Philosophy and History
The story of the Robert C Byrd Health Sciences Center of West Virginia University is a story of growth and change. WVU was established in 1867 as a land grant university. Some medical courses were part of the curriculum in the university's earliest years, but the first comprehensive medical education program was not established until 1903. An agreement with the College of Physicians in Baltimore allowed WVU students to complete their first two years of medical education in Morgantown and their final two years in Maryland.
In 1951, the West Virginia legislature passed a tax on soft drinks, known as the "pop tax," to fund the construction of University Hospital. In 1960, University Hospital opened and the WVU School of Medicine established a four-year curriculum. The School awarded its first medical degrees in 1962. The Pylons, located at the original entrance to the health sciences center are a work of art and reflect the history of medicine.
In 1972, the Charleston Division of the Health Sciences Center was established. Ruby Memorial Hospital opened in 1988, replacing University Hospital. Chestnut Ridge Hospital, a psychiatric and chemical dependency facility, also opened in 1988. The Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Physician Office Center, and Mountainview Rehabilitation Hospital opened in 1990. In 1993, the Health Sciences Center was named for U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd. The Eastern Division, WVU's second regional clinical campus, was established in 2002 to serve the health care needs of West Virginians in the eastern panhandle and to provide medical and health profession students opportunities to learn medicine in their communities.
Today, WVU's Robert C Byrd Health Sciences Campus is a large, modern health sciences complex that includes Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, and Pharmacy, three hospitals, a physician office building, and state-of-the-art cancer and eye centers. The School of Medicine serves more than 2,500 students with a variety of educational programs -- including medicine, physical and occupational therapy, medical technology, physical therapy, exercise physiology, continuing medical education, and others. Faculty members provide advanced clinical care to more than 100,000 West Virginians throughout the state. The institution is making major investments in new state-of-the-art facilities and improvements in education, research, and clinical care. Plans are underway for the construction of a $40 million research facility that will house the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute -- named for U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller's mother, who died of Alzheimer's disease. A new library and learning center will be completed in the spring of 2006 to serve our increasing number of students.
West Virginia University recently completed a process of re-evaluating its overall plans for the future in light of its historic mission as a Land Grant University, the needs of the people of West Virginia, and the responsibilities the state has placed on us as its flagship institution of higher education. The School of Medicine, including representatives of each of our campuses, was an integral part of the University's planning effort.
The adoption of the WVU 2020 Strategic Plan - and a companion plan created for the Health Sciences Center -- placed an obligation on each of the University's schools and colleges to revisit our activities and develop a strategic plan for our own future. The faculty, staff, and students of the School of Medicine approached this task with the knowledge that our decisions today will have a great impact on the next generation of students in each of our programs, and on our ability to reverse the historic health disparities that place a serious burden on individuals and families across our state.
Our first task was to define our mission and our vision. A strong consensus developed that we need to be very clear and very direct about these statements, as they would guide all of the participants in thinking about the specifics of our plan and in making decisions about how we should allocate resources. These statements distill the essence of what we do as a school:
The West Virginia University School of Medicine improves the lives of the people of West Virginia and beyond through excellence in patient care, education, research, and service to our communities.
The West Virginia University School of Medicine, leading the way to a healthier West Virginia
These statements informed the entire process of developing this School of Medicine Strategic Plan. The process by which the mission and vision were transformed to a plan is described in this document.
An enormous number of talented people contributed a great deal of work and thought to this process. But their work will become valuable only if we are able to move from planning, to action, and then to achievement. This plan will serve as a guide to our School's leadership and will be a yardstick by which our future actions can be measured.
Centers, Institutes, and Programs
Interdisciplinary Research Centers
School of Medicine -- M.D. & Ph.D., 143rd Commencement, West Virginia University
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