The final year and legacy of the Geneva Medical College
During the 1860s, the Geneva Medical College struggled to fill its classes and its coffers were dwindling, mainly because it lacked a teaching hospital. Nearby Syracuse provided a much more advantageous place to locate a medical college—the population was significantly larger than Geneva’s, it had two hospitals, and the railways and canals gave students easy access to the school.
As a result, in 1871, the medical faculty and the board of trustees agreed to transfer Geneva Medical College to Syracuse University. John Towler who, according to the annual circular from that year, served as dean of Geneva Medical College, registrar, professor of general and special anatomy, and professor of chemistry, pharmacy, toxicology and medical jurisprudence, was designated to facilitate the transfer. Acting as a private citizen, he purchased the entire library, anatomical specimens, and other tangible assets from the Board of Trustees of Geneva College and donated them to Syracuse University on the condition that the trustees there establish an American Medical Association approved medical school. Thus, the Syracuse University College of Medicine was created in December of 1871 with Dr. Frederick Hyde, the former professor of surgery at Geneva Medical College, as its first dean.
The Syracuse University College of Medicine existed in Syracuse until 1950. It was then sold and became SUNY Upstate Medical Center. It was later renamed SUNY Upstate Medical University and still exists today.