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.

Major Historical Events:

  • 1903 College of Medicine established with an affiliation with College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore, MD.
  • 1912 An independent school offering a 2 year basic science curriculum is established.
  • 1912 John H. Simpson named first Dean.
  • 1945 Medical Technology program established within the School.
  • 1951 WV Legislature passes the "Pop Tax" to fund construction of a new health sciences center and teaching hospital.
  • 1957 School moves from main campus to new Health Sciences Building.
  • 1960 A complete 4 year curriculum is established and University Hospital opens for patients.
  • 1961 First Physical Therapy graduates awarded degrees.
  • 1962 First Doctor of Medicine - MD degrees awarded.
  • 1962 Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Chapter established.
  • 1972 Charleston Division established.
  • 1988 Ruby Memorial Hospital opens replacing original University Hospital and includes Children's Hospital, and Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center; Chestnut Ridge Psychiatric Hospital opens.
  • 1990 Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center opens; Physician Office Center opens replacing the old ambulatory clinics; Mountainview Rehabilitation Hospital opens.
  • 1993 Name changes to Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at West Virginia University in honor of longstanding US Senator Robert C. Byrd.
  • 1999 First Graduates in Occupational Therapy.
  • 1999 Clark Sleeth Family Medicine Center opens on the ground floor of the RCBHSC.
  • 2000 Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) opens.
  • 2001 WVU Eye Institute opens.
  • 2002 Eastern Division established.