University of California San Francisco

Robert A Mclean MD
Robert A. McLean, MD

Former Chair
UCSF Department of Surgery


    After the disastrous 1906 earthquake damaged or destroyed most of the city’s existing hospitals, the urgent need for medical facilities necessitated remodeling the medical school building so that it could serve as a hospital. The first UC Hospital opened in 1907 (Figure 2B), under the direction of surgeon Harry Mitchell Sherman, MD. Toland continued as professor of surgery until his death in 1880. He was succeeded by Robert A. McLean, MD, a California native, a graduate of Toland Medical College, and professor of anatomy, who introduced for- mal coursework in the new science of bacteriology into the curriculum. 

    By the mid 1890s, the three affiliated colleges were rapidly running out of room. In 1893 Medical College Dean Robert McLean complained to the UC president that Toland Medical Building “has become un t for the teaching of modern medicine.” A committee of faculty and alumni lobbied the state legislature for three years, and finally in 1895 Governor James H. Budd (a California alumnus) approved the legislature’s unanimous appropriation of $250,000 for construction of the University colleges of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and law. 

    Controversy developed over the potential sites for the colleges, and as late as May 1895, seven different sites were still being considered. In July of 1895, San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro donated 13 acres overlooking 

    Golden Gate Park for the proposed affiliated colleges. Construction began on October 20, 1896. The three Romanesque stone buildings of the colleges were completed and occupied by October 1898. State support had been limited to construction, leaving the furnishing of labs and lecture halls to the college faculties and trustees. The Medical Department succeeded in developing a 1220-seat auditorium, “the nest dissecting room in the world at the present time,” and “spacious laboratories for pathology, bacteriology, chemistry and physiology,” all featured in a glossy brochure.