Our 175th Anniversary Gala

On November 1st, 1843, sixty-seven students and six faculty members gathered together to begin classes in the Department of Medicine of Western Reserve University. The students paid $72 in tuition. This was our beginning!

This past Thursday was the formal 175th anniversary of the founding class of the School of Medicine. We celebrated at a wonderful gala in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Health Education Campus. While it was a cold and rainy night, inside it was warm. The evening featured a reception, dinner, dancing, and the unveiling of the 1843 Scholars, a new honorary society for those who have contributed $1M lifetime to the School of Medicine. Over our 175-year history, we have recorded an amazing 222 such donors, 67 of whom have become members of the new society during the current Forward Thinking campaign.

The wonderful donors recognized on Thursday included the family of our very first dean, David Long, a family which has also given us Dean Milliken, who presided over the school at the same time as the Flexner report was published; Elisabeth Severance Allen Prentiss, a generous benefactress of educational, art, and medical causes who was central to the Allen Memorial Library; and the Prentiss Foundation, which has supported many important programs at the School. And in 2018, we graduated a member of the latest generation of this family, who remains in Cleveland for his residency!

The inaugural chair of the 1843 Scholars is Connie Brown, who with her late husband Jim, has been a great patron of our cystic fibrosis and pediatric research programs. We lost Jim about a year ago but he was surely there in spirit. Connie and Jim were inspired in their 40-year philanthropic career by the diagnosis of their first grandchild with CF. Since then, they have provided significant philanthropy, organized donor events, and encouraged friends to give. The couple were also early supporters of the Health Education Campus project. Connie was supported at the gala by five of her six children and many of the couple’s grandchildren.

The donors of the 1843 Scholars are the core of our giving programs at the School and deserve our deep gratitude. They have been helping the School through its first 175 years and have set us up beautifully for the next 175 years.

Today we stand on the edge of a wonderful new era. This includes the Health Education Campus, renewals in the past year of anchor programs in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative, and substantial work in AIDS, immunology, inflammation, imaging, and neuroscience. Through these and many other compelling initiatives, we stand ready to make meaningful changes in our community’s health in infant mortality, cardiovascular and brain disease, and healthy eating and active living.

Here’s to the next 175.


Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD
Dean, School of Medicine
Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs, Case Western Reserve University
Arline and Curtis Garvin Research Professor
2109 Adelbert Road, BRB 113
Cleveland, OH 44106