Fifty years ago this month, on January 8-9, 1965, the proposed Mount Sinai School of Medicine had its first LCME survey visit. A group was sent to judge whether The Mount Sinai Hospital could successfully create and maintain a medical school. If the surveyors were favorably impressed, they would send a letter of support to the U.S Commissioner of Education expressing their reasonable assurance of success, and the School would then be eligible to receive matching federal funds to help build the new school. Mount Sinai had already submitted a grant for $26 million and so this visit was incredibly important.
The leaders of Mount Sinai thought it would demonstrate their commitment to the School project if they could have a Dean in place by the time of the visit. The Dean Selection Committee had been interviewing several candidates, and in December decided that they would ask Irving Schwartz, MD, to become Dean at Mount Sinai. Dr. Schwartz was then Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physiology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The negotiations were opened right before the LCME visit and Dr. Schwartz was introduced to the surveyors as “almost definitely” the first Dean of the young School. The visit went well, and the surveyors were very impressed with Mount Sinai’s efforts. The Summary and Conclusions of their report include these observations:
- The Mount Sinai Hospital is an almost unique institution because of its long traditions of academic pursuits, its unusually capable clinical faculty, its extensive research activity in basic fields, and the strong support it receives from the Jewish community.
- Throughout the institution one can sense an aura of over-all competence, a devotion to academic pursuits, and a soundness of educational philosophy which auger well for the future of the school.
When the official report was received late in February, it had already been decided that Dr. Schwartz would not be the Dean of the entire Medical School, but would instead serve as Dean of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, as well as Chairman of the Department of Physiology. The Dean Selection Committee went back to work, and by June had received the commitment of George James, MD to be the Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, as well as the CEO of what would become The Mount Sinai Medical Center. On November 30, 1965, Mount Sinai held an investiture ceremony to install the first three official Deans of the new School: George James, MD as Dean of the School of Medicine, Irving Schwartz, MD as Dean of the Graduate School, and Hans Popper, MD, PhD, as Dean for Academic Affairs. (Dr. Popper had long been on Mount Sinai’s staff and was a leader in the effort to create a school.)
In 1967, after repeated submissions and revisions, Mount Sinai received its grant for $26 million, the largest such grant ever given by the government at the time.