Jefferson Surgical Solutions

Charles J. Yeo, MD, FACS, Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery, and Senior Vice President and Chair, Enterprise Surgery Jefferson Health

1824 was a leap year. Lord Byron died in Missolonghi, Greece. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony premiered in Vienna. And a surgeon, Dr. George McClellan, five years out of medical school himself, had the vision and aspiration to make Philadelphia the only U.S. city with two medical schools. McClellan was a Yale graduate (chemistry, 1815) attended Penn Med (’19) and due to the politics of the time and his ties to the Presbyterian church, chose to affiliate this new Philadelphia medical school via a charter with Jefferson College – a prior log cabin school located 312 miles away – in the sleepy hamlet of Canonsburg, PA. McClellan, along with Drs. John Eberle and Joseph Klapp and Jacob Green, Esq., were granted “Articles of Union” on October 30, 1824 – this is considered the founding date of Jefferson Medical College (JMC).

A skeleton faculty gave lectures. The first faculty meeting occurred on December 20, 1824. The old Tivoli Theater was leased at an annual rate of $550, remodeled and became the “Hall of the Jefferson Medical College”. An infirmary (clinic) was started on May 16, 1825, for free medical and surgical care of outpatients – the first clinic in any American college. Tuition for the first-year session was $78, paid directly to the professors. Trouble ensued. Shortly prior to the planned graduation of the first class (1826) an official protest was read in Harrisburg by the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Penn, challenging the right and power of JMC to grant the M.D. degree. McClellan made a legendary dash to Harrisburg, averted the challenge, and one week later on April 14, 1826, the first JMC commencement was held at the Medical Hall – with 20 graduates receiving their M.D. diplomas (Eight U.S. states represented and one Irishman).

Philadelphia now had two M.D. granting institutions.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the vision of George McClellan, the founder of our medical college. McClellan’s actions spawned the notoriety of Drs. Mütter, Gross, Keen, Gibbon and many others in our Department of Surgery and across what is now Jefferson Health. We raise a glass to our 200th year celebration.

Mark Your Calendar & Join the Celebration

#Jefferson200 is a year-long bicentennial celebrationmarking two centuries of excellence in higher education, healthcare, and commitment to our community. This celebration will engage our diverse community of more than 8,300 students, 42,000 employees, 77,000 alumni, 390,000 insurance members, as well as countless patients, volunteers, and donors who touch lives in ten counties.

Key moments include:

  • The Bicentennial Service Initiative, a call to the entire Jefferson community to complete 200,000 hours of volunteer community service
  • Creating a “Bicentennial Fund” to establish a major investment in student scholarships and other priorities
  • The opening of The Honickman Center, a state-of-the-art outpatient care center at 1101 Chestnut Street in Center City in Spring 2024
  • October 25 – 26 SKMC Alumni Weekend
  • October 26, 2024, Department of Surgery Reunion and Bicentennial Ball
  • November 21, 2024, The 22nd Annual Jefferson Gala

For details about our storied history, upcoming bicentennial events, ways to volunteer, and contributing to the Bicentennial Fund visit jefferson200.org

For details about Alumni Weekend visit alumni.jefferson.edu

For details about the Surgery Reunion email Gabrielle.Alleva@jefferson.edu