College of

History of the College

50th Anniversary Video - MSU College of Human Medicine: 1964 - 2014 VIDEO
"Formula for MSU Medical School" historical film featuring Dean Andrew D. Hunt, Jr., 1966 VIDEO        

Since 1966, the College of Human Medicine has educated physicians and claims a national reputation for its social mission - producing MDs to practice medicine in Michigan's underserved areas. Today the college is recognized nationally for its excellence in and commitment to patient-centered medicine.

From 1959–61, several reports demonstrated the need for a third medical school in Michigan focused specifically on serving the state's population through direct involvement in community health care. In 1961, the Michigan State Board of Trustees decided to begin a two-year medical program that it would strengthen and be strengthened by complementary areas of the university. The preparatory work was carried by the Institute of Medicine and Biology in the provost's office, under the direction of Bill Knisley, who played a key role in the formation of the College of Human Medicine and the building of MSU's Life Sciences Building. Several grants aided the development of the program and in 1964 the Board of Trustees named Andrew D. Hunt, MD, dean of the College of Human Medicine.

In June 1965, the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, the American Medical Association's accreditation arm, granted a letter of "reasonable assurance" to the College of Human Medicine, permitting MSU to admit its first medical students—26 in the fall of 1966 and 23 in the fall of 1967. After two years of preclinical training, these students transferred to other medical schools to complete their medical degree requirements. In 1967, the College of Human Medicine received approval to develop a four-year, degree-granting program. The first MDs graduated in 1972.

Since the MSU College of Human Medicine was created within a state-funded institution to serve Michigan's people, it was considered important and appropriate for students to obtain their clinical training in the state's communities. A formal philosophy of placing clinical training within community hospitals emerged. To implement this philosophy, the college formed a consortium of teaching hospitals in several Michigan communities, each with an assistant dean and a staff of faculty coordinators for major medical specialties.

In conjunction with its founding mission to serve all the people of Michigan, a special program to address the health care needs of rural citizens began in the Upper Peninsula in 1974. Students entering the College of Human Medicine who planned to serve a rural community upon completion of their medical training could apply to complete their clinical years in the Upper Peninsula.

Clinical campuses in Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Midland Regional, Southeast Michigan, Traverse City, and the Upper Peninsula Region now cooperate with MSU in the training of medical students during their undergraduate clinical years. Nearly 4,000 physicians in these Michigan communities hold clinical faculty appointments and volunteer their expertise to educate MSU College of Human Medicine undergraduate medical students. The college also operates several residency programs in these community hospitals. These programs have proven to be one of the most successful implementations of the college’s commitment to serving the people. The Rural Medicine Program at the Upper Peninsula region campus and the Rural Community Health Program in the Traverse City and Midland Regional campuses has led to an increase in physicians practicing in underserved areas.

Since its creation, the college's curriculum has continued to evolve and the college has become nationally and internationally known as a leader in university-based, community-integrated medical education. The college is again embarking on an innovative curriculum slated to begin fall 2016. In addition to excelling in medical education, the college excels in research. College faculty members are well represented among the university's top research grant recipients. Furthermore, an MD/PhD program invites promising scholars to combine basic science research with clinical physician training.

In 2006, Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., became the first graduate of the College of Human Medicine to become dean of the medical school. At that time, the university had begun plans to expand the medical school to help Michigan train, attract and retain enough physicians to meet future needs of its citizens.

In August 2007, the college increased its enrollment from 106 first-year students to 156 students, and, in October, MSU announced a building project budget of $90 million for the construction of a new medical education building along the health sciences corridor in downtown Grand Rapids. A ground-breaking event was held in mid 2008, with construction completion planned for the Secchia Center in 2010.

Spectrum Health committed $55 million that included principal and interest payments on the building for 25 years. Private donations were raised through a joint fundraising initiative by MSU and Grand Action. This included first naming gifts of $20 million donated by area business leaders, including alumni Ambassador Peter F. and Joan Secchia, for whom the Secchia Center is named. The $90 million Secchia Center opened fall 2010, on time, on budget and privately funded.

In June 2015, MSU announced plans to build the Grand Rapids Research Center near the Secchia Center in downtown Grand Rapids. The $88 million research center will late fall 2017 and will eventually house as many as 44 principal investigators and their research teams in future years.

Also in 2015, Dean Marsha Rappley stepped down and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Aron Sousa, M.D., became interim dean. On October 1, 2016, the College of Human Medicine welcomed its new dean, Norman Beauchamp, Jr., MD, the second graduate of the college to serve as dean. On October 25, 2019, Beauchamp was promoted to executive vice president for health sciences. The Board of Trustees again named Sousa interim dean.               

The MSU College of Human Medicine is fully accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. With 5,138 graduates, College of Human Medicine alumni now practice in nearly every county in Michigan, in nearly every state in the nation, and in several foreign countries. As it continues to train physicians of the highest quality, the College of Human Medicine looks forward to the medical opportunities of the next millennium.