History

Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Hershey Medical Center have a rich history of academic achievement. Learn how we started and have grown to be one of the nation's premier academic health centers.

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine have a rich history of academic achievement.

Learn how we started and have grown to be one of the nation's premier academic health centers.

It all began with the fabled "$50 Million Phone Call".

The “$50 Million Phone Call”

In 1963, The M. S. Hershey Foundation offered $50 million to The Pennsylvania State University to establish a medical school and teaching hospital in Hershey.  With this grant and $21.3 million from the U.S. Public Health Service, the University built a medical school, teaching hospital, and research center.  Ground was broken in 1966, and Penn State's College of Medicine opened its doors to the first class of students in 1967.   Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center accepted its first patients in 1970. 

The original buildings at Penn State Hershey Medical Center included the Medical Science Building and medical center, Animal Research Farm, Laundry and Steam Plant, and University Manor Apartments.  Since 1970, the campus has grown from 318 to 550 acres.  Many additions have been made to the academic and patient-care facilities. 

Today, Penn State Hershey Medical Center has completed several carefully planned construction projects.  Additions were made to reflect a steady increase in patient demand for services and to expand research and teaching programs. 

Founding dean and CEO George Harrell, M.D., pictured here in 1966, oversees initial construction of the Medical Center and College of Medicine.
Founding dean and CEO George Harrell, MD, pictured here in 1966, oversees initial construction of the Medical Center and College of Medicine.

Training Tomorrow’s Leaders in Medicine

Penn State College of Medicine students have gone on to become productive physicians and scientists.  The College of Medicine has granted 3,907 medical degrees and 1,300 graduate degrees.  The College of Medicine offers degree programs in anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, bioengineering, cell and molecular biology, genetics, integrative biosciences, microbiology and immunology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and physiology, and two postdoctoral programs leading to an MS degree in Laboratory Animal Medicine, the only such program in the commonwealth, and an MS in Public Health Sciences.  Each year, about 550 resident physicians are trained in medical specialties at the Medical Center. 

Nursing students from Penn State College of Health and Human Development BS degree program rotate through the Medical Center for clinical courses each term, and students from other Penn State health-related programs and other institutions come to the campus for clinical experience.  The extended BS degree program for nurses is offered in conjunction with the College of Health and Human Development. 

Continuing education programs serve Penn State Hershey Medical Center and health-care professionals throughout Pennsylvania, with enrollments exceeding 51,000 each year. 

Basic and clinical research is conducted at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and is supported by more than $100 million in awards from federal, state, and private agencies, businesses, and individuals. 

At the end of June 2012, Penn State Hershey Medical Center admitted nearly 27,000 patients and provided care through over 893,000 outpatient and over 64,000 emergency-service visits. Penn State Hershey Medical Center has over 9,000 employees and 400 volunteers, and the College of Medicine enrolls 800 students annually.

To learn more about the history of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, visit the exciting new exhibits at The Hershey Story.

Contact Us

For more information about the history of Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, please contact Marketing and Communications at 717-531-8606.