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Hove, Arthur (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 63, Number 8 (Dec. 1961)

Medical School crisis comes to head as Dean Bowers is dismissed,   pp. 18-20


Page 20


the department and the faculty at the
University did not conflict with strong
leadership in the office of the Dean.
   Confronted with this situation, Pres.
 Elvehjem said, ". .. on the basis of all
 the information I have been able to
 gather, it is my judgment that Dr. Bow-
 ers should be relieved of his adminis-
 trative duties as of November 1, 1961.
 This does not involve his professorship
 of medicine-' and I recommend that his
 salary be continued unchanged."
   The President did not make his rec-
 ommendation without regret and a hope
 for the future. "Many hours have been
 spent on this problem during the past
 year," he said, "and I intend to give
 further effort to supporting the mem-
 bers of the faculty who wish to continue
 the development and expansion of the
 program of our Medical School. We are
 interested in a forward-moving pro-
 gram, with emphasis on teaching, re-
 search and service-and in the highest
 possible standards in all of these cate-
 gories. I hope that every member of the
.Medical School faculty will cooperate
in moving in this direction."
T   HEN    THE   FLOOR belonged to
Dean Bowers. He opened by saying
that, "I have hoped that at some appro-
priate time there would be an oppor-
tunity to present to the Regents a
recitation of the goals that were set for
the Medical school and an appraisal of
the present program... Rather than re-
cite a number of generalities, it is best
to look at the record on what has been
accomplished in the years between 1955
and 1961." From that point on, the
Dean went on to recite,.- chapter and
verse, the record of the Medical School's
achievement over the last six years.
Some of the impressive advances have
been: the strengthening of four previ-
ously weak department s-gynecology
and obstetrics, pediatrics, neurology, and
psychiatry; the addition of fifty full
time faculty members; an increase of
33% in the total faculty and an "over-
whelming majority" of that increase
from outside the University; the expan-
sion of research-in 1955, the Medical
School received $920,500 in gifts and
grants for research and research train-
ing; by 1961, that figure had jumped to
$4,220,357. The Dean also cited some
other improvements made during his
administration which have been signifi-
20
cant-the Student Health Service has
been put on a firm basis and student
visits have increased by 25%; a Medical
Alumni Association has been estab-
lished with 1,800 dues paying members;
and nursing programs, intern and resi-
dency programs have been improved;
and the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute
has been revitalized.
  In citing this record, the Dean said,
"I was requested to serve as the dean
who would set the Medical School on a
course toward these goals and take it
there. I can say that I have kept the
bargain," and "I do not believe that I
have lost the support of the faculty."
Then placing the decision before the
Regents, he said, "If, after considera-
tion, you wish to have my resignation
as Dean of the Medical School, you
may have it."
  Following Dean Bowers' statement,
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the Regents moved quickly to a vote. By
an 8 to 1 majority, they voted to relieve
John Bowers of his duties as dean of
the Medical School. The sole negative
vote came from Regent Harold Kon-
nack, Racine, who said that he did not
have sufficient facts on the matter to
make an intelligent judgment.
  Following the vote, Carl E. Steiger,
Oshkosh, president of the Regents,
asked that a letter from the deans of the
University's schools and colleges be read
into the record. Over the objections of
Konnack, Steiger read the letter which
was composed by L & S Dean Mark
Ingraham and originally addressed to
President Elvehjem. In part, the letter
said, "The usefulness of a dean depends
upon the confidence of his faculty and
of the president of the institution. If ei-
ther of these is lost to any substantial
degree the dean's usefulness is seriously
impaired . . . we wish to express our re-
spects for your leadership, our confi-
dence in your administrative judgment,
and our warm esteem for you as a
colleague."
   At their annual meeting on October
 28, the board of directors of the Wis-
 consin Alumni Association adopted a
 resolution extending their "complete
 support and approval to President El-
 vehjem and the Board of Regents for
 their actions in recent developments
 concerning the Medical School of the
 University." The resolution also ac-
 knowledged "the approval extended by
 the deans of the colleges of the Univer-
 sity, and to the faculty and administra-
 tion of the Medical School for
 achievements of recent years which are
 a sound foundation for continuing aca-
 demic greatness."
   After the action by the Regents, the
 storm continued. Editorial opinion in
 the state's papers was still divided in
 much the same manner it had been be-
 fore the action. Also, in protest, two de-
 partment chairmen-Dr. John Flinn,
 director of the Student Health Services
 and Dr. Robert Roessler, chairman of
 the psychiatry department-asked to be
 relieved of their administrative posi-
 tions. On the Monday after the Regent
 action, a five-man screening committee
 was appointed "to advise the President
 on the appointment of an acting dean,"
 of the Medical School.
   The committee moved swiftly and by
October 31 had submitted their unani-
mous recommendation to the President
for approval by the Regents. By a tele-
phone vote, the Regents approved the
appointment of Dr. Philip Pacy Cohen,
chairman of the department of physio-
logical chemistry, to serve as acting dean
of the Medical School, effective Novem-
ber 1. Dr. Cohen, who has been on the
Wisconsin faculty since 1930, is consid-
ered to be one of the outstanding bio-
logical chemists in the nation.
   After the recent moves towards the
stabilization of the operation of the
Medical School, University officials are
now hopeful that the major differences
have been resolved and constructive ef-
forts can be made towards bringing
about the forward-moving era that is the
expressed goal of the Regents and the
Administration. In order for this to
happen, the University will need the un-
derstanding and support of its alumni
and the time to work out a program
which best meets the needs of the Medi-
cal School, its administration, and its
faculty.
Wisconsin Alumnus, December, 1961
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