed the idea that we should look carefully and thoughtfully at the actual dissection and that we would learn anatomical relationships as we progressed through Pathology, Surgery, and Medicine. This was a rather advanced idea for that day."

It was expected that Corner would kindle student awareness of the history of medicine, and he did, founding a successful club for medical history which eventually was assigned his name. As chairman of the School Library Committee, Corner was instrumental in building up the book and periodical resources, especially on medical history, and annually he guided first year students through the library, describing the collections as he walked along. For young people he prepared books on sex education, which enjoyed extensive circulation. The catholicity of Corner's mind and the breadth of his interests are amply illustrated in a series of essays--historical, didactic, philosophical--appended to his delightful autobiography, Anatomist at Large.

Retiring from Rochester reluctantly in 1940, Corner worked for fifteen years as director of the Department of Embryology of the Carnegie Institution and then became, successively, the historian of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The U. of R. manifested its appreciation of his achievements by conferring an honorary doctorate in science on him (1944); other universities and learned bodies awarded him their highest distinctions. 16

As professor of biochemistry (after 1925 of pharmacology also) and associate dean, Walter R. Bloor, a colleague of Whipple at the University of California, was chosen--at forty-six the oldest scientist on the original faculty. A well-established pioneer in the investigation of fats in human nutrition, he was noted for his calm, not easily ruffled temperament and for a kindly interest in younger learners, one of whom wrote that "he was like a second father to us;" yet he firmly insisted that students must grow independently, stand on their own feet. Every year newcomers to the School made a pilgrimage to the Bloor farmstead on the shore of Canandaigua Lake for an outing, and it was also the scene of much-appreciated departmental picnics.

Like his colleagues, Bloor never ceased to busy himself with research problems, sharing experiences and setting an example to students. Like his colleagues, too, he produced numerous articles for scientific journals and contributed chapters to books on biochemistry. He presided over the American Society of Biological Chemists (1930-31) and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (1930) and was active in regional and Rochester scientific societies.

Upon his retirement in 1947, former students of "The Chief" presented him with a portrait photograph done by the renowned Yousuf Karsh, which, like portraits of other School worthies, adorns the walls of the Alumni Corridor in front of the Library. Though emeritus, Bloor continued to carry on research and worked as consultant for commercial companies. 17

After no little hesitation and debate, Stanhope Bayne-Jones forsook Hopkins, where he had known Whipple, to assume the headship of the department of bacteriology. The opportunity to share in public health service in the Rochester community cancelled out the inducements which the Hopkins authorities offered in an effort to retain him. Very much the suave and courtly Southern gentleman and a specialist in microbiology, he negotiated (1926) a mutually advantageous merger of the Rochester Public Health Bureau laboratories with the School, and arranged for the use of School facilities by Rochester physicians who wished to conduct scientific investigations. Instruction in the fundamentals of bacteriology in the collegiate branch of the U. of R. was likewise under his jurisdiction.

"Dr. Bayne-Jones struck fear in my heart," an early student reports. "He was one of the most brilliant members of the faculty, but I never understood him very well. He did not inspire me....Subsequently, I realized that the 'far out' questions he always asked was his special way of finding out whether one was reading literature besides the prescribed textbook. I was too immature and ill-prepared for this type of graduate study. He left most of the mundane teaching (i.e. laboratory type) to his instructor..."

Bayne-Jones served as president of the Society of American Bacteriologists (1929) and of the American Association of Immunologists (1930). The first of the original senior professors at the School to resign, he moved in 1932 to New Haven, advancing in time to the deanship of the Yale Medical School, and later adding to his laurels by service in the United States army and as an administrator of important medical projects of national scope. 18

Following lengthy exchanges of opinion, the Advisory Board recommended that John J. Morton Jr., Hopkins trained and then at the Yale Medical School, should be brought to Rochester as chief of surgery (which embraced orthopedic care and urology as well). His clinic at New Haven was adjudged as good, if not better, than any other in the country, and he had achieved an outstanding reputation as a surgeon and as a "kindly and trustworthy" person. Accepting the bid, Morton soon counted thirty-three associates on his staff and, aided by several Rochester surgeons, he rapidly acquired the diversified equipment his department needed. His research papers dealt particularly with cancer, intestinal obstruction, and bone diseases. He presided over the American Society for the Control of Cancer (1938-40) and the Society of Clinical Surgery (1939-41); the April, 1946, issue of Surgery, dedicated to Morton, comprised scientific contributions by his associates. Becoming emeritus professor in 1953, he undertook the various direction of cancer research at the School and carried out various government assignments. 19

Despite his youth, William S. McCann had already made an enviable reputation as a teacher and clinician at the Johns Hopkins. He was only thirty-three when he accepted (1922) the U. of R. professorship of internal medicine, which included radiology, a novel linkage, and psychiatry, an emerging discipline of whose value many medical experts were still skeptical. Because of his youthful appearance at the time of appointment, McCann requested that his picture should not be printed in Rochester newspapers, recalling Oliver Wendell Holmes' remark that "people like their doctors mouldy like their cheese."

