August 25, 2004
Auditorium Named for First African American Medical School Graduate
CHICAGO— Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine will dedicate a new state-of-the-art auditorium and atrium to Daniel Hale Williams, MD, the school’s first African American graduate and faculty member and one of the most noteworthy physicians of the 20th Century.
Dr. Williams served on the Northwestern medical faculty from 1885â89 and performed one of the world’s first successful heart operations in 1893.
The dedication of the 182-seat auditorium and atrium, which will be followed by a reception, will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, September 9, at the McGaw Pavilion, 240 East Huron Street, third floor.
The keynote speaker for the dedication will be Claude H. Organ Jr., MD, president of the American College of Surgeons and emeritus professor of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.
The atrium will house commemorative displays and a bust of Dr. Williams by Preston Jackson, renowned Illinois artist and professor of sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jackson was awarded the Order of Lincoln Medallion, Illinois’ highest honor for personal achievement. His commissions include a bronze sculpture relief to honor poet Gwendolyn Brooks, a bronze relief at Cohokia Mounds Museum, and a life-sized cast bronze of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable in Peoria, Illinois.
Dr. Williams received his MD degree from Chicago Medical College in 1883, 13 years after Northwestern University and the college became affiliated. In 1891 the name of the school was changed to Northwestern University Medical School. He then secured an appointment with the South Side Dispensary, operated by the Chicago Medical College, where he served as anatomical demonstrator for medical students, thus becoming Northwestern’s first African American medical faculty member. Dr. Williams taught several notable future physicians, including Charles Mayo, MD.
Provident Hospital in Chicago, the first black-owned and -operated interracial hospital in the country, was founded by Dr. Williams. He decided that the black community should establish its own interracial hospital and nursing school in 1891, when a young black woman named Emma Reynolds asked his help in getting admitted to an all-white nursing school in Chicago.
Dr. Williams later sponsored Reynolds when she applied to Northwestern University Women’s Medical School, from which Reynolds graduated in 1895.
From 1893â98, Dr. Williams was surgeon-in-chief of Freedman’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., where he established a second training school for black nurses and internships for black physicians.
Dr. Williams was the first black fellow of the American College of Surgeons and was the principal founder of the National Medical Association.
The University renovated the McGaw Pavilion of the Health Sciences Building, which formerly housed the Dental School, beginning in late 2003. The $35 million-plus project, financed by the Feinberg School, has greatly increased the school’s facilities for student education and other operations, providing more than 160,000 net square feet of space.