VCU Medical Center

VCU Medical Center
VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center
Motto Every Day, A New Discovery
Established 1838
Type Public university
Endowment US 199.9 million[1]
Dean Jerome Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Location United States Richmond, Virginia, USA
Campus Urban, 52.4 acres (212,000 m²)

VCU Medical Center, is Virginia Commonwealth University's medical campus located in downtown Richmond, Virginia in the Court End neighborhood. The VCU Medical Center used to be known as the Medical College of Virginia until it merged with the Richmond Professional Institute in 1968 to create Virginia Commonwealth University.

The VCU Medical Center is composed of five schools and is located on the MCV Campus.

  • School of Allied Health Professions
  • School of Dentistry
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Pharmacy


The VCU Medical Center

VCU Medical Center has 779 Licensed Beds with a total of 84,990 Emergency Department visits in 2010. There were 534,126 Outpatient Clinic Visits and a total of 19,727 Surgeries.[2]

Academic Rankings

School of Allied Health Professions[3]

  • 1st - Nurse Anesthesia
  • 4th - Health Services Administration
  • 13th - Occupational Therapy
  • 13th - Rehabilitation Counseling
  • 24th - Physical Therapy

School of Nursing[3]

  • 47th - Nursing

School of Medicine[3]

  • 66th - Medicine

School of Pharmacy[3]

  • 21st - Pharmacy

Hospital Rankings

  • 38th - Cancer[4]
  • 41st - Heart & Heart Surgery[4]
  • 20th - Rehabilitation[4]
  • 36th - Kidney Disorders[4]


New Construction

  • New School of Medicine, Phase I - a 158.6 million dollar, 12 story medical building, encompassing 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2). The new VCU School of Medicine would replace the AD Williams Clinic[5]

Recently Constructed

  • Massey Cancer Center - An 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) building with 72 research labs and a two-level, 109-car parking deck at $41.8 million[6]
  • Critical Care Hospital - Central Virginia's only level-one trauma center, the 15-story Critical Care Hospital specializes in intensive care[6]
  • Medical Sciences Building II - a 125,000 square feet (11,600 m2) research lab[6]
  • W. Baxter Perkinson, Jr Building - School of Dentistry. A 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2) addition to School of Dentistry on Leigh Street; housing research, clinic and teaching space[6]
  • New School of Nursing - an additional 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) of research and training space to the VCU nursing program[6]
  • MCV Campus Recreation Center - a 31,000 square feet (2,900 m2) addition to the Recreation and Aquatic Center[6]
  • Larrick Student Center - renovated MCV campus dining court[6]

History of the Medical College of Virginia/ VCU Medical Center

The First 125 Years of the Medical College of Virginia by Thelma Vaine Hoke provides history of MCV from 1838 - 1963.[7]

Sanger Hall, part of the VCU medical campus

The Founding

On December 1, 1837, the president and trustees of Hampden-Sydney College created a medical department to be located at Richmond.[8]

Founders of the college

Dr. Richard Lafon Bohannan – Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children [9]

Dr. Lewis Webb Chamberlayne - Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics [10]

Dr. John Cullen – Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine [9]

Dr. Augustus Lockman Warner – Dean and Professor of Surgery and Surgical Anatomy [9]

Dr. Socrates Maupin – Professor of Chemistry and Pharmacy [10]

Dr. Thomas Johnson – Professor of Anatomy and Physiology [10]

The First Year

The college opened on November 5, 1838 in the old Union Hotel located at the corner of Nineteenth and Main Streets.[11] MCV was founded in 1838 as the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College. There were forty-six students enrolled in the first class lasting from November 5, 1838 – April 4, 1839.[12] Students paid $20 to the professors for each of the six courses.[13]

The Years 1850-1861

The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College received an independent charter from the General Assembly in 1854 and became the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), and shortly thereafter transferred all its property to the Commonwealth and became a state institution in 1860.[14] There had not been for a separate hospital where patients had been housed within the College buildings since the beginning. A new hospital was built, known as the College Infirmary, was built at a cost of $22,336.57 and opened in April, 1861.[15]

The Civil War

Soon the Civil War erupted, and the College found itself playing an important role in the education of Confederate surgeons and in the hospital care of wounded and sick military personnel.[16] During the Civil War, the school remained open and it graduated a class every year throughout the conflict. The MCV is the only Southern medical school still in existence to have done so.[17]