Straightway, McCann revealed the temper of his mind in a communication to Whipple: "I know you are as keen as I"... [to create] "a medical clinic that will actually do something for a sick man besides putting a label on him....I feel that medicine is being weighed and found wanting. Its fate will depend on whether or not we can develop a real therapeusis."

At Rochester McCann served as physician-in-chief of the School hospital and heightened his national standing by directing a model medical out-patient division, and especially by original investigations to conquer silicosis, a major industrial illness brought on by factory dust. His publications brought him many academic and scientific honors, such as the presidency of the Association of American Physicians; during the Second World War he advanced to the rank of captain in the United States Navy. When a prominent Rochester internist, Charles A. Dewey, U. of R. 1861, and son of Professor Chester Dewey, bequeathed a substantial legacy to the School, the trustees assigned (1928) the income principally to the, department of medicine and bestowed the name of the donor on the chair occupied by McCann.

In a dedication of the 1957 School yearbook to the Professor of Medicine, the editor described him as "an inspiring teacher... a purposeful administrator... a physician in the fullest sense... a rare combination of warmth, intuitive diagnostic acumen, and scholarly curiosity into all aspects of human illness. After his years of formal instruction came to a close in 1957, McCann concentrated on private practice and on preparing a sort of autobiography, awaited (1968) with lively anticipation. 20

It was decided to imitate at Rochester the European custom of combining obstetrics and gynecology in a single department. Candidates for the chairmanship were narrowed down to Karl M. Wilson, teacher at Hopkins, who also had a lucrative private practice in Baltimore. In Whipple's judgment, Wilson, who wanted to devote himself to full-time instruction and investigation, ranked at the top of American obstetricians. For a year after joining the School faculty, Wilson visited important European clinics to get on-the-spot information about the latest techniques in his branch of the healing art. Canadian-born, like Bloor, Wilson was a big, strong individual, and during his thirty-year tenure at the School he enjoyed the confidence and esteem of colleagues, practitioners, and community. His obstetric experience he turned to good account in a series of scholarly articles, especially on metabolism during pregnancy and on embryology.

The first chief of the pediatrics department, Samuel W. Clausen, who had received his medical degree at Hopkins, came to the U. of R. from Washington University in St. Louis. Thorough discussions in the Advisory Board brought out that Clausen was an able, well-equipped clinician, though he tended not to exert himself, and there was some feeling that shyness and reserve handicapped him. Nevertheless, with the hearty approval of Abraham Flexner, the Board voted favorably on Clausen and he moved to the "new Kodak School out East," remaining until failing health forced him to resign in 1952.

To his technical knowledge of pediatrics, Clausen united unusual familiarity with chemistry and mathematics. His kindly and sympathetic disposition, coupled with dry, subtle humor, made him a special favorite of students. His researches on chemical problems in diseases of children, nutrition, and vitamin A contributed significantly to the high academic stature which the U. of R. School quickly attained. The graduates stamped their approval upon his work as teacher and investigator by voting him the first award of the Medical School Alumni (1952). The first of the original senior professors to die, Clausen's memory is treasured by a host of doctors whom he taught and guided. 21

Chosen professor of physiology at the age of thirty-one, Wallace O. Fenn, Harvard-trained and reinforced by two years of foreign study, was the youngest department head "and the sharpest mind among us," Corner commented. Whipple understood that his own specialty, pathology, depended upon accurate anatomy and formed a branch, as it were, of physiology, so he was especially anxious to secure a first-class man for that chair.

In the classroom "Fenn was a shy individual who seemed aloof," one student recalled. "He always seemed to think above the student level and always assumed that we knew more physiology than we actually did... and [he] left the more detailed laboratory work to Dr. Adolph. Dr. Adolph was a very helpful understanding man who complemented his chief since he tried to simplify physiology for us in very basic terms....Although Dr. Fenn seemed to be removed from us, we all admired and respected him. Today I know him much better and have decided that what I thought was aloofness was innate shyness."

Fenn's research interests centered on the physiology of respiration, and muscle functions, the mechanics of running and bodily movements, pressure breathing, and nitrogen narcosis. Nationally and internationally, his discoveries, which placed him among the foremost living physiologists, brought him many distinctions, prizes for experimental medicine, an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago, the presidencies of the American Physiology Society (1946) and of the American Institute of Biological Science (1957), and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For five years he filled the office of assistant dean at the School, and, after reaching emeritus rank (1962), in a purely bookkeeping sense, he assumed the directorship of the space science center at the U. of R. 22

John R. Murlin, professor of physiology and director of the department of vital economics, occupied a somewhat anomalous status on the School staff. Assigned (1922) the title of "Professor of Nutritional Physiology," he preferred to be known simply as "Professor of Physiology." Technically, he belonged to the collegiate division, having been appointed in 1917 as head of a novel department of vital economics.

