THE BIRTH OF A SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND A DEPARTMENT 1965-1968
The UC Davis School of Medicine was authorized by the University of California Regents in 1963. The founding Dean, C. John Tupper, M.D., arrived at UCD in January 1966, and the affiliation with the Sacramento County Hospital (later purchased by the university) began in September 1966. The School of Medicine was one of the three new University of California medical schools established between 1962 and 1965 (UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine). These schools were part of the 30% increase in medical schools in the country between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. The first class of 48 medical students was admitted in September 1968, only 34 months after the medical school was established. This was and remains the shortest start-up time of any School of Medicine.
In January 1968, Dr. Fowler accepted Dean Tupper's offer to become Chair of a Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with the understanding that he could not start full-time until September 1968. At the time, the medical school consisted of a few "temporary" laboratory and office buildings and a Health Science Library while its only clinical facilities were 17 miles away in a county hospital in Sacramento. There were no PM&R programs in all of inland Northern California and only one physiatrist, John Friend, M.D., who covered Redding, Sacramento, Stockton, and Modesto. An administrative structure had been developed that consisted of divisions of Sciences Basic to Medicine, Surgical Sciences, Medical Sciences, Mental Health, and Community and Postgraduate Medicine. PM&R, Neurology, Dermatology, Pediatrics, and Radiology were departments in the Division of Medical Sciences. An experimental core curriculum had been approved for the medical students which eliminated all departmental teaching and consisted of core courses utilizing multi-disciplinary approaches to the subject matter focused on organ system biology.
"In February 1968, Dean Tupper called me to express his concern that I could not start as Chair until September. The County Hospital had just completed a building program that included a relatively large and well-designed rehabilitation unit. He was worried that no one was there to protect the space. I discussed this with Robert G. Taylor, M.D., one of the residents at UCLA who would complete his training in June. He was very interested in returning to Northern California. So, with the consent of the American Board of PM&R, I assigned him as a resident to the Sacramento County Hospital as of March. The Hospital and Medical Directors were so impressed with him that they immediately hired him as the Director of the Hospital Department of PM&R; a position he held until 1973 when the university purchased the Sacramento County Hospital. This was also the beginning of a close friendship that only ended with Bob's untimely death in 1988."…W. M. Fowler, Jr.
In 1968, the Dean could not promise any clinical facilities or staff since the hospital was owned and operated by the County of Sacramento. He could not commit any significant academic space and support since there were no permanent medical school buildings and a very small administrative budget. The only requests I made and verbally received were 6 university supported faculty positions (to be phased in over 5 years), funds for a department administrative assistant and laboratory technician, and a small administrative budget. All were based on trust, optimism, and a handshake. Salaries were quite low, and I actually took a pay-cut to transfer from UCLA to UC Davis.