The Years 1866-1881

In 1867, the College’s first outpatient clinic was established when the faculty agreed to cooperate with the Freedmen’s Bureau and the City of Richmond in the establishment of a “dispensary for the relief of the sick poor, both white and colored.”[18]

The University College of Medicine

A second medical school, the "College of Physicians and Surgeons" (later the "University College of Medicine"), was founded by Dr. Hunter McGuire in 1893, just two squares from the Egyptian Building.[19] The new college was composed of three schools: medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. The University College of Medicine was destined to have a life span of only twenty years as an independent institution. The Flexner Report of 1909 suggested that the two schools would be better off merging, which they then did in 1913, retaining the Medical College of Virginia name.[20]

1913 Rankings with Dr. Christopher Tompkins

Dr. Christopher Tompkins said in a talk as he was retiring from being the Dean in 1913, ”From a school whose matriculants numbered, as I can remember it, 22 during the session and whose standing amongst medical colleges in the country was so insignificant that it was not worth noticing, the matriculants have increased to – in one sessions – as many as 306. In a recent table compiled December 1911, from the reports of the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association, it was found that of all the medical colleges in the United States and taking them in the order in which their graduates passed the various medical examining boards, the Medical College of Virginia stood fourth; the order in which they came being, (1) Ruse, (2) John Hopkins, (3) Cornell, (4) Medical College of Virginia, and about one hundred and forty behind them.”[21]

Should Virginia Support two Medical Schools

The year 1920 revived a discussion that had gone on for years without resolution of the issues involved. Repeatedly, the view had been expressed that the Medical College of Virginia and the University of Virginia Department of Medicine might well be consolidated with benefit both to the schools and to the public. In 1867, 1905, and 1913 the question emerged, and, finally, in 1920 a really serious study was undertaken. In reviewing appropriations. Governor Westmoreland Davis noted that Virginia was supporting two medical schools, seemingly in competition and surmised that this might well be uneconomic, particularly at a time when money was tight. Acting on the Governor's recommendation, the General Assembly authorized a Commission on Medical Education. The Commission made a thorough study. It recommended that Virginia support only one medical school, that this school be in Richmond, and that it be the Department of Medicine of the University of Virginia under the full and sole control of the Rector and Visitors of the University, and, finally, that the plan be effective upon the unconditional transfer of all Medical College of Virginia properties and assets to the Rector and Visitors of the University. The Board of Visitors of the Medical College of Virginia was in favor and by resolution determined that the College would willingly embrace the plan should the Commission's recommendations be accepted by the Legislature. Instead, the alumni of the University under the leadership of the eminent Dr. Hugh Young of Johns Hopkins Medical School waged a mighty campaign to preserve the medical school in status quo at Charlottesville. The report was approved overwhelmingly in the House, but died by a 24-16 tally in the Senate. In view of the state's growth, the action of the Senate was most fortunate. Had the report won approval, Virginia would have found herself today facing the organization of another medical school with a minimum price tag of 30 million dollars. The issue was to rise again in 1947, but only briefly, as the handwriting on the wall was by that time quite clear.[22]

The Great Depression and Expansion

The Great Depression struck the College with perhaps more force than in the case of some other institutions; for MCV was struggling desperately to secure funds without which highly specialized structures and highly talented and trained personnel, both expensive, simply could not be had. Plans laid prior to 1930 with early fruition apparently possible had to be put aside, notably the projected laboratory and outpatient building. Salaries, never high, had to be cut.[23] By 1941, the modern 600-bed, 18- story MCV Hospital was completed; the Egyptian Building had been completely reconstructed to provide up-to date facilities for the departments of bacteriology and pathology, and the 300-seat Simon Baruch Auditorium in the Egyptian motif, named for Dr. Simon Baruch, class of 1862, whose distinguished son, Bernard M. Baruch, helped make the restoration possible. Also by 1941, new quarters were provided for the departments of physiology and pharmacology by adding a fourth story to McGuire Hall. In the brief span of five years, a truly magnificent and unprecedented program of physical expansion had been completed. A few muttered about excessive emphasis on bricks and mortar, but those who faced facts realized that modern education in the complex health fields cannot be conducted a la Mark Hopkins. Colleges are people, but the most talented students and the ablest faculty are helpless without adequate buildings and proper equipment! [24]

