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Thomas Jefferson University

Coordinates: 40°01′23″N 75°11′31″W / 40.023°N 75.192°W / 40.023; -75.192
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Thomas Jefferson University
Former names
Medical Department of Jefferson College in Philadelphia (1824–1838)
Jefferson Medical College (1838–1969)
Philadelphia Textile School (1884–1942)
Philadelphia Textile Institute (1942–1961)
Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science (1961–1999)
Philadelphia University (1999–2017)
Motto"Redefining humanly possible"
TypePrivate research university
Established1824; 200 years ago (1824)
Endowment$1.533 billion (2021)[1]
PresidentSusan C. Aldridge
ProvostMatt Dane Baker
Location, ,
United States
CampusLarge city, 100 acres (0.4 km2)
ColorsDeep blue and bright blue[4]
Sporting affiliations
MascotPhil the Ram[5]
Websitewww.jefferson.edu Edit this at Wikidata
Jefferson logo

Thomas Jefferson University is a private research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Established in its earliest form in 1824, the university officially combined with Philadelphia University in 2017.[6] The university is named for U.S. Founding Father and president Thomas Jefferson. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[7]

To signify its heritage, the university sometimes carries the nomenclature Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) in its branding.


Thomas Jefferson University was founded in 1824[8] and merged with another university located in the same city, Philadelphia University, in 2017.[9] Philadelphia University was originally known as Philadelphia Textile School when it was founded in 1884, and then Philadelphia Textile Institute for 20 years (1942–1961), Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science for 38 years (1962–1999), and Philadelphia University for 18 years (1999–2017), its final name before merger with Thomas Jefferson University.[10]

Philadelphia University[edit]

At the 1876 Centennial Exposition, local textile manufacturers noticed that Philadelphia's textile industry was falling behind its rivals' capacity, technology, and ability. In 1880, they formed the Philadelphia Association of Manufacturers of Textile Fabrics, with Theodore C. Search as its president, to fight for higher tariffs on imported textiles and to educate local textile leaders. Search joined the board of directors of the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art (now the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of the Arts), thinking it the perfect partner for his plans for a school, and began fundraising in 1882.

In early 1884, Search himself taught the first classes of the Philadelphia Textile School to five students at 1336 Spring Garden Street. The school was officially opened on November 5, 1884. The school moved to 1303-1307 Buttonwood Street in 1891, then moved again in 1893.

Enrollment had been growing steadily and the school was turning away "bright young fellows" for lack of space. The school acquired the former Philadelphia Institute of the Deaf and Dumb on the corner of Broad and Spruce Streets, which allowed rapid expansion of academic offerings and capacity of students.

In 1942, the school was granted the right to award baccalaureate degrees and changed its name to the Philadelphia Textile Institute (PTI). In 1949, having decided to break its ties with the museum, PTI moved to its present site in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.

In 1961, the school changed its name again, to Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science, but was still known as Philadelphia Textile for short. The university's student population doubled between 1954 and 1964, and doubled again by 1978, with programs in the arts, sciences, and business administration being introduced. The college purchased an adjoining property in 1972, doubling the size of its campus. In 1976, it offered its first graduate degree, the Master of Business Administration. The purchase of additional properties in East Falls in 1980 and 1988 nearly doubled the campus again, adding classrooms, research laboratories, student residences, and athletic facilities. In 1992, the 54,000-square-foot (5,000 m2) Paul J. Gutman Library opened.

During the 1990s, the college began to offer undergraduate majors in a wider range of fields, resulting in the college being granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1999. The board of trustees voted to change the college's name to Philadelphia University, on July 13, 1999. The school preferred the longer abbreviation of "PhilaU", rather than the simple two-letter abbreviation of "PU", due to the latter's oft-mocked connection with other "PU"-abbreviated schools as an onomatopoetic term for body odor.

Thomas Jefferson University[edit]

The Tivoli Theater in Philadelphia, the first home of the Jefferson Medical College
Thomas Eakins' painting The Gross Clinic, housed at Jefferson University from 1876 to 2006

Thomas Jefferson University began as a medical school. During the early 19th century, several attempts to create a second medical school in Philadelphia had been stymied, largely by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine alumni.[11][12] In an attempt to circumvent that opposition, a group of Philadelphia physicians led by George McClellan sent an 1824 letter to the trustees of Jefferson College (now Washington & Jefferson College) in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, asking them to establish a medical department in Philadelphia.[13] The trustees agreed, establishing the Medical Department of Jefferson College in Philadelphia in 1825.[11][13] In response to a second request, the Pennsylvania General Assembly granted an expansion of Jefferson College's charter in 1826, endorsing the creation of the new department and allowing it to grant medical degrees.[11][13][14] An additional 10 Jefferson College trustees, including Joel Barlow Sutherland, were appointed to supervise the new facility from Philadelphia, owing to the difficulty of managing a medical department on the other side of the state.[13] Two years later, this second board was granted authority to manage the Medical Department, while the Jefferson College trustees maintained veto power for major decisions.[13]

