The University of Minnesota Twin Cities approved creation of the University Health Service in spring 1918. It was a prescient action. By September, when the clinic opened, the Twin Cities reported its first case of the Great Influenza, the world’s deadliest epidemic.
One patient during that outbreak was a young medical student, Ruth Boynton–who would become a leader in public health, director of the University’s health service and, eventually, its namesake.
In the last 100 years, Boynton remained a vanguard among college health centers, leading the field with innovation and a commitment to whole campus health.
100 Years of Firsts
1918 University Health Service founded to “protect the health of students and prevent disease.”
1920s Dental and mental health services added.
1936 Ruth Boynton, MD, named health director. Dr. Boynton was the first, and for many years, only woman in the country directing a co-educational health service. She served until 1961.
Ruth Boynton, MD, in 1936
1940s First college health center to require tuberculosis testing on campus.
1954 Hires first full-time college health educator in the country.
First college health educator
1975 Renamed in honor of Dr. Ruth Boynton. The same year, the University required all students have hospitalization insurance, allowing Boynton to develop a health insurance program for students guaranteeing access to health care while enrolled.
1979 First college health center with a Quality Assurance program, and first college health service and first clinic in the Twin Cities to be accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Boynton has maintained accreditation ever since.
1995 Conducts first population-based health assessment of university students. The survey became the model for the National College Health Assessment developed by the American College Health Association. Data from Boynton’s College Student Health Survey informed important public health actions, including:
- Examination of credit card debt among college students by the U.S. General Accounting Office (1998);
- Inclusion of college students as a priority for Minnesota state tobacco prevention and cessation efforts (1999).
2001 Partially self-funded Student Health Benefit Plan with no pre-existing condition exclusions offered to students.
2007 Opens first convenience care clinic, Gopher Quick Clinic, in a college health center.
2017 One of the first college health services in the country to offer Transgender Health.
Boynton: Still a College Health Leader
Today, Boynton Health is one of the most comprehensive college student health services in the nation. It serves as a model for our health care system because it is responsive to the community, combines medical care and public health, and has a developmental approach to health.
Boynton Health today