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Timeline - Department of Psychiatry

This timeline was created to celebrate the Department of Psychiatry's 75th Anniversary. 

Laying the Foundation 

1925 -1926

Strong Memorial Hospital in 1925

The Hospital Opens

The medical school opened in 1925, and Strong Memorial Hospital opened its doors as a 250-bed community facility. Read more about the history of the URMC.

Frances Parsons, PhD, joined the Medical School faculty in 1926, one year after the school opened, as the first psychologist and woman to be appointed to the faculty.

1927 -1928

Aerial View of Strong Memorial Hospital early 1900's

The 1st University of Rochester Psychiatric Inpatient Unit

Outpatient Clinics established with a Foreshadowing of Forensic Psychiatry

The first Psychiatric inpatient unit associated with the University of Rochester and the School of Nursing opened on February 15, 1927, and outpatient clinics added services in 1928. 


Helen Woodward Rivas and photo of construction of hospital

A Generous Benefactor

Helen Woodward Rivas makes a gift to build a psychiatric clinic in the University of Rochester Medical Center and established a trust fund for its operation and maintenance—which continues to sustain the department in many ways.

Psychiatry as a Part of Medicine and
a Model for Interdisciplinary Care


John Romano and George Engel

The Official Beginning of the URMC Psychiatry Department & Birth of the Biopsychosocial Model

Dr. John Romano and Dr. George L. Engel Founders

Dr. John Romano was the founder and first chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry from 1946 to 1971. When Dr. John Romano was offered to establish an entirely new psychiatry department in 1946, he invited Dr. George L. Engel to join him in Rochester.

1947 - 1949

R Wing Construction

Construction of Wing R Begins

The Beginning of the Psychology Training Programs.

From 1948 to 1949, the Department of Psychiatry “Wing R” was completed. One of the first psychiatric facilities in the nation to be built as an integral part of a university hospital.  

1950 -1951

nurses Patricia Gosnell and Cecile Palmer

Psychiatric Nursing Education Program Begins

Social Work Education is Initiated

Gertrude A. Stokes, RN, MA, PhD, a graduate of John Hopkins with an M.A. from Teacher’s College, Columbia, became the first psychiatric nursing supervisor and instructor in nursing education in July 1950. She received her PhD in 1970 from New York University. Initiation of assignments of social casework students from Smith College for Social Workers.  The first class of medical students in Psychiatry completed training in 1950.

1953 -1954

Conservation Withdrawal Theory

George Engel, MD, Franz Reichsman, MD, and colleagues developed the conservation-withdrawal theory, which challenged the popular model of the time. During their work, a prospective case study began in 1953 and documents the life of an American woman, "Monica," born with a blockage to her esophagus requiring surgery. 



Robert Ader, patient room and psychiatry waiting room in the 1950's

Psychoneuroimmunology and Dr. Robert Ader

Dr. Robert Ader, Ph.D., joins the faculty. In 1980, he became internationally recognized for introducing Psychoneuroimmunology.


Elmer Gardner, activities center

Public Health and Preventive Psychiatry

Dr. Elmer Gardner Chairs the Department

Early development of the focus on Public Health and Preventive Psychiatry distinguished URMC Department of Psychiatry nationally and internationally. Establishment of the Division of Preventive Psychiatry under the direction of Dr. Elmer Gardner.

Racial unrest and a rebellion in July brought in the National Guard, a watershed event in the history of Rochester forcing the community to confront racial disparities.

Josephine Cobb, RN, and Robert Mitchel, RN, were named supervisors of psychiatric nursing in the department for the following inpatient psychiatric units: R-2, R-3, R-4, and X2 in the Municipal hospital during the 1960s.


R Wing North building Construction

The Family Movement Begins

Community Mental Health Center 

Groundbreaking of the Wing R North in the Department of Psychiatry.

The family movement in the department began in the late-1960's. Rodney Shapiro, Ph.D., in collaboration with social worker Elta Green, created a family therapy training program in 1971. The family training program would become mandatory for all psychology trainees and psychiatric residents.

A Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) is integrated into the Department of Psychiatry. 

