The Foundation of the University of Oregon Medical School
In the spring of 1887, several Willamette medical faculty members suddenly resigned. Accounts of the dispute differ, with some pointing to issues regarding faculty reorganization and the appointment of a new chair of obstetrics. Among the dissenters were Simeon E. Josephi, M.D., and Kenneth A.J. Mackenzie, M.D., who worked quickly with other physicians to establish a school at the University of Oregon. Within a few months, the University of Oregon granted a charter to establish a second medical school in Portland, Oregon.
The two-room converted grocery store that served as the school’s first location was situated on a busy intersection in the heart of Northwest Portland. It housed a lecture room on the ground floor and a dissecting room above. A trap door in the floor rigged with a block and tackle was used to haul cadavers to the second floor. Two years later, in 1889, the school moved to a new, larger facility on 23rd and Lovejoy. Josephi, the school’s first dean, described the new facility as a “well-equipped medical college.”
Merging the Schools
In 1912, Mackenzie succeeded Josephi as dean. The first significant change he directed was the merger with the Willamette University Medical Department. Willamette had returned to Salem in 1895 and, with the limited number of clinical facilities in the smaller city, had struggled to exist. At a University of Oregon Medical School faculty meeting in early 1913, the president of the university and the dean of Willamette’s medical school proposed consolidation. A merger was completed by March. With the merger, the University of Oregon Medical School became the only institution north of San Francisco and west of Denver to offer a full course of medical instruction.