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When I joined the College of Medicine faculty, I became interested in the photographs of previous deans of the college displayed on a conference room wall. There was no information, however, about any of the deans and I was curious about their careers and accomplishments. Much later I began this project to research each of them, find a photo from the time they were dean, write a concise biography, and add a photo representative of the college during that era. What I found was a distinguished group of scholars, many of whom, even in the early years, were highly regarded nationally and internationally for research and leadership.

Throughout the history of the College of Medicine, the deans presided over a rapidly changing institution. At the beginning (1881) deans of the Omaha Medical College (then called president of the faculty) presided over a proprietary college with 35 medical students and 15 faculty members. By 1902, when the college affiliated with the University of Nebraska, there were 152 medical students and 52 faculty. When the college moved to its current location on 42nd Street and the University of Nebraska Hospital was built, the deans’ responsibilities expanded to include running the hospital and, soon thereafter, a nursing school. The college continued to grow so that by 1950 there were 315 medical students, 165 faculty, 65 residents and interns and a college of allied health. In 1968, the University of Nebraska Medical Center was created and the dean answered to the chancellor of the medical center. Research, education, and clinical activities increased and by today (2015) the College of Medicine has 502 medical students, 794 faculty and over 500 residents. The dean’s job has changed but the college continues to find highly talented, visionary, and accomplished leaders to fill the role.

Robert Wigton M.D., M.S.
Professor of Internal Medicine
Assistant Dean for Special Projects

Publication Date



University of Nebraska Medical Center




Robert R. Livingston, Jacob C. Denise, Donald Macrae, Harold G. Gifford, Sr., August Frederick Jonas, Henry Baldwin Ward, Robert H. Wolcott, Willson O. Bridges, Irving S. Cutter, J. Jay Keegan, C.W.M. Poynter, Harold C. Lueth, J. Perry Tollman, Cecil L. Wittson, Robert Kugel, Perry G. Rigby, Alastair Connell, Robert H. Waldman, Harold M. Maurer, James O. Armitage, John L. Gollan


History | Medical Education

130 Years of Leadership: Images of the Deans of the College of Medicine 1881-2010