History of the Medical College of Georgia


1931-1934

The Georgia Legislature united all state institutions into the University System of Georgia in 1931 and established the Board of Regents. Within two years, the board assumed complete control of the universities, and in one of its first meetings, it closed eight schools including the Medical Department. The regent's listed several reasons for closing the school: lack of funds, inadequate equipment, not enough classrooms or clinical areas and insufficient number of full-time teachers. The students, faculty, alumni and Augustans rallied to reopen the school. People sent letters, petitions and telegrams to regent's. Gov. Eugene Talmadge, a board member, visited Augusta shortly before the hearing on the fate of the Medical Department, and the public support for the school overwhelmed him. He promised Augustans that he would vote to overturn the decision. He kept his word and deserves credit for saving the medical school. After the Regent's reinstated the Department, they changed the name of the institution to the University of Georgia School of Medicine.

Problems for the institution continued after the reunification with the University System in 1933. The Depression and lack of finances kept Dean William Lorenzo Moss from making the regent's recommended improvements. In addition, Drs. William Cutter and M. Ireland, members of the Council of Medical Education and Hospitals (MEH), inspected the school. Several months later, Drs. Ross Patterson and Fred Zapffe, members of the Executive Council of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), examined the facilities. In February 1934, both councils released their reports: The MEH removed the school from the Class A listing, and the AAMC recommended revoking the schools membership. Both of the reports were similar to the regent's comments: lack of funds, faculty and appropriate clinical teaching space. The regent's decided a change of deans would improve the situation, and they asked Dean Moss to resign.

Class of 1932
Class of 1932
Announcement of 1933-1934
Announcement of 1933-1934

Dr. William Lorenzo Moss (1876-1957)
Dean, 1931-1934

William Moss, DeanDr. William Moss, a native of Athens, Ga., received a BS degree from the University of Georgia in 1897 and earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1905. Moss spent many years as a teacher and researcher at Johns Hopkins, Yale and Harvard universities, and in 1926 he was acting dean at Harvard's School of Public Health Medicine. After serving as dean, he returned to his research activities. He is best known for his outstanding contributions in the fields of blood classification, tropical medicine and hemorrhagic diseases. His most noted contribution was the Moss System, a classification of blood groups, which he labeled I through IV. The Moss System was widely used throughout the world until modified during World War II. Dr. Moss headed numerous international medical research expeditions in the Caribbean, South America and the South Pacific. He was most interested in expeditions that advanced medical knowledge.