Family Therapy and Community Mental Health


Lyman Wynne

Dr. Lyman Wynne Chairs the Department 

Innovations in Family Therapy and Schizophrenia

25th Anniversary of the Department of Psychiatry is Celebrated

Dr. Lyman Wynne succeeds Dr. Romano as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. In the field of family therapy, Dr. Wynne was among the most outstanding innovators and mentors who laid the foundation for family-based therapies both nationally and internationally. His life was devoted to understanding and alleviating the suffering of patients with schizophrenia and the burdens that their family members experienced

1973 - 1974

Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program (MMTP) Begins

The Methadone Maintenance Program is instituted by social worker Judith McKay and Dr. Haroutun Babigian, MD, director of CMHC. 

In 1974 the The Department of Psychiatry merged with Strong Memorial Hospital. 

1976 -1977

Haroutun Babigian

The Epidemiological Registry is Created in Rochester

Dr. Haroutun Babigian is the Department Chair

Dr. Haroutun Babigian, MD chairs the Department of Psychiatry and creates the first epidemiological registry in Rochester and the first capitated payment system for mental health in the USA.

The Department welcomed the first deaf psychology intern in 1976. 


The Extended Care Clinic is Established

The Extended Care Clinic is established within the Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) for severely mentally ill adults run by nurses Peg Bushey and Louise Roden. The Department of Psychiatry begins laying groundwork for integrated mental health.


Susan McDaniel and Richard Ciccone, Front of psychiatry building

The Birth of Medical Family Therapy

The Emergence of Forensic Psychiatry

Susan McDaniel, PhD fosters the “birth” of Medical Family Therapy and Family-Oriented Primary Care along with an MFT integrated care training program. Under the direction of Dr. J. Richard Ciccone the department provided national leadership in the development and emergence of Forensic Psychiatry. 


Family Therapy Education and the Alzheimer's Clinic

The Family Therapy Training Program is established integrating the Biopsychosocial model with Transitional Family Therapy. Alzheimer’s Clinic is started as a joint venture with Neurology and Psychiatry led by Dr. Robert Joynt and Dr. Eric Caine.


David Bonacci and Highland Hospital building

The Geropsychiatry Clinic and Behavioral Health Services at Highland Hospital

Dr. David Bonacci establishes and lead the Geropsychiatry Clinic.  Behavioral Health Services are deployed to Highland Hospital.


outside of Strong Ties building

Strong Ties Begins

Alcoholism and the Drug Dependency Program (ADDP) is Established

The Alzheimer's Disease Care, Research and Education Program (AD-CARE) is initiated.

The nation’s first capitated payment system for severely and persistently mentally ill adults is piloted under the Monroe Livingston Demonstration Project which became Strong Ties Community Support Program in 1988. 


yellow ribbons with hands to symbolize suicide prevention

The Laboratory of Suicide Studies Begins

In 1999 the Laboratory will become The Center for the Study & Prevention of Suicide (CSPS). 


Gloria Baciewicz RobertPollard Strong Recovery entry

The Beginning of the Deaf Wellness Center and Strong Recovery

In 1999, the Deaf Wellness Center is founded and directed by Dr. Robert Q Pollard, Jr. The  Alcohol and Drug Dependency Program is merged with the Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program and renamed Strong Recovery in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Gloria Baciewicz


group of psychiatry faculty at table discussing data

Expanding Degree Programs and the Beginning of Child & Adolescent Inpatient Services 

M.S. degree in Marriage and Family Therapy Education Program established. Child & Adolescent inpatient services opens and expands in 2002.

Innovation & Culturally Relevant Care


Eric Cane and Outpatient Services Building

The Medicine in Psychiatry Service and Dr. Eric Caine

Dr. Roger Boulay and Dr. Telva Olivares begin providing preventive medical care to severely and persistently mentally ill individuals at our Strong Ties Clinic. Later in 1999 MIPS officially becomes a billable service through the Department of Health. Dr. Eric Caine becomes the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry.


The Employee Assistance Program Begins

50th Anniversary of the Department of Psychiatry is Celebrated

In 1997, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) begins working with the Rochester Fire Department. EAP services are expanded in 1998 to support University of Rochester employees.  The Department of Psychiatry Celebrates 50 years. View 50th Anniversary Celebration booklet


Adele and Lyman Wynne and Mental Health and Wellness building

The Wynne Center for Family Research and Child & Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Opens

Dr. Lyman Wynne, with his wife, Adele, also a therapist, co-founded the Wynne Center for Family Research at URMC that continues to thrive today.


