Our History

Founded in 1900, Midwestern University is an independent, not-for-profit educational institution organized primarily to provide graduate and postgraduate education in the health sciences.

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.

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, the principles and practices of osteopathic medicine, anatomy, and basic science.

The growth of the 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 treating patients and began the first college in 1892, the profession has grown in reputation and acceptance around the country and international settings.

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 including the College of Pharmacy (1991) and the College of Health Sciences (1992). In 1993, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a single educational mission for the institution, and Midwestern University emerged. The Downers Grove Campus has since expanded to include the College of Dental Medicine–Illinois (2009), the Chicago College of Optometry (2014), and the College of Graduate Studies (2018). The Downers Grove Campus, located on 105 acres, has buildings that include academic classrooms, laboratories, a state-of-the-art library and auditorium building, and student housing. The Midwestern University Multispecialty Clinic was established in 2013 and includes the Dental Institute, a Family Medicine Practice, the Speech-Language Institute, the Physical Therapy Institute, the Eye Institute, and other health services designed to meet a wide range of healthcare needs.

The Glendale Campus was established in 1995 when the Board of Trustees approved the purchase of land and the building of a new campus in Arizona. The Glendale Campus is home to the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (1995), the College of Health Sciences (1996), the College of Pharmacy (1998), the College of Dental Medicine–Arizona (2006), the Arizona College of Optometry (2008), the College of Veterinary Medicine (2012), the College of Graduate Studies (2018), and the Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine (2020). The campus has seen rapid growth in the number of buildings, academic programs, faculty, staff, and students. The Glendale Campus, located on 156 acres, has buildings that provide for academic classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories, and student housing. Five Midwestern University Clinics provide quality care for the community: the Multispecialty Clinic, which opened in 2007; the Dental Institute and the Eye Institute, which opened in 2010; the Animal Health Institute—comprised of the Companion Animal Clinic (opened 2014), Equine and Bovine Center (opened 2015), and Diagnostic Pathology Center (opened 2016); and the Therapy Institute, which opened in 2020. The Midwestern University Comprehensive Care Clinic - Central Phoenix, operated in partnership since 2023, is located in north central Phoenix.

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