The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health of The Ohio State University traces its inception to the 1847 appointment of
Samuel M. Smith
, MD (1816-1874), as “Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Insanity” at the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus (a precursor of Ohio State’s College of Medicine). On Feb. 19, 1847, the trustees of the Willoughby Medical College met in and unanimously appointed Dr. Smith, a prominent Columbus physician, as chair. With this appointment, the first academic department of psychiatry (or its equivalent) in this country was established.
Although Dr. Smith's appointment as professor of Psychiatry was for slightly less than one year, records demonstrate that he delivered his lectures on insanity for at least a six-year period, and most likely longer. Annual catalog announcements for Starling Medical College continued to list Dr. Smith’s lectures from 1847 through 1853. After this date there is a gap in available bulletins until 1868 when William L. Peck
, MD, was appointed professor of Insanity and Nervous Diseases.
Dr. Smith’s continuing interest in Psychiatry was demonstrated by his involvement with the Columbus Asylum for the Insane as a trustee from 1856 until his death in 1874, and by an appointment in 1870 to a special committee of the Ohio State Medical Association to examine the plea of insanity in cases of homicide.
Dr. Smith died in Columbus on Nov. 30, 1874, two days after his 58th birthday from what was likely cerebral tuberculosis.
In 1994, Ohio State built a $15-million neuropsychiatric facility, Ohio State Harding Hospital
, to house a century and a half of knowledge about innovative patient treatment, as well as state-of-the-art clinical inpatient, outpatient, partial (for patients who commute to a treatment center) and research facilities.
A bronze statue in Dr. Smith’s memory stands outside Ohio State Harding Hospital. Images of his deceased sons, Charles and Samuel, are designed as medallions and decorate the sides of the base. Above the marble base is a full-size figure of Dr. Smith with his hands folded behind his back, wearing a Prince Albert coat. It has a drinking fountain base and bears the inscription: “Memorial Fountain, to Dr. Samuel Mitchel Smith and His Sons, 1880.”