Telva Olivares, Lazos Fuertes Outpatient Clinic

The Lazos Fuertes Outpatient Clinic Opens

Led by Dr. Telva Olivares, Lazos Fuertes, a bicultural/bilingual outpatient clinic, opens to improve the health of the Rochester Hispanic community led by Dr. Olivares.  

1999 - 2000

Steve Lamberti, Robert Weisman, FACT committee

 Forensic Assertive Community Treatment Initiated 

The Rochester Forensic Assertive Community Treatment model (R-FACT), lead by Dr. Steve Lamberti and Robert Weisman, a nationally recognized, groundbreaking model of care was initiated. 

2002 - 2003

Yeates Conwell, Catherine Cerulli and mental health and wellness building

The Laboratory for Interpersonal Violence and Victimization (LIVV) is Founded 

Senior Health and Research Alliance is Established

Catherine Cerulli, JD, PhD, founded the Laboratory for Interpersonal Violence (LIVV) and Yeates Conwell establishes the Senior Health and Research (SHARE) Alliance.


The Behavioral Medical-Surgical Unit (BMSU) Opens 

The Department of Psychiatry's Advisory Council of Consumers (DPACC) is Formed

The Behavioral Medical-Surgical Unit (BMSU) provides integrated inpatient care for patients with mental illness and co-occurring medical illness. In 2017 the BMSU was renamed the “Inpatient Medicine in Psychiatry Unit” to better reflect the mission of providing acute medical care that is tailored and targeted to the biopsychosocial needs of patients with severe mental illnesses.

The Department of Psychiatry’s Advisory Council of Consumers (DPACC) becomes a nationally recognized council for its effectiveness in shaping patient and family-centered care in Psychiatry.


Bridge Art gallery hallway with photos

The Bridge Art Gallery Opens to the Public

The Department of Psychiatry’s Bridge Art Gallery opens, a community gallery designed to reduce the stigma of mental illness and mental health care. Visit the Bridge Art Gallery webpage for more information. 

2013 - 2015

Leveraging Technology with Telepsychiatry and Project ECHO®

Behavioral Health Partners is Created

UR Medicine’s Telepsychiatry program,  Project ECHO® and Behavioral Health Partners begins. 


Catherine Cerulli, Dr. Ellen Poleshuck, HEAL Center building and graphic

The HEAL Collaborative is Established

Drs. Catherine Cerulli, JD, PhD (LIVV) and Dr. Ellen Poleshuck, PhD, along with co-workers in the Psychiatry Department and community partners, worked together to begin the HEAL Collaborative, the groundbreaking program Healing through Education, Advocacy, and Law (HEAL). 

Celebrating the Biopsychosocial Model


Ben Lee

The Laboratory of Behavioral Health Skills is Established

 Dr. H. Benjamin Lee is the New Department Chair

The Laboratory of Behavioral Health Skills is  established by Dr. Wendi Cross and Steve Fasone with support and input from Dr. Ben Lee for hands on learning and competence assessment. H. Benjamin Lee, MD becomes the chair of the Department of Psychiatry.


Dice Board Members

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity (DICE) Established

The Department of Psychiatry’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity (DICE) is created following many years of departmental diversity work dating back to 1990.


Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Services building and Adult Outpatient Services ribbon cutting

The Relocation of Wellness Adult Outpatient Services

Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health Opens New Building

Mental Health & Wellness Adult Outpatient Services moves downtown. The new Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health building brings outpatient and partial hospitalization services under one roof.


SUMMITS inpatient services ribbon cutting

First-of-Its-Kind SUMMITS inpatient Medical-Psychiatry Unit Opens

In July of 2021, the Department of Psychiatry opened The SUMMITS (Substance Use, Medical Management, Infection Treatment, and Support), a new 10-bed inpatient medical-psychiatry unit to provide specialized care and mental health resources for hospitalized individuals who have a co-morbidity resulting from substance use disorders.


building with UR sign and clouds

75th Anniversary of the Department of Psychiatry 

Celebrating the Biopsychosocial Model

Looking to the Future