The Years 1956-1963

The interest of individuals, organizations, and agencies, other than those of the Commonwealth, may be gauged by their provision, since 1956, of gifts, grants, and contracts for teaching, research, and capital improvements totaling a little over $15 million. Reflecting the stimulating influence of such support, the College is fully accredited, with University status, and alive with enthusiasm, as the faculty and staff go about their mission of providing for the education of some 1200 students enrolled in 10 schools and courses, plus some 200 young physicians in residence for further training, of caring for the sick who occupy its 1308 beds, and finally, of seeking new knowledge for their benefit. [25] The $6,500,000 Medical Education Building was completed in the summer of 1963. It was the most important addition to the physical plant of the College since the completion of the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in 1940. With the added facilities of this building, the school of medicine was able to increase enrollment from 84 to 128 students.[26]

Becoming VCU

In 1968, the state legislature merged the Medical College of Virginia with the Richmond Professional Institute to form the Virginia Commonwealth University. During this merger, the agreement stipulated that the MCV would retain its name in perpetuity. The exact title by the act was "The Medical College of Virginia Health Sciences Division of Virginia Commonwealth University."

Envisioning a Great Urban University

At the 1969 convocation for VCU, Dr. Brandt envisioned a great urban University, stating, "we are caught up in a thing you might call the Virginia Commonwealth University Idea. It's an exciting academic approach without precedent, VCU will become a name that will mean a great deal to you in years to one of the leading educational institutions."[27]

2004 Name change

The previous administration led by President Eugene P. Trani had pursued a policy of promoting the VCU name as a unified identity to the outside world. This policy had included directing faculty, staff and students to use the VCU name instead of MCV in any official meetings or correspondence. This was accomplished by first the creation of the MCV Hospital Authority, ostensibly to better administer the MCV Hospitals, to a later name change of this Authority to the VCU Health System Authority (with MCV Hospitals being a component thereof). This Authority under the direction of Sheldin Retchin, MD then went about changing the physical appearance of the structures and advertising materials, to include letter head and websites. The faculty and medical students at that time were instructed at that time to cease referring to the instition as the medical college of virginia. The main cited evidence for this was mis-representation of the insitution in the press. Dr Retchin in 2004 sent an e-mail that described a 2003 front-page USA Today article which incorrectly referred to MCV as the "Virginia Medical College, a teaching arm of the University of Virginia," when in fact MCV is not a part of the University of Virginia. The VCU Medical Center now resides on the MCV Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Since that time, the schools of that institution have been listed as a part of the VCU Medical Center versus as a part of a university.

A Major Research University

VCU expanded its research programs significantly over the past decade and has over $255 million in sponsored research. In 2010, VCU was selected by the NIH for a $20 million grant to become part of a nationwide consortium of research institutions working to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients.[28]


