Dr. Donald E. Wilson, first African-American Dean of the School of Medicine

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Photograph of Dr. Donald E. Wilson.

Dr. Donald E. Wilson, Dean of School of Medicine, 1991-2006 from Centuries of Leadership: Deans of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

In 1991, the University of Maryland School of Medicine named Dr. Donald E. Wilson the thirtieth dean of the school.  At this time, Dr. Wilson was the first and only African-American dean at a traditionally white medical school.

Dr. Wilson earned his Bachelor’s Degree in 1954 from Harvard College (now University) and graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1962.  He was a first-generation college graduate.  Prior to coming to UMB, Dr. Wilson became the youngest person to achieve full professor status at the University of Illinois Medical School, and then served as physician at University Hospital and Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn New York, while serving as chair of Medicine at SUNY Health Science Center. 

After arriving at UMB, Dr. Wilson faced many challenges, the most pressing was state-mandated budget cuts; in 1992 Maryland state funding for the school was down to ten percent.  Yet, Dr. Wilson managed to increase staff,

Table showing faculty statistics from 1991 to 2005.  Toatl full time faculty in 1991 was 832 and grew to 1,184 by 2005.  Women faculty in 1991 was 250 and grew to 413 by 2005.  Underrepresented minorities numbered 31 in 1991 and grew to 88 by 2005.

Increase in full-time faculty members during Dr. Wilson’s tenure. Shows strong growth of women and minority faculty during that time as well.

faculty, and enrollment numbers during his tenure.  Dr. Wilson also increased the number of woman faculty in the school of medicine by 75 percent and tripled the number of minority faculty members.  He was an advocate for diversity in health care providers and research as well as sought to better reach underserved populations.  In 2004, he established the Center for Health Disparities.

In addition to diversity concerns, Dr. Wilson introduced curriculum changes, introducing more practical, hands-on instruction with less emphasis on theory and book instruction.  He wanted his faculty to work more closely with the students.  He also grew research funding for the school from $77 million to $341 million, leading the school to the upper-levels of American medical intuitions. He also oversaw the construction of two new medical buildings: Health Sciences Facility I and II. 

In addition to serving as Dean, Dr. Wilson held several leadership positions in medical and academic organizations including, chairing the Association of American Medical Colleges in 2004, chairing the Maryland Health Care Commission from 1994 to 2004, and founding the Association for Academic Minority Physicians.  Dr. Wilson retired in 2006, citing health concerns from kidney disease as well as the desire to spend more time with family.

 

References:

Centuries of Leadership: Deans of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. (2006) Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10713/4797

Hill, Michael. (Aug. 11, 1992) “Dean’s Vision for UMAB medical school stays focused despite year of budget woes.” The Sun. Retrieved from Wilson, Donald E. Vertical File Historical Collections, Health Sciences and Human Services Library.

Meisol, Patricia. (1991) “UM medical school gets reform-minded new dean.” Retrieved from Wilson, Donald E. Vertical File Historical Collections, Health Sciences and Human Services Library.

Ramsay, David J. (2005) “University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean Donald Wilson Set to Retire in 2006 After 15 Years of Leadership.” Retrieved from Wilson, Donald E. Vertical File Historical Collections, Health Sciences and Human Services Library.

Wilson, Donald E. (2006) University of Maryland School of Medicine State of the School Address, 2006. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10713/4302

 

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