Can an art masterpiece embody the spirit of a University?

This question was not considered at Jefferson before this year or until the University pursued the sale of Thomas Eakins’ seminal work, The Gross Clinic.

The depiction of Dr. Samuel Gross, Professor of Surgery, at work in the surgical amphitheatre captured the emergence of American Medicine from the shadow of Europe and foreshadowed the American century which was yet to come.

Viewed in this light, the work is indeed an important part of the history of Jefferson, Philadelphia, the medical/scientific community, and the entire nation. Even more significant is the work in considering that Eakins himself studied anatomy at Jefferson. Upon learning of the sale many at Jefferson objected believing that the University was selling its very soul. But as the fate of The Gross Clinic hung in the balance, I came to realize that the soul of Jefferson is our students, residents, fellows, faculty, and alumni - and the good work they all do every day to prevent illness, seek new cures, report new discoveries, teach the next generation of physicians and researchers, heal the sick, and relieve suffering. The painting symbolizes this soul, but the soul rests in each of us.