The first class was graduated in 1826, receiving their degrees only after the disposition of a lawsuit seeking to close the school.[13] The first classes were held in the Tivoli Theater on Prune Street in Philadelphia, which had the first medical clinic attached to a medical school.[15] Owing to the teaching philosophy of Dr. McClellan, classes focused on clinical practice.[15] In 1828, the Medical Department moved to the Ely Building, which allowed for a large lecture space and the "Pit," a 700-seat amphitheater to allow students to view surgeries.[15] This building had an attached hospital, the second such medical school/hospital arrangement in the nation, servicing 441 inpatients and 4,659 outpatients in its first year of operation.[15] The relationship with Jefferson College survived until 1838, when the Medical Department received a separate charter, allowing it to operate separately as the Jefferson Medical College.[14][16] At this time, all instructors, including McClellan, were vacated from the school and the trustees hired all new individuals to teach. This has been considered the time at which the school came to be considered a "legitimate" medical school.[11][17]

In 1841, Jefferson Medical College hired what would be dubbed "The Faculty of '41", an influential collection of professors including Charles Delucena Meigs and Mütter Museum founder Thomas Dent Mütter. This collection of professors would institute numerous changes to Jefferson—including providing patient beds over a shop at 10th and Sansom Streets in 1844—and the staff would remain unchanged for 15 years.[18] The graduating class of 1849 included a son of college founder Joel Barlow Sutherland, Charles Sutherland, who went on to serve as Surgeon General of the United States Army.[19]

Portrait of William S. Forbes by Thomas Eakins

In 1882, a Philadelphia Press newspaper story sparked a sensational trial after a journalist caught body snatchers stealing corpses and providing them to Jefferson Medical College for use as cadavers by medical students. Four grave robbers were arrested and sentenced to Moyamensing Prison for stealing bodies and selling them to Jefferson Medical College at the rate of $8 a body.[20] After the arrests, it was determined that the body snatching had been going on for nine years and several hundred corpses had been sold to Jefferson Medical College.[21]

The renowned surgeon and Jefferson Medical College anatomy professor, William S. Forbes, was arrested for his role in the grave robbery but was acquitted[22] Forbes helped write the 1867 Pennsylvania Law named the "Anatomy Act" which called for hospitals, prisons and mental health wards to provide the bodies of those that had no family or funds for burial to medical schools for anatomical research.[20]

Due in part to the Lebanon Cemetery grave robbery scandal, the Pennsylvania Anatomy Act of 1883 was passed which provided for legal means by which medical colleges could obtain cadavers without having to buy them from grave robbers.[22]

A 125-bed hospital, one of the first in the nation affiliated with a medical school, opened in 1877, and a school for nurses began in 1891. The Medical College became Thomas Jefferson University on July 1, 1969. As an academic health care center, Jefferson is currently involved in education, medical research, and patient care. Jefferson Medical College is the 9th oldest American medical school that is in existence today.[23]

In January 2007, the university sold Thomas Eakins' painting The Gross Clinic, which depicts a surgery that took place at the school, for $68 million, to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[24] A reproduction hangs in its place at Jefferson University.

On June 17, 2014, Sidney Kimmel Foundation donated $110 million to Jefferson Medical College, prompting the announcement that Jefferson Medical College would be renamed Sidney Kimmel Medical College. It was the largest donation received in its history.[25]


In May 2017, Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University announced that they would merge under the name Thomas Jefferson University.[26]

In 2023, university president Mark Tykocinski was criticized for liking tweets expressing controversial views about vaccinations and gender reassignment surgery for children. He resigned with trustee Susan Aldridge becoming interim president.[27]


Latrobe Hospital, as well as other hospitals, are affiliated with the Jefferson Medical College.[28][29]


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[31]127
Washington Monthly[32]88
WSJ/College Pulse[33]135
U.S. News & World Report[35]390

Jefferson offers 160+ undergraduate and graduate programs, including the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and former Philadelphia University's flagship colleges:

  • College of Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies


There are two campuses and a research center.

East Falls[edit]

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania
Paul J. Gutman Library
The Mansion on the East Falls campus

The university's East Falls 100-acre (40 ha) wooded campus is located about eight miles northwest of Center City, Philadelphia, accessible by two of SEPTA's Regional Rail lines. The campus consists of 52 buildings, including classrooms, laboratories, studios, the Paul J. Gutman Library, student resident facilities, an exhibition gallery, and some major additions early in the 21st Century, the 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) Kanbar Campus Center for students, faculty and staff; the Gallagher Athletic, Recreation and Convocation Center; the SEED Center (certified LEED Gold Center for Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design), and the innovative DEC Center. A subsidiary campus is located in Bucks County.[38]

Center City[edit]

Scott Memorial Library on the Center City medical campus
The College and Curtis Buildings on the Center City campus

The university's Center City Philadelphia campus, medical offices, and hospital (called Jefferson Health) are headquartered at 130 South Ninth Street and surrounding city blocks.