This department had been created in accordance with a bequest by Lewis P. Ross, Rochester manufacturer and University trustee for twenty-three years and Board president for twelve. Afflicted by serious digestive disorders, he appreciated the high importance of proper diet for good health. Appropriately, in his will Ross left his large residuary estate to finance teaching and research in physiology and nutrition; part of the income would accrue to the household economics department of the Mechanics Institute (later the Rochester Institute of Technology), but the bulk of the money would be used to maintain a U. of R. department of vital economics--a term that the donor fancied. The department would unite college teaching and scientific investigation with extramural instruction in hygiene and human nutrition.

As was his habit, President Rhees solicited the advice of experts on the implementation of the Ross agenda, stressing that the University neither had nor expected to have a medical school and it wished to avoid duplication of scientific work underway elsewhere.

To head the department, Murlin, a physiologist at the Cornell Medical School, was ultimately elected (1917). Although he was immediately drawn into government war service, he carried on a voluminous correspondence with Rhees and visited Rochester several times to plan the new department. Space on the top floor of the Eastman Building was made available for a laboratory. In the spring of 1919 Murlin started his work at Rochester, teaching a few undergraduates, who by taking prescribed courses in other departments in addition could obtain a B.S. in Vital Economics. But training graduate students and investigation were Murlin's central concerns, he established in fact the first genuine research program in U. of R. history.

With the advent of the Medical Center, Murlin eagerly agreed that vital economics should become "an integral part" of the School, and in 1925 the department was transferred there. A bronze tablet in the entrance hall of Dewey Hall on the River Campus and a replica in the corridor of the Medical School leading to the vital economics laboratory are reminders of the gift by Ross and of his concern "that human life may be prolonged with increased health and happiness." 23

While vital economics preserved an independent status and was financed by the Ross Fund, it was given quarters in the School--designated the "Lewis P. Ross Foundation"--adjacent to the department of physiology, and the staff shared in teaching medical students. Apparently, the Advisory Board at one point considered asking Murlin to take the chair of physiology in the School, but it concluded that while he could contribute greatly, he was not quite the person to build the department along the lines desired. As already indicated, Fenn was chosen for the professorship, and, according to him, his relations with Murlin were invariably "friendly and cordial." On the other hand, misunderstandings and friction between Whipple and Murlin provoked Rhees to rebuke the physiologist in stern language. When in 1945 Murlin reached the age for obligatory retirement, vital economics was quietly absorbed by the department of physiology.

In the opinion of some scientists, had Murlin kept on with experiments to find relief or a remedy for diabetes instead of entering the national service in 1917, he would in all probability have discovered insulin and thereby have merited Nobel laurels. Be that as it may, the tall, dignified professor had to his credit a prodigious list of scientific papers concerned mainly with gastrointestinal physiology and carbohydrate and protein metabolism; he belonged among the founding fathers of the American Institute of Nutrition (of which he was president, 1934-1936) and edited seventeen volumes of The Journal of Nutrition --the thirty-first volume (1946) was designated the "Murlin Honor" issue. His commitment to the advancement of knowledge and weekly luncheon-seminars endeared him to graduate students, who regarded themselves as his disciples, and many of them attained high honors in science, as was the case with Vincent du Vigneaud, Ph.D., 1927, Nobel Prizeman (1955). Distinctions that accrued to Murlin himself included the Banting Medal of the American Diabetes Association (1957) and the establishment of a lectureship carrying his name at the U. of R. School. 24

Well has it been, said by George W. Corner, "In the whole history of medical education, there was probably never a school where good students could get so close to good teachers as at Rochester" in the early years. Abraham Flexner, who saw his designs for an ideal medical center being translated into reality beside the Genesee, heartily congratulated Rhees on securing "a tiptop group of young fellows--setting the country a wholesome example."

Small wonder in view of the large proportion of the faculty who had ties with the prestigious Johns Hopkins that Rochester was referred to as an outpost, a lineal descendant of the Baltimore institution. And there was justifiable pride in that connection. On the eightieth birthday of the grand old man at Hopkins, William H. Welch, eight of the principal teachers at the U. of R., "pupils and former associates" of Welch, wired him good wishes. "Our endeavors to organize medical education and research in this institution," the telegram read in part, "have been founded upon your example and precept...and strengthened by your constant encouragement.... " 25


Attached to each department of the School were junior staff members, technically able young men of promise, authentic investigators who desired to engage in research, and, indeed, only such persons were desired. Only a few of the early appointees, who were, as a whole, to have lengthy tenures at Rochester and who distinguished themselves in teaching or research or both, can possibly be mentioned.

During his war service , Murlin became acquainted with Henry A. Mattill, who came to the U. of R. when work in vital economics began. Although Mattill was a wise and methodical teacher, classroom responsibilities were light so that he had ample time to engage in researches on nutrition. In 1927 he switched to the University of Iowa, where for a quarter century he carried forward studies initiated at Rochester, and he took with him the Murlin principle that teachers and learners should resemble a family grouping.

