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A History: Basic Sciences Education Building

Basic Science Education Building

Medical students traditionally spend their first two years in the study of basic medical sciences – anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and microbiology. In 1964, when Dr. James L. Dennis took over the reins of the OU College of Medicine and the then OU Medical Center, he found first- and second-year students sitting in the aisles of the lecture hall and working in seriously overcrowded laboratories.

With the dream of an expanded medical center to address the health needs for the state of Oklahoma already taking shape, Dr. Dennis realized a new facility to house basic science education was a critical first step in fulfilling this dream. With a 1963 mandate by the national government to expand medical schools, the university was able to secure federal funding and local matching funds for the construction of a basic science educational facility. And with the backing of E.T. Dunlap, chancellor of the State Regents for Higher Education, Dr. Dennis obtained support for the project from the State Regents and the State Legislature.

A dormitory building for student nurses was razed to make room for the new structure, and groundbreaking was held in October 1967. During the ceremony, Dr. Dennis and OU President George Lynn Cross presented a model of the building to Stephen Campbell, president of the medical school’s student organization, to signify that it had been designed specifically to serve the needs of students.

Five years and five months after Dr. Dennis became OU Medical Center director, the first major new structure of the expanding health center was completed. At the 1970 dedication ceremony, Gov. Dewey Bartlett said, “As this center grows, the number of doctors who will serve the needs of the people of this state will grow.”

The Basic Sciences Education Building made it possible to increase the size of each medical school class from 104 to 126, and provided teaching space for the new College of Dentistry during the construction of the College of Dentistry Building. The BSEB continues to serve the basic science education needs for OU dental students and the Physician Associate Program. In addition to two large lecture halls, research laboratories, the gross anatomy teaching laboratory, and an inner courtyard, the BSEB features rooms, or “modules,” on the first and second floors that serve as home base for first- and second-year medical students and accommodate small-group teaching. The BSEB also is home to the OU Willed Body Program and the State Anatomical Board, which serves the 13 state institutions that teach human anatomy.