George M. Wohlreich, who took over running the College of Physicians of Philadelphia 15 years ago and led its Mütter Museum through a period of explosive growth, will retire next June, at the end of the current fiscal year, the college announced in a statement Thursday.
Wohlreich, 78, came to the college in 2006 after a career as a psychiatrist and took it from an institution with 50,000 to 60,000 visitors annually to one with over 130,000 visitors a year prior to virus-ravaged 2020.
Board chairman Dr. Thomas Fekete was effusive in his praise of Wohlreich. “When we look at the college today,” he said, “it is clear that George has accomplished what he was hired for and so much more. From our exciting Center for Education to our internationally celebrated History of Vaccines website, he has truly created the College of Physicians of the 21st century.”
Wohlreich was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
The college, in a historically certified building on South 22nd Street, is an association devoted to education and the spread of humanistic values in medicine.
Wohlreich built on the legacy of curator and director Gretchen Worden, who died in 2004. He founded the Center for Education and conceived of the History of Vaccines website. He re-created the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden and constructed the Templeton veranda, instituted Philadelphia Orchestra musicians concerts, and created the Delaware Valley Medical Student Wellness Collaborative.
In 2018, working with the board of directors, he launched the college’s first comprehensive capital campaign, designed to endow staff positions and programs, and double the size of the Mütter.
But the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, shutting the museum for four months (it has reopened). The board and Wohlreich are now pondering how best to approach the campaign in a time of uncertainty.
Fekete will appoint a search committee to find a successor, and a series of events is being planned to celebrate Wohlreich’s tenure.
“Our preeminent position today, both in the field of medical history and in the public health arena, is a direct result of George’s tremendous work,” Fekete said.