To the staff of the medical department was brought Stafford L. Warren, a California protege of Whipple, a large, hearty individual, the kind of man the Dean liked. Making himself an expert on radiology, Warren carried out important duties in connection with atomic research during the Second World War, and then accepted (1947) the deanship of the medical school at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he supervised the construction of a new medical center more or less on the Rochester model. With him he took several respected U. of R. teachers--the "pirate," reformed now, was "pirated." Along the way, Warren prepared nearly one hundred papers on such medical diversities as cancer, arthritis, fever therapy, the effects of radiation, and radioactive isotopes.

As the first resident physician at the Medical Center, McCann picked Lawrence A. Kohn, a graduate of Hopkins, who had made a most favorable impression upon the Advisory Board by reason of his experience in bacteriology and his attractive personality. Students in internal medicine learned to admire Kohn as a productive scientific investigator, carrying on research in hypertension, thyroid disease, and psychosomatic ailments, and an excellent teacher, roles he filled until 1962; as a private practitioner, Kohn belonged in the forefront of Rochester physicians. That distinction was likewise attained by Charles B. F. Gibbs, a distinguished pioneer in research on diabetes and a founding-father of the American Diabetes Association. Also in the medical department was Eric K. Clarke, a specialist in psychiatry, who was notably active in promoting programs for psychiatric service; in 1938 he transferred to the University of Minnesota.

From Washington University, Clausen brought an able clinician in pediatrics, William L. Bradford. Upon the retirement of his chief, Bradford assumed (1952) the chairmanship of the department, and he also put in seven years as assistant dean at the school. He was the author of articles on infectious diseases, immunity to whooping cough, and related problems of pediatrics in professional journals, in encyclopedias, and in books.

The department of physiology lured from Hopkins Edward F. Adolph, already mentioned, who became an expert investigator of internal factors regulating the size of living organisms and tissues, of water metabolism and desert physiology. He advanced to a professorship in physiology. Among his books were Regulation of Size as Illustrated in Unicellular Organisms and Physiological Regulations. Elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Adolph also served as president of the American Physiology Society (1953).

Impressed by "the unusual initiative and originality" of research papers that Konrad E. Birkhaug of Hopkins had published, Whipple obtained his services for the department of bacteriology. Scarcely was Birkhaug settled in Rochester than banner press headlines announced that he had discovered a specific serum for treatment of erysipelas. Former co-workers in Baltimore, however, challenged the claim to priority of discovery and the ambitious bacteriologist soon withdrew from Rochester under a cloud. Subsequently, Birkhaug attained considerable prominence as a bacteriologist (and sculptor) in his native Norway.

Appointed as a teacher in surgery, R. Plato Schwartz was in time promoted to the headship of orthopedic surgery. For many years he directed a unique gait laboratory which concentrated on studies of human locomotion and the styling of shoes for corrective purposes, and he developed a photographic device known as an electrobasograph to detect irregularities in the gait of man. An overzealous U. of R. publicity man circulated a story, which Time magazine seized upon, that Schwartz contemplated applying his orthopedic knowledge to making race horses trot faster. A foundation which had appropriated funds for scientific investigations at the U. of R., and the American Medical Association as well, objected strenuously to this form of research and the attendant advertising; the publicity agent was ordered by his superiors to cease and desist. Schwartz also worked as a consultant to the national government on military footwear, and at about mid-point in his career he organized the first cerebral palsy center in New York State--the Edith Hartwell Clinic at LeRoy, New York--and was invited to lecture in Europe on this phase of health care. Various medical associations bestowed medals on him for his diversified achievements.

Likewise outstanding among the early junior appointees in surgery were W. J. Merle Scott, who in 1953 was named professor of surgery and surgeon-in-chief, T. Banford Jones, and Samuel J. Stabins, all of whom grew into leaders in their profession. A pioneer in peripheral vascular disease research, Scott carried out experimental work on the influence of the adrenal glands on resistance, gastric ulcers, and the systematic nervous system. A specialist on thyroid diseases, Jones also investigated congenital anomalies of the intestinal tract, while Stabins, who served as president of the Society of University Surgeons (1939), was noted for clinical research in cancer and experimental surgery; uniquely among faculty men, Stabins served on the University's board of trustees. 26

From the directorship of the training school for nurses at Washington University, St. Louis, Helen Wood was drawn to the U. of R. to take charge of the nursing programs. She cooperated in designing a residence for nurses and in planning nursing education, and she assembled a superb set of teaching colleagues, some of whom had been associated with her in St. Louis. Universally respected and admired, the momentum Miss Wood imparted to the training of nurses persisted after her resignation in 1931 to take charge of the nursing department at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Subsequently she became director of the Simmons College School of Nursing. 27


Doctors practicing in Rochester completed the School staff, which numbered more than one hundred by 1927, as part-time instructors, lecturers, and consultants. Selection of these men proved to be an exceptionally exacting and delicate undertaking, inasmuch as physicians, perhaps more than other professional workers, attach great importance to their standing in the community and affiliation with the School carried with it a stamp of approval and a measure of prestige. In making its choices, the Advisory Board preferred individuals who had only recently finished their own medical training and who were especially qualified to teach. It relied to a considerable extent upon recommendations by Edward W. Mulligan, personal physician of George Eastman.

