History of the Medical College of Georgia

History 1896-1903

Dean Eugene Foster's tenure included many changes at MCG. Mrs. O'Connor became the first woman to apply to the school, but the faculty adamantly denied her admission. The scientific findings of Pasteur, Koch and Lister rapidly advanced the field of medicine in the late 19th century. New physicians required knowledge of anatomy, bacteriology, chemistry, histology, pathology, physiology and pharmacology. The MCG faculty believed students needed to attend class for four years to obtain this well-rounded education. The school offered an optional fourth year in 1898 to graduating students, charging only laboratory and matriculation fees. The 1899 graduates were the first to wear caps and gowns during commencement. The first caps displayed the colors of the University of Georgia. The school succeeded in adding the fourth-year requirement in 1900. Students focused on basic sciences the first two years and studied clinical sciences the last two years. Dean Foster discovered students were cheating for the past few years when he found a well-hole existed between the demonstrators office and the large amphitheatre. After the discovery, the faculty increased monitoring activities during testing periods.

Class of 1898
Class of 1898
Pathology Lab 1897
Lab Pictures 1897

Dr. Eugene Foster (1850-1903)
Dean, 1896-1903

Eugene Foster, DeanDr. Eugene Foster was born in Augusta and received his M.D. degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 1872. He did postgraduate work at University Medical College in New York, then returned to Augusta to oversee the smallpox hospital. He was an advocate for public health programs throughout his life, serving on the Augusta Board of Health, backing Augusta's implementation of its sewerage system, and being an active member of the American Public Health Association. While dean of the Medical Department of the University of Georgia, he lobbied to require four years for the medical degree in order to expand the curriculum to include emerging knowledge, such as bacteriology. In 1892, Dr. Foster gave the address at the first annual alumni association meeting in conjunction with commencement. He urged more cooperation among doctors and lashed out against quacks. As a proponent of using sound business principles to run the institution, his term as dean saw prosperous times, and he improved the physical plant with new equipment and expanded facilities. Dr. Foster died of cancer in January 1903.