Past Presidents | Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Past Presidents

Learn about past presidents of the College and PCOM's history.

1899 – 1904

Portrait painting of Oscar John Snyder, DOOscar John Snyder, DO, co-founded the Philadelphia College and Infirmary of Osteopathy in 1899 along with Reverend Mason Wiley Pressly, DO. Dr. Snyder served as the College's first president and continued to be involved as a trustee until his death in 1947. Under Dr. Snyder's leadership, the College experienced significant growth in facilities, students, and faculty.

Under Dr. Snyder's leadership, the College experienced significant growth in facilities, students, and faculty. It moved to a new campus at 33rd and Arch Streets from its original location at 21 S. 12th Street. He awarded the College's first degrees in 1899 and 1900.

As the faculty at the College grew, disputes over compensation arose. In 1904, the faculty presented an ultimatum, demanding that Drs. Snyder and Pressly step down and relinquish their stock to the corporation, threatening to resign otherwise. Both doctors complied, and the College's leadership transitioned to the board. Despite stepping down, Dr. Snyder maintained a close connection to the College's leadership and remained dedicated to advocating for the osteopathic profession throughout his life.

Dr. Snyder remained dedicated to the advancement of osteopathy throughout his life. He played a crucial role in legalizing osteopathy in Pennsylvania and founded the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Association. Additionally, he served as the first chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Osteopathic Examiners and held prominent positions in various osteopathic organizations, including the American Osteopathic Association.

1904 – 1953

The Board of Trustees and its Chairmen directed the College during these years of growth.

After many prosperous years on Pine Street, PCIO bought its first building at 19th and Spring Garden streets in 1916. The College, officially renamed Philadelphia College of Osteopathy (PCO) in 1921, added a new hospital to the rear and acquired two adjacent townhouses—one for additional classrooms and clinics, the other for a nurses’ home.

The 1930s were a time when the curriculum expanded, pre-osteopathic and graduate schools started and PCO created the profession’s first Department of Osteopathic Research. It was also a time when the clinics, known for their “booth doctors,” played an increasingly important role in providing health care to the community.

During the war years, PCO accelerated the curriculum from four years to three, then welcomed many returning GIs into the classes of the late 1940s and 1950s. Medicine was becoming more specialized and complex, increasing the need for clinical training.

In 1951 PCO acquired Women's Homeopathic Hospital at 20th Street and Susquehanna Avenue, making it into a satellite facility called North Center Hospital. Many PCO medical students, nurses, interns and residents trained here.

The school would have its second president beginning in 1953.

1953 – 1957

Portrait painting of William E. Brandt, DOWilliam E. Brandt, DO, became the second president of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy (PCO) in 1953 after the College and hospital were consolidated into a single corporation.

Before his career in higher education, he had a diverse background as a practicing osteopathic physician, sports writer, public relations specialist, and broadcaster. In 1950, he joined Muhlenberg College and later transitioned to PCO as executive assistant to the chairman of the Board of Trustees, eventually becoming dean and then president.

During his five-year tenure as president, PCO experienced facility expansion and celebrated its 75th anniversary. Dr. Brandt focused on improving educational standards within the osteopathic profession. He also played a significant role in establishing the Osteopathic Digest as a notable publication in the field.

After retiring from PCO, Dr. Brandt took on the role of interim editor for the American Osteopathic Association's publications in Chicago until his passing in 1963.

1957 – 1974

Portrait painting of Frederic H. Barth, DSc (Hon.), LLD (Hon.)Frederic H. Barth began his service to the institution in 1948 as a member of the Hospital board of directors and then the College board of directors. By the year's end, he became chairman of both boards. Dr. Barth played a crucial role in merging the two entities into a single Pennsylvania corporation, serving as its president.

He became the president of PCO in 1957, later assuming the role of chancellor in 1974. Dr. Barth understood the challenges faced by the College and worked to make it eligible for support from the Commonwealth by converting it into a Pennsylvania domestic corporation. During his leadership, significant expansions occurred, including the purchase of the Women's Homeopathic Hospital and the development of a new campus and hospital complex at the Moss Estate on City Avenue.

Dr. Barth actively contributed to the advancement of the osteopathic profession's educational activities and served as president of the American Association of Osteopathic Colleges in 1969. Additionally, he engaged in various civic service roles, including acting postmaster of Philadelphia and representing the United States delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Barth received the O.J. Snyder Memorial Medal in 1970. He passed away in 1976 in the osteopathic hospital named in his honor, the Frederic H. Barth Pavilion.

1974 – 1984

Portrait photograph of Thomas M. Rowland, Jr., DO (Hon.), LLD (Hon.)Thomas M. Rowland, Jr. devoted 34 years of his life to PCOM, distinguishing himself as a leader, an educator and a friend to students, alumni, faculty and employees. Rowland was a World War II veteran (an experience he shared with many students and alumni) and a graduate of Temple University with postgraduate studies in public administration.

He began his career at PCO in 1950 as assistant registrar and soon advanced to registrar and director of admissions, introducing more than 2,000 students to the osteopathic profession. The Class of 1954 awarded Rowland an honorary DO degree. Between 1959 and 1973, he rose through the ranks from President Barth's administrative assistant to executive vice president. From 1973 until his death in 1984, Rowland served as PCOM's fourth president. President Rowland led the development of PCOM into the Osteopathic Medical Center of Philadelphia.

