UNMC history: Three times a centennial

In 1969, college of medicine organizers recognized a centennial to mark 100 years since the beginning of medical education in Omaha. Included in the centennial events was a symposium to discuss the future of medicine that featured George Beadle, at left, PhD, a Wahoo, Nebraska, native who shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine.

In 1969, college of medicine organizers recognized a centennial to mark 100 years since the beginning of medical education in Omaha. Included in the centennial events was a symposium to discuss the future of medicine that featured George Beadle, at left, PhD, a Wahoo, Nebraska, native who shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine.

As a large institution with a lengthy history, UNMC – along with its colleges – have celebrated many significant milestones.

UNMC’s College of Medicine has marked three different years as centennials.

The first centennial date was based on the incorporation of a medical school by a group of Omaha physicians in 1869. Even though this school did not last due to a lack of facilities and anatomical material, the college recognized it as the beginning of medical education in Omaha.

A symposium was held in 1969 to mark 100 years and to discuss the future of medicine. It featured scientists, educators and doctors, including George Beadle, PhD, a Wahoo, Nebraska, native who shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine. Another speaker was Carruth Wagner, MD, assistant surgeon general and 1941 College of Medicine graduate.

The original medical school organizers from 1869 were able to establish a facility, faculty and clinical partner to create the Omaha Medical College in 1880.

In 1980, to commemorate the first class of students, the UNMC College of Medicine held what would be its largest centennial celebration. The 1980 planners chose the theme “Past, Present, Future.”

In 1980, medical students completed a torch run across Nebraska to mark 100 years since the first class of medical students at the Omaha Medical College.

Among the many celebratory activities and events was a torch run across Nebraska. Twenty second-year medical students ran from Henry, Nebraska, on the Wyoming border, to Omaha. They averaged 80 miles per day. After the torch entered Omaha, it lit the eternal flame on a statue representing the theme at an Oktoberfest health fair. A centennial train also traveled across the state, visiting eleven cities and ending at the Western Heritage Museum, today known as The Durham Museum.

Event organizers created historical exhibits displayed across the campus. KYNE-TV featured a 13-part television series on the college’s history. One of the most enduring centennial projects was a history book trilogy, featuring a volume dedicated to the history of the College of Medicine, a volume about Edward Holyoke’s memories of the early college and a volume about medicine in 19th century Nebraska. At the medical center, individuals also dressed in 1880s-period costumes. 

In 2002, the college of medicine celebrated a third centennial. Back in 1902, the Omaha Medical College became affiliated with the University of Nebraska and created the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

To mark that centennial, organizers held a four-mile walk/run on the Field Club Trail in celebration of the anniversary. They also hosted an ice cream social with live music from a ragtime band and created historical displays that were placed across campus.

UNMC has celebrated many anniversaries, recognizing the importance of UNMC’s legacy to Nebraska. The UNMC College of Medicine is one of six colleges at UNMC that shares these important milestones with the campus and community.

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1 comment

  1. John Walburn MD says:

    Who are the runners?

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