Announcement of the physicians picked for the staff unleashed a storm of resentment and criticism. Caustic letters in the city press denounced the University authorities for yielding to the pressures of a self-seeking "clique" of practitioners and for passing over very capable doctors. Influential Rochester laymen complained so vigorously to President Rhees that he asked Whipple whether it would not be advisable to make a few more appointments, though he left the final decision "to the very good judgment" of the Dean. Shortly, though not immediately, several more high-standing local practitioners were added to the staff.

Earlier, certain Rochester doctors were offended by the coming of the Medical Center, especially its teaching hospital which competed with existing hospitals for patients, and resented the possibility that School professors might devote part of their time to private practice. "To expect that all medical men should unselfishly co-operate in every program for improving public health without even considering its effect on their own practice is a utopian dream," Professor Slater wrote in his biography of Rhees, slyly adding, "Rochester is not yet utopia."

It was charged that the Municipal Hospital (presently to be remarked upon), a part of the medical complex, aspired to monopolize the care of indigent Rochesterians and exacted excessively high fees. University authorities were worried by the attacks, but that particular source of hostility was reduced by an agreement to the effect that the ailing poor might be treated in any major Rochester hospital, the city treasury bearing a portion of the expense.

Rhees and several senior medical professors at the School, appreciative of the importance of a friendly posture on the part of the medical profession in the city, deliberately cultivated good relations--and successfully--though many years passed before antagonisms wholly died away. 28


Before the teaching staff had been recruited, indeed directly after the financing of the Medical Center had been settled, debate commenced on the crucial proposition as to the location of the School and Hospital. Initially, it was thought by certain U. of R. trustees and George Eastman that buildings should be erected on the Prince Street Campus or in its immediate vicinity, and in 1920 a survey of the possibilities was carried out by a Boston architectural firm. However, it was soon appreciated that the space available on the college grounds would be utterly inadequate; in fact, overcrowding and rising enrollment in the College called urgently for enlarged facilities to conduct undergraduate instruction.

Various alternative sites for the Medical Center came under review, rival tracts claiming their partisans in a manner recalling the lively canvas of the 1850's that ended with the acquisition of the Boody property on Prince Street. Among the areas considered were the west side of Prince Street extending from the Women's College complex to East Avenue, the south side of East Avenue including the parcel of ground occupied by the Genesee Valley Club, tracts farther east on East Avenue, Cobb's Hill Park, which Eastman had given to the city but which it was believed the city would readily relinquish, a section along Penfield Road, and an area lying north of the Main Street Armory. Considerable support emerged for a central city location that would be easy of access for low-income families requiring medical care.

Hardly had Whipple accepted the deanship than he plunged into the ongoing discussion concerning a site. By then the conviction had gained upon the trustees that the Prince Street Campus was too small even for expansion of collegiate education. In a confidential memorandum of September 6, 1921, to the trustees, President Rhees methodically set out the space problems before them. Consultations with knowledgeable medical executives had convinced him of the desirability of locating the medical institution near the collegiate departments of science and of keeping all books and periodicals under one roof. If the medical school and the college were geographically far apart from each other, the undergraduate division, Rhees supposed, might suffer eclipse in the public mind.

Next the President outlined the merits and disadvantages of establishing a wholly new college campus, adequate for immediate requirements and future growth. Removal from Prince Street would rupture strong and deep sentimental ties and would involve financial outlays of large magnitude, he pointed out.

Ultimately the trustees decided, as will later be recounted, to construct a new campus for men along the southern rim of Rochester, on Oak Hill beside the Genesee, and to make over the Prince Street facilities primarily for undergraduate women.

For the Medical Center, the U. of R. purchased in 1922 parcels of land south of Oak Hill, totaling about ninety-seven acres. This property consisted of the Crittenden (or Castleton) tract, mostly flat farmland, and a tree nursery of the Ellwanger and Barry firm. To the east, the University acreage extended almost to Mount Hope Avenue, on which a few homes stood, and to the south as far as the Barge Canal. Elmwood Avenue, an unsurfaced roadway, separated the property from Oak Hill, as did a branch of the Lehigh Valley railway over which building materials and later on fuel for heating purposes could be economically transported. The price of the real estate was right, the area sufficient for medical buildings immediately required and for modest growth in the future. Noise, dust, and smoke, which would have been bothersome if a city location had been chosen, were absent from this suburban district, which had the further advantage of being close to Rochester public health institutions that could furnish anatomical and clinical patients. And it was accurately predicted that if excellent care were provided, patients would not regard the distance from downtown Rochester as a serious handicap. 29


Once the land had been legally transferred, plans for the construction of the Medical Center moved forward at a good pace, though they had not fully matured when an additional opportunity burst upon the scene--a municipal hospital to be embraced in the medical complex. Since 1869 Rochester had maintained a city hospital--or pesthouse--and under the dynamic leadership of George W. Goler, two-fisted fighter for public health and city health officer, blueprints had been drafted for a large new municipal hospital in the northeastern section of Rochester. Community welfare would benefit, Goler reasoned, if that project were abandoned and the municipal hospital were attached to the U. of R. medical center. An arrangement of a similar character had been worked out in Cincinnati, and it was estimated that the city treasury would save $500,000 if the municipal hospital formed part of the Crittenden Boulevard complex.

