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History of Midwestern University

A Legacy of Growth and Development


Midwestern University has a proud and impressive history. Founded in 1900 as the American College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery by J. Martin Littlejohn, Ph.D., D.O., M.D. (1865-1947), the organization was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois, to train physicians in a not-for-profit environment.

MWU history 1

Dr. Littlejohn hired talented faculty that enabled the College to establish a reputation as a leader in medical education, research, and clinical practice. The early faculty mentored their students in the art and science of osteopathic medicine while teaching surgery, principles and practices of osteopathy, anatomy, and basic science. The growth of our osteopathic college is intertwined with that of the osteopathic medical profession itself. Ever since 1874 when a country doctor, Andrew Taylor Still, announced his new theory of osteopathy and began the first college in 1892, the profession has grown in reputation and acceptance around the country and many international settings.

Today, Midwestern University is still governed by the strong principles of the founding administration and faculty. We are an independent, not-for-profit corporation organized primarily to provide graduate and postgraduate education in the health sciences. We are dedicated to the education and development of our students, faculty, and staff in an environment that encourages learning and personal development.

MWU history 2From the earliest days of our founding college, the development of the University has been impressive. The vision of the University leadership is to serve the needs of society by developing the healthcare team of tomorrow, while students learn the art and science of their professions within a safe and secure campus environment.

The Downers Grove Campus was purchased in 1986, and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine moved from its prior home in Hyde Park, Illinois, to this western suburb of Illinois. Following the relocation of the College, the Board of Trustees voted to begin the development of new academic programs within the health sciences. The Chicago College of Pharmacy began in 1991, and the College of Health Sciences began in 1992. In 1993, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a single educational mission for the institution, and Midwestern University emerged. In 2009, the College of Dental Medicine–Illinois began, and in 2014, the new College of Optometry-Illinois was founded. The Downers Grove Campus, located on 105 acres, has buildings that include academic classrooms, laboratories, a state-of-the-art library, and student housing.

MWU history 3The Glendale, Arizona Campus was established in 1995, expanding to six colleges and 52 buildings - including state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory spaces, simulation labs, and student housing and support facilities - on 156 acres since that time. Over 3,500 students per year are enrolled in one of the Glendale Campus' 17 graduate-level healthcare degree programs. The campus is also home to Arizona's largest medical school and the state's only doctoral veterinary program.

In addition, Midwestern University offers comprehensive patient care at healthcare clinics near both campuses. Each clinical campus includes a Dental Institute, a Family Medicine Practice, a Speech-Language Institute, a Physical Therapy Institute, and an Eye Institute. In Arizona, clinical offerings also include an Animal Health Institute and specialty care in clinical psychology, podiatry, osteopathic manipulative medicine, and pharmacy services. Each Midwestern University Clinic offers a complete, comprehensive healthcare with state-of-the-art technology and facilities. Several clinics also feature Midwestern University faculty and students working together to provide patient treatment.

Midwestern University has developed strong partnerships with healthcare providers and facilities around the country to aid in the education of students in all of its academic programs. The history of the institution is reflected in the many alumni who have successful careers and a deep affection for their college and University. The Administration and the Board of Trustees are dedicated to fulfilling our mission of excellence and service. As we enter our second century, we remain committed to our tradition of providing quality healthcare education. We are tomorrow's healthcare team.