School History

The story of West Virginia University's Health Sciences Center is a story of growth and change. WVU was established as a land grant university and named the Agricultural College of West Virginia in 1867. Just a year later the name was changed to West Virginia University.

Today, WVU's Health Sciences Campus is a large, modern medical complex that includes Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health, three hospitals, a physician office building, state-of-the-art cancer and eye centers and a $40 million facility that houses the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, named for U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller's mother, who died of Alzheimer's disease.

The School of Medicine serves more than 2,500 students with a variety of educational programs -- including medicine, physical and occupational therapy, laboratory science (formerly medical technology), exercise physiology, continuing medical education, public health sciences and others. Faculty members provide advanced clinical care to more than 100,000 West Virginians throughout the state. The institution is making a major investment in new state-of-the-art facilities and improvements in education, research, and clinical care.

Ruby Hospital underwent an expansion of beds and operating rooms beginning in 2003, and plans for additional expansion including another more than 100 bed patient care tower and new emergency department facilities are in progress.

  • October 2019:

    Department of Neuroradiology forms and names Ansaar T. Rai, M.D., M.B.A., as chair.

  • August 2019:

    The WVU Cancer Institute demonstrates compliance with the standards of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx®) and becomes the first Radiation Oncology Department in the state to receive four-year accreditation.

  • May 2019:

    The West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) unveils its new 78,000-square-foot Innovation Center. The Center is a dedicated building featuring the latest technology for rapid applied human research. This unique facility has unparalleled capabilities in Human Performance and Recovery, Neuromodulation, Virtual Realty, Imaging, and Neuroscience Predictive Data Analytics – all under one roof.

  • July 2018:

    Launching with the Class of 2022, the new Mountaineer Accelerated Track to Enter Residency, or MATTER program, provides a fast-track curriculum option— allowing medical students to graduate earlier and with less debt.

     

  • June 2018:

    Patrice A. Harris, M.D., a psychiatrist from Atlanta, Ga., is elected as the president of the American Medical Association (AMA).  Dr. Harris received her medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed a psychiatry residency

  • June 2018:

    To meet growing healthcare needs locally and statewide, the School of Medicine launches a new physician assistant education program. The 26-month, full-time graduate program will lead to a master’s degree in health sciences. The program begins accepting students in January 2020 and is comprised of four semesters of classroom instruction, followed by a full year of clinical training.

  • April 2018:

    Larry A. Rhodes, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist and former chair of the Department of Pediatrics, is named assistant dean for health sciences programs at the University’s Beckley Campus.

  • October 2017:

    WVU opens the Inhalation Facility for research and collaborations that measure, identify and discover how the particles we breathe affect our health.

  • 2012:

    The Department of Community Medicine breaks away from the School of Medicine and becomes the 5th school in the comprehensive health sciences center with the establishment of the first School of Public Health in the state of West Virginia

  • 2012:

    Dean Ross establishes three new departments: Translational Research, Radiation Oncology and Medical Education

  • 2011:

    WVU Hospitals and University Health Associates execute a joint operating agreement for the clinical enterprise and begin operating as WVUHealthcare

  • 2011:

    School of Medicine celebrates 50 years of offering accredited GME programs which began in 1961 with Surgery, Anesthesia, Pediatrics and Internal Medicine

  • 2010:

    Chancellor Colenda names Arthur J. Ross, III, MD as the Dean of the School of Medicine

  • 2009:

    University President Clements appoints Christopher Colenda, MD, MPH as the first Chancellor for Health Sciences

  • 2009:

    STEPS Center opens as the first multidisciplinary simulation education center for students and residents training on the Morgantown campus

  • 2009:

    Erma Byrd Biomedical Research Building opens and Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center expansion opens

  • 2007:

    Learning Center opens with library renovation, new classrooms, and atrium

  • 2005:

    Ruby Memorial Hospital expansion opens

  • 2004:

    Capital campaign reaches its goal of $100 million

  • 2002:

    Eastern Panhandle Division established

  • 2001:

    WVU Physicians of Charleston (WVUPC) begins operation as separate practice plan, supporting the mission of the School of Medicine's Charleston Campus

  • 2001:

    WVU Eye Institute opens

  • 2000:

    Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (RNI) opens

  • 1999:

    Clark Sleeth Family Medicine Center opens on the ground floor of the HSC

  • 1999:

    First Graduates in Occupational Therapy

  • 1998:

    First MPH degree awarded

  • 1993:

    Exercise Physiology transfers from College of Physical Education

  • 1993:

    In 1993, the name of the Health Sciences Center was changed to Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at West Virginia University in honor of longstanding U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd.

  • 1990:

    The Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center (MBRCC), Physician Office Center, and Mountainview Rehabilitation Hospital opened in 1990. The Physician Office Center replaced the old ambulatory clinics.

  • 1988:

    UHA opens its first clinic at Cheat Lake location

  • 1988:

    Ruby Memorial Hospital opened in 1988, replacing University Hospital, and includes: Children's Hospital, Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center, and Chestnut Ridge Hospital, a psychiatric and chemical dependency facility, also opened in 1988.

  • 1985:

    UHA opens the first MRI in West Virginia

  • 1972:

    In 1972, the Charleston Division of the Health Sciences Center was established, the first medical school branch campus in the nation.

  • 1971:

    Incorporation of faculty practice plan known as University Health Associates

  • 1962:

    Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society Chapter established

  • 1962:

    The School awarded its first Doctor of Medicine - MD degrees in 1962.

  • 1961:

    First Physical Therapy graduates awarded degrees

  • 1960:

    In 1960, University Hospital opened and the WVU School of Medicine established a four-year curriculum and the University Hospital opens for patients.

  • 1957:

    School moves from main campus to new Health Sciences Building with the Pylons marking the entrance to the building. The Pylons are a work of art, reflecting the history that marks the entrance to the health sciences center.

  • 1951:

    In 1951, the West Virginia legislature passed a tax on soft drinks, known as the "pop tax," to fund the construction of new health sciences center and University Hospital.

  • 1945:

    Medical Technology program established within the School

  • 1916:

    The Two-Year Medical School Building (1916-1957) featured three floors for classrooms, plus a basement for the preparation and storage of cadavers. The basement abounded with rats, and students had to carry their own cadavers up from the basement to an outside door, around the exterior of the building, then back in and up three flights to the gross anatomy labs located on the top floor.

  • 1912:

    John H. Simpson named first Dean

  • 1912:

    Independent school offering a 2 year basic science curriculum is established

  • 1903:

    Some medical courses were part of the curriculum in the university's earliest years, but the first comprehensive medical education program was not established until 1903. An agreement with the College of Physicians in Baltimore allowed WVU students to complete their first two years of medical education in Morgantown and their final two years in Maryland.

  • 1887:

    The HICK HOUSE was the first medical school building in the State of West Virginia. Constructed in 1892 in Falling Run Hollow below Woodburn Hall, it was intended to provide space for dissection of about 10 cadavers. Dr. James Hartington, appointed to the university faculty in 1887 as the first full time Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Hygiene secured the $350 needed to construct the 14" x 20" building. It served Medical instruction for about ten years and provided material for area storytellers for many more. The origins of the name "Hick" are not known, but it probably represents a local corruption of the Latin burial phrase "Hic Jacet" (here lies…). Whether true or not, cadavers here were known as "hicks," rather than "stiffs."