Under his leadership, PCOM became the ninth largest medical college in the United States in terms of enrollment and the largest among the 15 osteopathic colleges. Dr. Rowland was dedicated to education and received recognition for his teaching excellence. He actively supported alumni activities and athletics and introduced initiatives such as the Annual Giving Campaign and the Founders' Day Alumni Dinner Dance.

Beyond the PCOM community, Dr. Rowland was committed to advancing the osteopathic profession and served on various committees of the American Osteopathic Association and as president of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

1984 – 1990

Portrait photograph of J. Peter Tilley, DOJ. Peter Tilley, a radiologist with dual certification in nuclear medicine, joined the faculty of PCOM in 1966. He held various leadership positions, including vice chairman of radiology and director of nuclear medicine, before being elected as the fifth president of PCOM in 1984.

Dr. Tilley took on the role of interim leader after the passing of Dr. Rowland, the previous president, and gained the trust and respect of the board, staff, and faculty during this time. His father was a PCOM alumnus, and Dr. Tilley himself graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, completing his internship and residency training at PCOM.

His presidency coincided with a challenging period for PCOM, facing historic financial deficits and changes in the healthcare industry due to managed care. As an academic medical center, the College was compelled to provide financial support for Barth Pavilion during a period of low patient numbers and management issues.

Dr. Tilley and the PCOM Corporation attempted to address financial challenges through corporate reorganization, aiming to diversify financial responsibility and involve more members of the professional staff in governance. However, the reorganization did not fully solve the hospital's problems. In 1989, Dr. Tilley proposed selling Barth Pavilion to grow the institution.

But to many of the staff, faculty and alumni whose lives had revolved around the osteopathic hospital, selling the facility was not a viable option. Factions developed over this issue, which ultimately contributed to Tilley's resignation.

Tilley resigned at a board of trustees meeting on March 9, 1990. Several members of the board resigned at this time as well.

1990 – 2000

Portrait painting of Leonard H. Finkelstein, DOLeonard H. Finkelstein, DO '59, MSc '63, FACOS, has played an important role in shaping PCOM as an educator, a clinician and from 1990-2000, as the College's sixth president. He received his DO degree in 1959 and after an internship and general surgery residency at Zieger Osteopathic Hospital in Detroit, returned to his alma mater in 1961 for a residency in urologic surgery.

Finkelstein officially joined the College faculty in 1970 as chairman of the Division of Urology. Before stepping down from this post in 1993 to focus on his responsibilities as PCOM's president, he developed an outstanding urology residency program.

Finkelstein was a preeminent urologic surgeon, trained in a PCOM tradition begun by H. Willard Sterrett, DO (1917), in the 1940s, yet focused on cutting-edge ideas and technologies such as laser surgery, which he introduced to PCOM's Division of Urology in the early 1980s. As a pioneering researcher in urology in the osteopathic profession, he lectured and published extensively. In October 1984 Finkelstein became the first DO urologist to publish in the Surgical Clinics of North America, and the first DO not affiliated with an allopathic institution to publish in The American Journal of Surgery.

As president, Finkelstein steered PCOM through times that threatened the very survival of the institution. He orchestrated the purchase of Metropolitan Hospital's Parkview Division in 1990 and eventually sold both Parkview and Barth Pavilion to Graduate Health System in 1993. These transactions resulted in a financial turnaround for the College, moving from a $6 million deficit to a $4 million surplus within a year.

Under his leadership, the College's curriculum was enhanced, the graduate medical education program expanded, and a modern campus was developed through a master facilities plan. Dr. Finkelstein also rebuilt the College's financial foundation through a successful $25 million capital campaign.

He was a dedicated advocate for the osteopathic profession and served as president of the American Osteopathic Foundation Board of Directors and the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association. Finkelstein received several prestigious awards, including the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon Award.

He stepped down as president in 2000 to become the chancellor until his passing in 2019. He retired from his academic posts in 2014 and was named professor emeritus in 2015.

2000 – 2014

Portrait photograph of Matthew Schure, PhDMatthew Schure, PhD, became the seventh president and CEO of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) in 2000. Prior to joining PCOM, he spent 30 years at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), where he held various academic and administrative roles and eventually became the president and CEO in 1991.

During his tenure at PCOM, Dr. Schure focused on expanding the College both in scope and size. He introduced new graduate programs in organizational development and leadership, forensic medicine, and school psychology, and also increased clinical teaching fellowships. Under his leadership, PCOM acquired the former City Avenue Hospital, and the funds from its sale were allocated for need-based student scholarships. Additionally, he oversaw the establishment of PCOM Georgia, the College's first branch campus located in Suwanee, Georgia.

Dr. Schure promoted research and education in osteopathic medicine, leading to the creation of the Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging and the implementation of competency-based assessment methods through the opening of the College's first clinical learning and assessment center.

Schure and the PCOM Board of Trustees aligned strategic objectives with business plans, managing to keep tuition increases in check for over a decade while significantly building the College's endowment.

Dr. Schure was deeply committed to osteopathic education and served as chairman of the American Osteopathic Association Council on Pre-doctoral Education and chairman of the board of governors of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

A native of Queens, New York, Dr. Schure held a bachelor’s degree from Queens College and a doctoral degree, a master of philosophy degree, and a master of arts degree in educational psychology from Columbia University. He died in 2023.