History of the Sewanee Medicine

The temporal, intrinsic Sewanee Medical College was founded in December of 1891. As an extension of the University, it was built upon the ideals of the founding fathers, Polk and Otey. They spoke of pursuing an institution that would embrace the traditional form of education—a comprehensive and intellectual feat. The school had its first graduating class in 1892, which was noted to be “a great success’ in the their Cap and Gown yearbook. By success, many of the deans and students were referencing the financial stability and academic reputation. With regards to the academic integrity, the Sewanee Medical school shall be noted for its impressive faculty with members like John S. Cain and William B. Hall (Picture 1). These professors, (picture 2), truly emanated the ideals which the legendary Hodgson hoped of achieving. In light of this teaching aspect, the students at the medical school were subject to a variety of intense courses ranging from botany to obstetrics (picture 3). J.P. Corley, from the class of 1900, noted that his classes were difficult yet somewhat familiar. This close teacher student relationship was one of the preeminent factors in keeping the school thriving. Other members who attended the school such as Nurse Bessie described the school in a frantic way. Miss Bessie stated how in one moment she was having dinner with one of her professors and the next she began doing surgery with him on the bottom floor of the Hodgson hospital (picture 4). Incidentally, the nature of this program was only efficient to a certain extent. Over the years, there were an increasing amount of regulations that ultimately led to the closing of the school.

Throughout the short life of the medical school, finances were constantly a struggle, and as changes were being made in medical education, Sewanee could not keep up. Many of the advancements being implemented either proved impossible to adequately and successfully adopt, or were too expensive. Student tuition could not cover everything, and over time, the department built up a large deficit from it all. The reputation of the entire University was at stake, so Benjamin Wiggins made the statement “If we are going to have a medical school at all, it should be a good one.” Therefore, to save the reputation of the University of the South, the Medical College closed in 1909. However, medical learning at Sewanee did not end there. Sewanee has both Pre-Med and Pre-Health tracks for students who are considering attending medical school (or nursing, dentistry, veterinary schools) beyond graduation.

Photo 1: Dr. Cain is in the center, the other faculty are surrounding him

Photo 2 : A List of the faculty from the years 1893, 1894, 1895

Photo 3: A list of the classes from the year 1984

Photo 4,5,6: Hodgson Hospital exterior, microscopic, and chemical lab

Works Cited

Corley, J. P. "Reminiscence of a Medical Alumnus." Greensboro, Alabama: n.p., n.d. 1-36. Print.

"Corley Writes Reminiscences of Old Medical School." Sewanee Alumni News Aug. 01946, 12th ed.: 9. Print.

"Medical Department." Cap and Gown [Sewanee] 1907: 32-33. Print.

Medical Department: Cap and Gown. Sewanee, TN: U of the Souh, 1909. Print.

Medical Department: Cap and Gown. Sewanee, TN: U of the South, 1910. Print.

Medical Department: Cap and Gown. Sewanee: U of the South, 1892. Print.

Williamson, Samuel R., Gerald L. Smith, Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Jon Meacham, Bran Potter, Gerald L. Smith, Sean T. Suarez, W. B. Patterson, George Core, James Waring. McCrady, Charles A. Israel, Woody Register, Donald S. Armentrout, R. Celeste. Ray, Houston Bryan. Roberson, Bertram Wyatt-Brown, James Waring. McCrady, James Waring. McCrady, and Gerald L. Smith. "College or University: Professional Education at the University of the South, 1875-1915." Sewanee Perspectives: On the History of the University of the South. Sewanee, TN: U of the South, 2008. 307-32. Print.

Also, Pictures and Historical Documents Courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections: The University of the South

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