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.