Rhees and Whipple responded enthusiastically to the Goler initiative, which would at once enable the University to render a special service to the community and would provide the School with patients suffering from unusual or interesting ailments of value in training physicians. George Eastman gave his approval to the idea, predicting that if it were carried out, "The poorest family in Rochester will soon have the best available medical and surgical skill." And the Mayor of Rochester, Hiram B. Edgerton, not only strongly supported the proposal, but piloted the necessary legislation through the municipal law-making body.

Negotiations between municipal and University officers to implement the partnership resulted, on April 25, 1923, in a formal contract, which for legality required an amendment to the city charter. Rhees termed the agreement "the most noteworthy event" in U. of R. annals for the year. The Municipal Hospital would be erected at city expense on a plot of ground bought by the University with the understanding that if the contract was not renewed the city would pay the U. of R. the purchase price of the land. The municipality also agreed to finance the construction of an underpass beneath the Lehigh Valley railway crossing Elmwood Avenue.

On its part, the University would furnish at cost the services of its medical staff, diagnostic, x-ray, and operating facilities, pharmaceutical products, food, heat, and laundry for patients, and would allocate space for the City Health Bureau laboratories in the quarters of the department of bacteriology. There tests would be made to determine the purity of milk and water supplies and to detect infectious diseases. The contract, which would run for fifteen years and was subject to renewal, served as a model for similar pacts between municipalities and medical training institutions all across the United States.

In the expert opinion of Abraham Flexner, the arrangement represented "one of the most helpful steps ever taken in this country toward financing medical education," and a praiseworthy prelude to creating clinics equal to those in Europe. Rochester's city fathers he saluted as "enlightened and far-sighted."

A bronze tablet in the Alumni Corridor of the Medical School, containing a likeness of Goler, proclaims that "his concern for medical education and for community health led to the construction of the Rochester Municipal Hospital as an integral part" of the medical center. In recognition of his indispensable role in translating vision into reality and as a testimonial to his manifold and nationally acclaimed contributions to public health and sanitation, the U, of R. in 1925 conferred upon him an honorary degree in science. 30