Finished in 1845, the first MCV building was built in the Egyptian-revival style


  • 1838 The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College opens
  • 1844 The Medical Department moves into its first permanent home, the Egyptian Building
  • 1854 The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College receives an independent charter from the Virginia General Assembly and becomes the Medical College of Virginia
  • 1860 In return for a $30,000 appropriation MCV conveys all its property to the Commonwealth of Virginia and becomes a state institution
  • 1861 A new hospital opens constructed with funds acquired in 1860
  • 1861-65 During the American Civil War MCV remained opened and graduated a class each year of the war. It is the only southern school still in existence with this distinction.
  • 1867 MCVs first outpatient clinic established
  • 1879 The Virginia General Assembly amended MCVs charter to allow the College to confer a degree in pharmacy
  • 1893 College of Physicians and Surgeons, later University College of Medicine, was established by Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire just three blocks away from MCV
  • 1894 MCV medical curriculum is lengthened to three years
  • 1897 MCV establishes a School of Dentistry
  • 1898 MCV establishes a School of Pharmacy with a two-year program
  • 1900 MCV lengthens its medical curriculum to four years
  • 1903 Memorial Hospital opens as a private hospital but is used by the faculty at MCV
  • 1909 Dr. Abraham Flexner visits UCM and MCV as a part of his survey of American and Canadian medical schools
  • 1912 McGuire Hall opens as the new home of the University College of Medicine
  • 1913 MCV and UCM merged through the efforts of Dr. George Ben Johnston and Dr. Stuart McGuire. MCV acquired the Memorial Hospital as a result of the merger
  • 1920 St. Philip School of Nursing of the Medical College of Virginia opens
  • 1925 Dr. William T. Sanger, former secretary for the State Board of Education, becomes MCV's third president
  • 1925 Nursing program is given recognition as a full collegiate school with its own dean
  • 1925 Pharmacy curriculum extended to three years
  • 1926 Dr. William Branch Porter named the first full-time professor of medicine
  • 1928 Nursing Education Building (formerly Cabaniss Hall) opens
  • 1932 Four year program in pharmacy leading to at B.S. degree is established.
  • 1932 Tompkins-McCaw Library opens
  • 1938 MCV celebrates its centennial
  • 1938 New laboratory and outpatient clinic opened (A. D. Williams Memorial Clinic). The building was constructed with a Public Works Administration grant of $239,850
The West Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, postmarked 1942
  • 1941 The new MCV Hospital (MCV West Hospital) opens to national acclaim
  • 1942-45 MCV organizes a medical unit to serve during the war. General Hospital 45 serves in North Africa and Italy
  • 1947 The first civilian burn unit in the country was established at MCV under the direction of Dr. Everett Evans
  • 1952 First Ph.D. degree was awarded. (Pharmacology)
  • 1953 Program leading to a B.S. degree in nursing established
  • 1956 Dr. Robert Blackwell Smith becomes the fourth and last president of MCV
  • 1956-58 E. G. Williams Hospital opens in two phases
  • 1960 Pharmacy curriculum is extended to five years
  • 1963 Medical Education Building (named for William T. Sanger in 1970) opens
  • 1968 The first heart transplant at the Medical College of Virginia is performed by Dr. Richard R. Lower
  • 1968 Virginia Commonwealth University is created through the merger of Richmond Professional Institute and the Medical College of Virginia
  • 1969 The School of Allied Health Professions established
  • 1969 School of Nurse Anesthesia organized
  • 1974 MCV/VCU Cancer Center is established with a grant from the National Cancer Institute
  • 1982 MCV Main Hospital opens, a modern, 14 story, 539 bed facility costing in excess of $60 million dollars
  • 1983 Massey Cancer Center opens
  • 1988 VCU celebrates its sesquicentennial
  • 1995 Six year Doctor of Pharmacy Program adopted to replace the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree
  • 1996 Virginia Biotechnology Research Park opens
  • 1997 Medical College of Virginia Hospitals Authority is created
  • 2000 Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority is established
  • 2002 Inova Campus of the VCU School of Medicine is created
  • 2006 VCU Health System receives Magnet Status[30]

Architecture and Design

The Egyptian Building at the VCU Medical Center
  • The Centennial Dome - now known as the Larrick Student Center. The dome was built on the campus in 1961, and was a major part of the city's commemoration of the centennial of the Civil War and was operated by the Civil War Centennial Commission through 1965.[26]
  • Egyptian Building - The Egyptian Building was to fulfill “his highest conception of a building adapted in every way to the purposes for which it was dedicated.” The structure was completed in 1845.[31] The college is unusual in having been constructed in the Egyptian Revival style. The only other university built in this style was the College of Cape Town, South Africa, now the University of Cape Town.
  • The Three Bears - The sculpture of the Three Bears that now rests on the first floor of the Gateway Building has served as an unofficial mascot and symbol for the MCV Hospitals for more than sixty years. Dr. William T. Sanger, President of the Medical College of Virginia from 1925 to 1956, saw the original sculpture of the bear group in January of 1940. The bears, created by noted American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, were displayed at Brookgreen Gardens, the renowned sculpture garden and nature retreat created in South Carolina by Huntington and her husband Archer Milton Huntington. Sanger thought the bears would make a nice addition to the entrance court for the new Medical College of Virginia Hospital on Broad Street that opened in January of 1941. Huntington agreed to make a copy of the bears and she and her husband donated the sculpture to the Medical College of Virginia on October 9, 1941. The copy of the bears was cast in stone, not the original gray bronze because the metal was unavailable due to the war conditions in Europe. Sanger believed the bears were an appropriate subject for a sculpture at a medical institution.[32]



Hoke, Thelma (1963). The First 125 Years of the Medical College of Virginia. 

External links

Coordinates: 37°32′25″N 77°25′45″W / 37.540341°N 77.429152°W / 37.540341; -77.429152

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