What was once a plain, white wall outside the auditorium at WMed’s W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus was transformed recently into a bright, living reminder of the historic moments that led to the birth of the medical school.
The new timeline wall, which is 10 feet tall and 43 feet wide, was installed in late June by Agio Imaging and recaps the rich history and legacy of educational excellence, health care, research and life science exploration that provided the foundation for WMed.
As faculty, residents, students, staff and visitors pass the new timeline wall, they’re treated to bright photos and a quick history lesson about the moments that marked the journey of the medical school evolving from the vision of Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn in 2007 to reality in 2014 with the opening of the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus in downtown Kalamazoo.
“It’s important for us as an institution, as we continue to grow and advance, to never forget about our roots, about everything – and everyone – that helped make WMed possible,” said Michele Serbenski, associate dean of Planning and Performance Excellence, who led efforts for the installation of the timeline. “This timeline wall accomplishes that by serving as a daily reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re headed.”
The timeline wall, which will grow in size after the medical school’s inaugural Class of 2018 graduates in May, currently includes nine key historic moments, beginning with March, 22, 2011, the day an anonymous $100 million gift to WMU was announced to serve as the foundation funding for WMed.
The timeline, for now, concludes with September 17 and 18, 2014, which were marked by the White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2018 and a Grand Opening Celebration at the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus that was attended by more than 1,500 people.
Sprinkled in between March 2011 and September 2014 are other important milestones for the medical school, including December 8, 2011, when William U. Parfet, the great-grandson of Dr. W.E. Upjohn and then the chair and chief executive office of MPI Research, donated the seven-story, 330,000 square-foot building to WMU that became the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus.
Also included on the wall is July 1, 2012, when Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies merged into WMed. By October 12, 2012, ground was broken on the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus and one year later, on October 2, 2013, the “Topping Out” ceremony for the new $68 million addition to the medical school building was held.
In March 2014, three months before the opening of the downtown campus, came the announcement of the WMed’s namesake, Dr. Homer H. Stryker. The naming fulfilled the wishes of the donors of the $100 million foundational gift – Stryker’s granddaughter, Ronda Stryker, and her husband, William D. Johnston, a WMU trustee.