The Early Years
Founded in 1817, the University of Michigan established various health sciences schools and colleges during its first century, including the Medical School, School of Dentistry, College of Pharmacy, and the roots of the School of Public Health and School of Nursing. In 1869, U-M became the first U.S. university to own and operate its own hospital, and was one of the first major medical schools to teach science-based medicine. Near the end of the 19th Century, research started to become central to the university’s mission, and U-M continues that tradition of excellence to this day.
The origins of the University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is founded in Detroit in 1817. In 1837, the Board of Regents held its first meeting in Ann Arbor and formally accepted the proposal by the town to locate the university there. The first college-level classes were held at U-M in Ann Arbor in 1841.
Beginnings of the U-M School of Dentistry
The U-M School of Dentistry is founded as the College of Dental Surgery, making U-M the first state university in the world and the second university in the U.S. to offer education in dentistry. The college was renamed the School of Dentistry in 1927.
Public Health moves to new graduate division
The Board of Regents highlights the interdisciplinary nature of public health by moving programs from the Medical School to a new Graduate School Division of Hygiene.
“The Social and Economic Aspects of Public Health and Medicine”
“The Social and Economic Aspects of Public Health and Medicine,” believed to be first course on medical care organization and financing offered at a U.S. university, is taught at U-M.
First master of social work degree
U-M offers its first master of social work degree (MSW) through the Institute of Public and Social Administration (later to become the Institute of Social Work in 1946).
Sinai helps develop voluntary health insurance plan
U-M’s Nathan Sinai, a professor of Hygiene and Public Health, develops a voluntary health insurance plan with the Michigan State Medical Society that later becomes a prototype for Blue Shield.
“Public Health Economics and Medical Care Abstracts” published
Public Health Economics and Medical Care Abstracts [which eventually became Medical Care Review (1967) and subsequently Medical Care Research and Review (1995)] is published by the U-M Bureau of Public Health Economics in the School of Public Health [see next].
Regents approve Bureau of Public Health Economics
The Board of Regents approves the Bureau of Public Health Economics within the School of Public Health. Its Medical Care Reference Collection becomes the nation’s primary source of archival information on community aspects of medical care.
Institute for Social Research established at U-M
The Institute for Social Research (ISR), among the world’s largest and oldest academic survey research organizations, and a leader in the development and application of social science methods and education, is established at U-M. ISR’s portfolio of work includes a breadth of research examining the relationships between human health, behavior, and social factors. Rensis Likert, an organizational psychologist and developer of the Likert Scale, served as ISR’s first director (pictured at left with Angus Campbell, ISR’s co-founder and second director).
Thomas Francis Jr. concludes field trials of Salk polio vaccine
SPH Professor Thomas Francis Jr. concludes the two-year national field trials of the Salk polio vaccine, and on April 12 announces to the world that the vaccine developed by his former student Jonas Salk is “safe, effective, and potent.”
Tecumseh Community Health Study launches
The Tecumseh Community Health Study begins through the efforts of SPH and other U-M faculty, focusing on behavioral, environmental, and family factors associated with cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. The study focused on the entire community of Tecumseh, Michigan, rather than a representative sample. The investigators were able to quantify the role of a number of factors involved in the development of coronary heart disease.