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Temple’s History

Temple University was founded in 1884 by the Rev. Russell H. Conwell, clergyman, educator, and author of the famed oration, "Acres of Diamonds." It was Pastor Conwell's mission to make quality education available to all intellectually capable people, regardless of ability to pay. This has remained one of Temple's major goals over the years.

Temple University’s medical department (it was not yet a school) opened its doors to students on September 16, 1901. Temple was the first coeducational medical college in Pennsylvania (the University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson Medical College did not accept women until 1913 and 1961, respectively). The curriculum was held during evenings and weekends to accommodate working people. Classes were held initially in College Hall, next to Conwell's Baptist Temple Church, and clinical instruction was given at the Samaritan Hospital, farther north on Broad Street, also founded by Russell Conwell, in 1892. Anatomical dissections were performed in the barn behind Samaritan Hospital, where the horses that pulled the Samaritan ambulance were stabled.  

The original medical faculty numbered 20 with 35 students enrolled during the first year. In 1904, two men who had entered with advanced standing, Frederick C. Lehman and Frank E. Watkins, became its first graduates. Two years later two women, Sara Allen and Mary E. Shepard, became the first women to receive MD degrees. Six years later, Agnes Berry Montier became the first African American woman to earn the MD degree at Temple. Dr. Montier practiced general medicine in Philadelphia until her death in 1961. 

In 1907, to meet medical licensure requirements, the “night school” was discontinued and a day program was instituted. During that year, the medical school joined the dental and pharmacy schools in buildings located at 18th and Buttonwood Streets. In 1929, Samaritan Hospital was renamed Temple University Hospital and ground was broken for a building dedicated to medical education across Broad Street that opened in the following year. Dr. William N. Parkinson, a 1911 graduate, became dean and served admirably in that position for 30 years. With the opening of the new building in 1930, each medical class was increased to 100 students. 

The next new building to be built for the school, the Medical Research Building, opened in 1963. Following that, with a grant from the foundation of the same name, we opened the Kresge Science Hall in 1969. The spectacular building that now serves as home base for the school, the Medical Education Researc Building (MERB) opened in 2009. This state-of-the-art building supports research and education in modern and dynamic ways--and came to be in large part because of the hard work and monetary donations of faculty and alumni--testament to the Temple community’s commitment to education and service.

Temple medical school awarded its first PhD degrees in 1954. Its MD/PhD program was founded in 1985. Residency training programs were instituted in the 1930s.

The medical school formed its first formal educational affiliation in 1928 with the Jewish Hospital of Philadelphia, now Albert Einstein Medical Center. This and subsequent affiliations opened doors for more variety of instruction and investigation. In recent years, the school established clinical and regional campuses across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with St. Luke’s Hospital and Health Network, Gesinger Health System and the Allegheny Health System. In addition, Lancaster General Hospital, Main Line Health, and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children serve as major clinical affiliates. Throughout the school’s history, innovative faculty members – many with national and international recognition – have brought luster to the school through their teaching, research and practice in the ever-expanding medical environment.

In 1999, Temple developed an educational affiliation with Fox Chase Cancer Center, an NCI-designated Cancer Center with one of the best reputations in the country. In 2011, the relationship was expanded, making Fox Chase a full member of the Temple University Health System.  

On October 13, 2015, the School of Medicine was renamed the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) in honor the late university alumnus, trustee and benefactor Lewis Katz.