Footnotes to Chapter 20

  1. George Eastman to Rush Rhees, December 14, 1920. Personal Letter Book, 14, Eastman Papers. Helen S. Carter and Gertrude S. Achilles to Rush Rhees, August 18, 1924. Rhees Papers.
  2. Rochester Post-Express, October 16, 1916, May 9, October 15, 1917, April 17,1919. Harvey J. Burkhardt, "Dentistry and Health Conservation," Modern Medicine, I (1919), l-6. George Eastman to Trustees of the Rochester Dental Dispensary, June 25, 1920. Rhees Library Archives. Harvey J. Burkhardt, "Dentistry in Rochester," RHSP, XIII (1934), 295-302. "Eastman Dental Center" (1967), a booklet published for the fiftieth anniversary of the institution. Rhees Library Archives.
  3. Abraham Flexner, I Remember (New York, 1940, reprinted, 1960), pp. 180-183. Ibid., "Adventures in Money Raising," Harper's Magazine, CXXXI (1940), 253-256. Rush Rhees to A. Flexner, Jan. 28, 1920. Rhees Papers. Flexner to Rhees, Jan. 30, Feb. 24, 1920. Ibid. (The Rhees Papers of 1920 contain a voluminous correspondence between the two men.) Rhees to Wallace R. Buttrick, Feb. 7, May 6, 1920. Ibid. Frederick T. Gates to Rhees, March 28, 1920. Ibid. George Eastman to Harvey J. Burkhardt, April 4, 1921. Personal Letter Book, 14, Eastman Papers. RD&C, June 12, 1920. President's Report, June 1, 1920. Slater, Rhees, Chapter XIII. Galpin, Syracuse University, II, 90, n. 20. Galpin believed that Gates, 1877, and Buttrick, sometime a U. of R. trustee, both identified with the General Education Board, had a good deal to do with the victory of Rochester over Syracuse in the medical school rivalry.
  4. George Eastman to Rush Rhees, March 18, 1920. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Eastman, Sept. 25, 1920. Ibid.
  5. Rush Rhees to George Eastman, April 5, July 31, August 15, Oct. 12, 1920. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Abraham Flexner, Feb. 22, 24, 1921. Ibid. Helen S. Carter to Rhees Sept. 22, 1922. Ibid. Rhees to Carter, Oct. 2, 3, 1922. Ibid. New York Times, Feb. 24, 1921.
  6. Rochester Herald, June 11, 1920. RD&C, June 12, 1920. Rush Rhees to Wallace Buttrick, June 12, 1920. Rhees Papers. George Eastman to John D. Rockefeller, June 12, 1920 (copy), Rhees Papers. Rockefeller to Eastman, June 15, 1920 (copy). Ibid. George Eastman to the Trustees of the Rochester Dental Dispensary, June 25, 1920. Ibid. Agreement Dispensary and the U. of R., October 19, 1920 (copy). Eastman Dental Center Archives. Cf. Alan Valentine to Charles F. Hutchison, non-graduate, 1898, March 10, 1939. Valentine Papers. Trustee Records, V, June 15, 1920. Rush Rhees to Dexter Perkins, July 2, 1934. Rhees Papers.
  7. Rush Rhees to Homer D. Brookins, 1880, July 7, 1920. Rhees Papers. Rhees to George H. Whipple, Oct. 21, Nov. 13, 27, 1920, Feb. 26, April 20, 1921. Ibid. Whipple to Rhees, Nov. 8, 1920, April 6, 13, May 4, 1921. Ibid. Abraham Flexner to Rhees, Nov. 15, 1920. Ibid. George W. Corner, George Hoyt Whipple and His Friends (Philadelphia, 1963), 112-116, 123. New York Times, Apr. 2, 1921. George H. Whipple, "Autobiographical Sketch," Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, II (1959), 269-270.
  8. Corner. Whipple, pp. 23-112. Whipple, op. cit. , 253-268.
  9. Whipple, op. cit., 272. Rush Rhees to Frank L. Babbott, Oct. 4, 1921. Rhees Papers.
  10. Corner, Whipple, p. 102. RT-U, May 13, 1955. Tucson (Arizona) Daily Citizen, April 6, 1963. Arizona Daily Star, Oct. 29, 1961.
  11. Whipple, op. cit., 283-284. Corner, Whipple, pp. 102, 201, 207, 278, 286-288, 297. Sol J. Appelbaum, 1904, "Story Behind Winning of the Nobel Prize," RAR, XIII (1934-35), no. 2, 33.
  12. Whipple, op. cit., 288, 253. Time, LXV, June 27, 1955, 55. Ibid., LXXVII, Mar 5, 1961, 24. Corner, Whipple, pp. 163-164. George H. Whipple to Lafayette B. Mendel, Jan. 16, 1928. Dean's Office, Medical School.
  13. Corner, Whipple, pp. 170-172. Whipple, op. cit., 269. Rush Rhees to Raymond N. Ball, July 28, 1926. Rhees Papers.
  14. Advisory Board Minutes, I-III (1922-1929), passim. These invaluable records are not complete; many decisions are not found in them. George Whipple, Planning and Construction Period of the School and Hospitals 1921-1925 (hereafter cited as Planning and Construction) (Rochester, 1957), pp. 18 ff. The First Decade 1926-1936 : The U. of R. School of Medicine and Dentistry [and] Strong Memorial Hospital (Rochester, 1936), passim. Corner, Whipple, pp. 138-145.
  15. Rush Rhees to Nathaniel W. Faxon and vice versa, a series of letters, Apr. 25-May 29, 1922. Rhees Papers. William S. McCann to Rhees, Feb. 10, 1923. Ibid. William L. Bradford to A. J. May, Nov. 30, 1965. Rhees Library Archives. RD&C, February 14, 1935. The News, Massachusetts General Hospital, no. 83, October, 1949.
  16. George W. Corner, Anatomist at Large (New York, 1958), pp. 42-63, passim, and pp. 135, 148. Abraham. J. Tatelbaum, 1928, to A. J. May, Feb. 13, 1967. Rhees Library Archives.
