OKLAHOMA'S HEALTHY HERITAGE
GOV. WILLIAM H.
practice at University
DR. LEROY LONG:
"Care of patients
(should) be limited to
the regular medical
A test of wills
Seventh in a series honoring
Oklahoma's Diamond Jubilee
By Karen Klin :ka
By 1930, the University of Oklahoma
School of Medicine was solidly established
as a "Class A" medical school. Forty-
seven MD degrees were awarded that year
and the school had 130 faculty members, a
well-rounded curriculum and two excellent
teaching hospitals: University Hospital,
opened in 1919, and Crippled Children's
Hospital, in 1928.
The combined budget for the medical
school and hospitals in 1930 was $668,250,
of which: the School of Medicine was allocated $134,570 for operations and salaries. About this time, OU President William B. Bizsell and the Regents separated
the budget of the medical and nursing
schools and the university hospitals from
the main:budget for the university in Norman. Purpose of the separation was to protect the medical campus and to reduce in-
tra-university squabbles over appropriations from the Legislature.
By 1930, the salary of Dr. LeRoy Long,
the medical school s able and conscientious
dean, was increased to $5,000 a year.
But despite these strides, the School of
Medicine was to- undergo a severe testing
with the election in 1930 of William H.
Murray as Oklahoma's ninth governor.
Murray, known as the "sage of Tishomingo, had been a flamboyant figure in
Oklahoma politics since statehood. He
served as president of the Oklahoma Constitutional;. Convention in 1906 in Guthrie
■and, "in 1907, was elected Speaker of the
House of the first state Legislature.
He also had been defeated several times
in races; for governor. After an unsuccessful -fed m 1918, Murray left Oklahoma
and stayed away nearly 10 years. He
returned in 1929 to find Oklahoma, like
the rest of the nation, suffering from a
severe economic depression. Much of Oklahoma s population was: impoverished;-
debt-ridden and discouraged and'Murray
quickly perceived that it was an opportune
time for him to run again for governor. He
was elected handily, Many Oklahomans,
desperate for a quick solution: to their problems embraced ""Alfalfa Bill's" simplistic campaign message that state govern-;
ment was mismanaged and a ' tool of cor-.
During his campaign, Murray denounc- .
ed colleges and universities, saying they
turned students into "high toned bums.
Once he was governor, Murray set
about making good On his promise to radically change Oklahoma's educational
One choice target was the OU medical
school and its scholarly dean who coolly resisted Murray s patronage efforts to replace many medical school and hospital
personnel with political cronies.
Initially, Murray merely harassed the'
medical school with accusations of mismanagement and subsequent investigations at
both teaching hospitals. Long probably
might have ignored Murray's meddling into the school s administration and budget.
But, on July 27, 1931, "Alfalfa Bill"' issued an executive order that made.-a collision between the two personalities inevit-
Two days earlier, Murray had been
asked by relatives of a dying woman patient
at University1 Hospital that she receive "a
combined treatment of medicine and chiropractic methods.' Murray's executive
order directed authorities of the University
to allow 'any chiropractitioner" to prac
tice in University Hospital "Denial of the
patient and her family to have such treatment is a discrimination in the law between
regularly licensed and lawfully permitted
attendance upon the sick, 'Murray's order asserted.
I he idea of allowing "a member of one
of the cults to practice end treat patients
at either of the teaching hospitals was anathema to Long. What's more, he knew
that Murray s order was: potentially ruinous to the medical school. The school's
approval by the American Medical Association could be instantly withdrawn and its
-prized "A rating lost.
Long sought support for his position
from the OU Regents but they were unwitli- :
ing to side with Long and risk; the governor s wrath. Reluctantly, Long decided to
resign as dean, believing his departure
might save the school, rally support from
the state s physicians and force the Regents to take action.
Long s action had an immediate effect:
Pour days later the Regents met and. reasserting their jurisdiction over the School of
Medicine, ruled that only doctors of medicine could treat patients at the university s
Murray Cfuickiy challenged; the Regents'
right to decide who could practice at the
university hospitals. Eventually, the matter;
was decided by the State Supreme Court,
which affirmed the Regents': jurisdiction
ov^r the hospitals.
After his resignation. Long immersed
himself in his surgical practice and became
even more active in the Oklahoma State
Medical Association, which elected Kim
president in 1934.
He never returned to the medicalschool
in any official capacity^ For the OU School
:bf Medicine, 1931 was: the end of an era.
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