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Drexel University College of Medicine History

Archive photo of the Hering Clinical Laboratory at Drexel University College of Medicine.

1848 – 2002

In 1848, the Homeopathic College of Pennsylvania was established by Constantine Hering, Jacob Jeanes and Walter Williamson to provide training in what was then an emerging system of medicine called homeopathy. In 1869, the Homeopathic College was renamed in honor of Samuel Hahnemann, one of the pioneers of homeopathic medicine, as Hahnemann Medical College. In 1982, Hahnemann Medical College gained university status as Hahnemann University.

In 1850, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (1850-1867), which later became the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (1867-1970) and then the Medical College of Pennsylvania (1970-1995), was established by Quaker businessmen, clergy and physicians. Headed by philanthropist William J. Mullen, the school became the world's first medical school for women.

Doctor or Doctress? Explore American history through the stories of women physicians.

Doctor or Doctress?

Visit the Doctor or Doctress? website. Explore American history through the stories of women physicians.

The two medical schools continued their parallel histories of innovation and excellence for nearly a century and a half. In 1987, MCP and its affiliate hospitals were acquired by Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation (AHERF). In 1993, AHERF acquired Hahnemann Medical College and its affiliated hospital. Eventually, the two medical schools were merged to form the MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine of Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, the largest private medical school in the country. Just a few years after this historic merger, the parent corporation of the medical school, AHERF, declared bankruptcy in 1998.

Following the AHERF bankruptcy, the California-based Tenet Healthcare Corporation acquired Allegheny University's facilities as part of a larger acquisition of Philadelphia-area hospitals, clinics and other properties belonging to AHERF, but Tenet required an academic partner to run the university's medical college and other schools. The assets of Allegheny University were transferred to a newly created nonprofit entity doing business as MCP Hahnemann University, and Drexel University agreed to assume operation of the new university.

Archive photo of a women's anatomy class, 1903, at Drexel University College of Medicine.

One of the early benefits of MCP Hahnemann's affiliation with Drexel was the upgrade to the computing environments on both campuses. Drexel was soon rated by Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine as the 16th most wired university in the United States. By the Fall 2001 term, all Drexel academic buildings were fully "wireless-networked" as well, and MCP Hahnemann became the first medical school in the U.S. to have a fully wireless campus.

In 2002, the Drexel University board of trustees voted unanimously in favor of merging MCP Hahnemann University into Drexel. The official date of the merger was July 1, 2002; Drexel had added the nation's largest private medical school, an outstanding college of nursing and health professions and one of only two schools of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The medical school became Drexel University College of Medicine. The trustees also approved an agreement between Drexel and Tenet Healthcare Corporation for a 20-year affiliation that continued the partnership between the College of Medicine and Tenet's teaching hospitals in the Philadelphia area.

The post-merger Drexel would qualify to join the 51 private universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation as Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive, including Carnegie-Mellon, MIT, Caltech and Penn. Drexel also became one of the top 100 U.S. universities in federal research expenditures and market value of endowment.

Read a Q&A with Joanne Murray, director of the Legacy Center: Archives & Special Collections, which appeared in the Summer/Fall 2014 issue of the College of Medicine's Alumni Magazine. You may also visit the Legacy Center website to learn more about the College and its history.

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