  17. Genesee Valley CHEMunications, II (1950), no. 1, 8 ff. RD&C,. Feb. 12, 1966.
  18. Abraham J. Tatelbaum to A. J. May, Feb. 13, 1967. Rhees Library Archives.
  19. U. of R. Medical Alumni News, Fall, 1961, 4-5.
  20. William S. McCann to George H. Whipple, Dec. 1, 1922 (copy). Rhees Papers. Ibid. to Rush Rhees, Jan. 10, 1923. Ibid. RD&C, July 13, 1927. RT-U, Dec. 14, 1965. Borborygmi (1957).
  21. Estelle E. Hawley, 1924, "Forty Years of Ramblings on the Medical Center," passim. Rhees Library Archives.
  22. RT-U, Nov. 18, 1965. Abraham J. Tatelbaum to A. J. May, Feb. 13, 1967. Rhees Library Archives.
  23. New York Times, March 5, 1916. The U. of R. received $855,157 from the Ross estate; $12,000 of the income was annually turned over to Mechanics Institute. Charles W. Dodge, "Vital Economics," a paper read to the Pundit Club, November 21, 1916. Rhees Library Archives. John R. Murlin, "How I Happened to Come to Rochester," Alumni News-Views, I (June, 1956). Rush. Rhees to Russell H. Chittenden, March 21, 1916. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Murlin and vice versa, July 10, 1917--June 29, 1918, January 3, 1919-August 21, 1919. Ibid, Rhees to L. Emmett Holt, September 27, 1917. Ibid. Rhees to Mrs. Daniel R. Clark, November 19, 1924. Ibid. Annual Catalogue, 1918-1919. Murlin to George H. Whipple, April 30, 1921. Dean's Office, Medical School. Whipple to Murlin, May 5, 1921. Ibid. Anon., "Honoring the Memory of Lewis Pratt Ross, " RAR, X (1931-1932), no. 2, 44. See, John R. Slater to Alan Valentine, October 4, 1944. Valentine Papers.
  24. Rush Rhees to John R. Murlin, May 8, 1923, Sept. 30, 1926, July 9, 1927, May 15, 1928. Rhees Papers. Murlin to Rhees, Sept. 25, 1926, July 7, 1927, June 8, 1928, Ibid. George H. Whipple to Rhees, June 19, 1928. Ibid. Anon., "Dr. Murlin Developing Successful Treatment for Diabetes," RAR, I (1922), no. 1, 8. Advisory Board Minutes, I, Sept. 20, 1922, April 13, 1923. Edmund S. Nasset, 1931, "John Raymond Murlin, Investigator, Teacher, Colleague," Journal of Nutrition, XXXI (1946), 1-12. Wallace O. Fenn, "John Raymond Murlin, 1874-1960, " Yearbook of the American Philosophical Society, (1961), 145-152. Estelle E. Hawley, op. cit. and "Background Data of Vital Economics," Rhees Library Archives. Brighton Pittsford Post, February 1, 1968.
  25. Corner, Anatomist at Large, p. 46. Abraham Flexner to Rush Rhees, Oct. 29, 1923. Rhees Papers. Telegram, Whipple et. al. to William H. Welch, April 7, 1930. Dean's Office, Medical School. Consult, Richard H. Shryock, The Unique Influence of the Johns Hopkins University on American Medicine (Copenhagen. 1953).
  26. Clarence P. Berg, "Henry A. Mattill," Journal of Nutrition, LXVI (1958), no. 1, 2-14. Lawrence A. Kohn, "The Rewards of Medicine," RAR, XXVIII 1966, no. 3, 18-20. RD&C, October 2, 1965, April 23, 1967 (Kohn). Ibid., April 23,1967 (Gibbs). Ibid. , March 16, 1926 (Birkhaug). Anon., "Balance, Precision and Beauty" (a booklet) (Rochester, 1935). Rhees Library Archives. RD&C, January 15, April 15, 1937, December 7,1965; New York Times, April 10, 1938; RT-U, December 7,1965 (Schwartz). U. of R. Medical Alumni News, Summer, 1960, 3 (Scott).
  27. Rush Rhees to Helen Wood and vice versa, January 13, 1923-May 14, 1923. Rhees Papers.
  28. Rochester Journal, Dec. 24, 1925. Rochester Herald, Jan. 11, 25, 26, 1926. RD&C, April 27, 1927, Oct. 2, 1965. Harper Sibley to Rush Rhees, Dec. 29, 1925. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Sibley, Dec. 31, 1925. Ibid. Rhees to George H. Whipple, Dec. 30, 1925, Jan. 13, 1926. Ibid. Raymond N. Ball to Rhees, May 2, 1927. Ibid. Rhees to George C. Ford, Jan. 4, Feb. 13, 1928. Ibid. Corner, Whipple, p. 167. Slater, Rhees, p. 215.
  29. Campus XLVI, Nov. 19, 1920. Rush Rhees to Winford H. Smith, and vice versa, March 20,June 12, 1920. Rhees Papers, Rhees to John Calvert, 1876, May 7, 1920. Ibid. C. M. Thoms (non-graduate, 1891) to Rhees, March 24-December 15, 1920, a, series of letters. Ibid. Rhees to the Trustees, September 6, 1921. Ibid. Corner, Whipple, pp. 128-130. Whipple, op. cit. , 271. Trustee Records, V, June 15, 1920, November 15, 1921.
  30. Howard B. Slavin, 1933, "Hope Hospital--The Rochester Municipal Hospital, 1869-1903," U. of R. Medical Alumni News, December, 1959, 677. Slavin, "The Emergence of Rochester's Great Health Officer, Dr. Goler," Ibid., March, 1960 6-7. Hiram B. Edgerton to Rush Rhees and vice versa, October 14, 1921. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Herbert W. Pierce, April 4, 1923, Ibid. Abraham Flexner to Rhees, May 7, 1923. Ibid. Executive Committee Minutes, VIII, April 20, 1923. President's Report, May 31, 1923. Whipple, op. cit., 276-277. Buffalo Department of Hospitals and Dispensaries, January 1, 1922, a pamphlet. RT-U, November 11, 1921. RD&C, June 16, I925.