Manayunk Research Center[edit]

In addition to its major properties, Jefferson runs the Philadelphia University Research Center, which is housed in a restored textile mill (originally opened in 1864) in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, just south of the main campus. The research center contains both the Engineering and Design Institute and the Laboratory for Engineered Human Protection.[39]


Jefferson's athletic teams are called the Rams. The college is a member of the NCAA Division II ranks, primarily competing as a member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) since the 2005–06 academic year; while its women's golf and women's rowing teams compete as Independents. The Rams previously competed in the East Coast Conference (originally known as the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference until 2006) from 1991–92 to 2004–05.

Jefferson sponsors 17 varsity intercollegiate teams: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

The merged school chose to retain PhilaU's nickname and the athletic program follows the overall institution in using the branding of "Jefferson" when describing the university as a whole.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Endowment funds of the 120 degree-granting postsecondary institutions with the largest endowments, by rank order: Fiscal year 2021". ed.gov.
  2. ^ "Thomas Jefferson University". usnews.com.
  3. ^ a b "College Navigator – Thomas Jefferson University".
  4. ^ "Academic Brand Style Guide 2.0" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Official Combination of Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson University Signals Disruption in a Stagnant Education Industry". June 29, 2017.
  6. ^ "Official Combination of Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson University Signals Disruption in a Stagnant Education Industry".
  7. ^ "Carnegie Classifications Institution Lookup". carnegieclassifications.iu.edu. Center for Postsecondary Education. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  8. ^ "Traditions & History".
  9. ^ "Official Combination of Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson University Signals Disruption in a Stagnant Education Industry – Thomas Jefferson University".
  10. ^ "History | Jefferson Online (Formerly PhilaU Online)".
  11. ^ a b c d Gayley, James Fyfe (1858). A history of the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson. ISBN 9780608422749.
  12. ^ "George McClellan, Founder". A Brief History of Thomas Jefferson University. Thomas Jefferson University. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Pedrick, Alexander K. (1898). "The Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia". Charitable Institutions of Pennsylvania. Vol. 1. State Printer of Pennsylvania. pp. 177–202.
  14. ^ a b "Establishing a School". A Brief History of Thomas Jefferson University. Thomas Jefferson University. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  15. ^ a b c d "Early Homes". A Brief History of Thomas Jefferson University. Thomas Jefferson University. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  16. ^ Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, ed. (September 1915). "Jefferson Medical College". The Pennsylvania Medical Journal. Vol. 18. p. 950.
  17. ^ Morton, Samuel George (1849). Biographical Notice of the Late George McClellan, M. D. . Philadelphia: College of Physicians of Philadelphia – via Wikisource.
  18. ^ Aptowicz, Cristin (September 2014). Dr Mutter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine. New York: Avery Books. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-592-40925-9.
  19. ^ Pilcher, James Evelyn (1905). The Surgeon Generals of the Army of the United States of America. Carlisle, PA: Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. p. 79.
  20. ^ a b Rowan, Tommy. "1882: Grave robbers sold black bodies to medical college". www.inquirer.com. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  21. ^ Keels, Thomas H. (2010). Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 978-1-59629-787-6. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  22. ^ a b McLeary, Erin (April 13, 2015). "The Curious Case Of Body Snatching at Lebanon Cemetery". www.hiddencityphila.org. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  23. ^ "Essay::Health Sciences Library". Upstate.edu. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  24. ^ Michael Kimmelman (January 12, 2007). "In the Company of Eakins". The New York Times.
  25. ^ "Kimmel donates $110M to Jefferson". philly-archives.
  26. ^ Lattanzio, Vince (May 5, 2017). "Philadelphia University Will Be Renamed Thomas Jefferson University When Merger Complete". NBC 10. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  27. ^ Snyder, Susan (July 21, 2023). "Thomas Jefferson University president who liked controversial tweets resigns". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  28. ^ Loriann Hoff Oberlin, Jenn Phillips, Evan M. Pattak and Michele Margittai, Insiders' Guide to Pittsburgh, 4th edition (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press, 2008), pp. 396-7.
  29. ^ "Stocks". Bloomberg.com. May 24, 2023. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  30. ^ "ShanghaiRanking's 2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  31. ^ "2023-2024 Best National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  32. ^ "2023 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  33. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  34. ^ "ShanghaiRanking's 2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  35. ^ "2022-23 Best Global Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  36. ^ "Thomas Jefferson University". U.S. News & World Report.
  37. ^ "Thomas Jefferson University (Global)". U.S. News & World Report.
  38. ^ "About PU". Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  39. ^ "Philadelphia University Research Center". Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  40. ^ SLOBODZIAN, JOSEPH. "Healer or monster?". www.philly.com.

External links[edit]

40°01′23″N 75°11′31″W / 40.023°N 75.192°W / 40.023; -75.192