State-supported medical education in Iowa traces back to the winter of 1850-51, when the state legislature recognized the Keokuk College of Physicians and Surgeons as the official Medical Department of the State University of Iowa. The Keokuk College had begun operations a year earlier as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Upper Mississippi in Davenport, graduating 15 physicians before its move to Keokuk. It would continue to operate the state-sponsored medical college for another 20 years, and as an independent institution for an additional 40 years.
In the late 1860s, a prominent Davenport surgeon named Washington Freeman Peck initiated efforts to create a medical college in Iowa City. With support from Judge John F. Dillon (a patient of Peck’s and a graduate of the original Davenport medical college) and the Honorable John P. Irish (Iowa City newspaper editor, state legislator, and a member of the university Board of Trustees), the Iowa City medical department gained approval as the official University medical college in 1870. The UI college was a founding member of the Association of American Medical Colleges in 1876.
The college opened doors for its first class on Sept. 20, 1870. The faculty consisted of eight professors, including Washington Peck as dean and professor of surgery, and Judge Dillon as a professor of medical jurisprudence. The first class consisted of 37 students, including eight women. The Iowa College of Medicine thus became the first public institution in the country to admit women to its class. The curriculum for the first class consisted of a two-week course of lectures followed by 16 weeks of clinical training. In 1898, the original University Hospital was opened, the first university teaching hospital west of the Mississippi river. Eventually it will be the largest such university-owned institution in America.
By 1928, a full medical campus was operating west of the Iowa River. The College of Medicine has enjoyed continual growth and expansion of its mission and services since that time.
In 2001, the College was named for Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver in recognition of the Carvers’ more than $90 million in gifts supporting patient care and research.
Today, the College sits at the heart of a health sciences campus that also includes the colleges of Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health, as well as UI Hospitals and Clinics and the nearby Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.