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Early days of medical college recalled


From left, Paul Block, Jr., Gov. James Rhodes, Dr. Glidden L. Brooks, Dean Robert G. Page, and Lurley Archambeau in 1970 at the groundbreaking for the first permanent structure at the Medical College of Ohio — a $9.5 million health sciences building.

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A physician shortage, especially in small communities and rural areas, drove the establishment of the nation's 100th medical school.

The former Medical College of Ohio gleaned from a pool of nearly 400 first-year applicants 32 medical students for the fall, 1969, opening, nearly half from northwest Ohio. Medical education had returned to the Glass City for the first time since the former Toledo Medical College closed in 1914, and MCO was Ohio's fourth medical school.

"Our aim forever must be the pursuit of the knowledge of man in his entirety," MCO's first faculty member, Dr. Liberato J.A. DiDio, told students during the first lecture.

"To study the flesh, the skin, the bones, the organs, the nerves of man, is to equip our minds with a knowledge that will enable us to search beyond the body," the first chairman of the Department of Anatomy added.

Yet, in MCO's early years, there was a drug problem among students. One was a dealer possessing "a large stash of illegal chemicals;" another smoked marijuana and was suspended, according to MCO's first dean, Dr. Robert G. Page.

Those are some of the tidbits in A Community of Scholars: Recollections of the Early Years of the Medical College of Ohio, a 72-author collection of memoirs that gives highlights and also does not hide difficulties encountered during the school's first roughly 25 years. About 250 photos accompany the book's 36 chapters, which include accounts about MCO's departments, divisions, and schools. The book is available from the University of Toledo Press,

MCO's first president, Dr. Glidden L. Brooks, served from 1966 to 1971. He had predicted MCO would not remain freestanding, which came to pass in 2006 when it merged with the University of Toledo.

The "moving force" behind the medical school, according to then Gov. James A. Rhodes at its dedication, was Paul Block, Jr., The Blade's longtime co-publisher. The late Mr. Block was named to MCO's board after the medical school was established in 1964, and members elected him chairman.

"In many ways, he was the godfather of the new institution," writes Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, who became an MCO clinical faculty member in 1974 and was named to the UT Board of Trustees in 2007.

MCO had 65 faculty members for the first class of students in 1969, and it has long received help from other physicians throughout the area to teach students. UT's medical school now has more than 200 clinical associates, a faculty designation without rank or compensation.

Surgeons at MCO, led by Dr. Kenneth A. Kropp, performed northwest Ohio's first kidney transplant operation in 1972. Nearly 40 years later, the kidney transplant program continues at UT Medical Center.

On a nonmedical side note, the Troy, Mich., architectural firm that designed the twin towers of the World Trade Center developed MCO's master plan. By the time Dr. Richard Ruppert retired in 1993 after 16 years as MCO's president, the Yamasaki & Associates master plan was completed for the 350-acre campus with 10 buildings, which now has been expanded even further.



Edited by Dr. Shirley Ferguson Rayport, Dr. E. Dorinda Shelley, Dr. Peter White, and James Winkler. The University of Toledo Press. 372 pages. $30.


Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: or 419-724-6087.

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