Remembering Stuart Bondurant, Dean Emeritus of the UNC School of Medicine

This past weekend, the UNC School of Medicine lost one of its great leaders, Stuart Bondurant, MD, who passed away at the age of 88. He served as dean for 15 years and interim dean for two more years.

Remembering Stuart Bondurant, Dean Emeritus of the UNC School of Medicine click to enlarge Stuart Bondurant, MD

May 29, 2018

Stuart Bondurant, MD, dean emeritus of the UNC School of Medicine, passed away May 26. He was 88.

A lifelong leader in the health care field, Dr. Bondurant transformed medical education at the UNC School of Medicine during his long tenure as dean, while working on health improvements for all North Carolinians, especially in infant mortality. During his long career, Dr. Bondurant distinguished himself as both a researcher and administrator, serving in leadership roles on several national professional organizations and earning numerous awards.

“Dr. Bondurant was a giant in the world of medicine and a great friend and mentor to many of us,” said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, dean of the UNC School of Medicine. “We all share our condolences with the Bondurant family.”

An obituary of Dr. Bondurant can be read here. Following a private service, the family will receive friends and colleagues on Saturday June 2 from 4 pm to 6 pm at the DuBose House at The Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill. 

Dr. Bondurant was born in Winston-Salem in 1929 and attended UNC as an undergraduate, earning his BS in 1949. He received his MD from Duke University Medical School in 1953, and stayed in Durham for a portion of his postgraduate training, completing an internship and residency in the department of medicine at Duke Hospital.

Dr. Bondurant joined the United States Air Force in 1956 and was assigned to the Aerospace Medical Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he studied the effects of gravity on subjects in the human centrifuge.

After finishing his military service, Dr. Bondurant committed to a career in academic medicine, accepting a cardiology fellowship at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

When he completed the fellowship, Dr. Bondurant joined the faculty of the School of Medicine at the University of Indiana at Indianapolis in 1959 as an assistant professor, eventually rising to the rank of full professor. While at Indiana University, he also served as associate director of the school’s Cardiovascular Research Center.

From 1966 to 1967, Dr. Bondurant served as chief of the medical branch of the National Institutes of Health’s Artificial Heart-Myocardial Infarction Program before joining the faculty of the Albany Medical College in Albany, New York, serving as professor and chair of the department of medicine. In 1974, Dr. Bondurant became dean of the Albany Medical College and president of its Medical Center, a position he held until accepting the deanship of the School of Medicine at UNC in 1979.

At UNC, Dr. Bondurant was a champion for students and undertook several curriculum improvements to ensure the continued excellence of medical education at UNC. The appointment of a faculty curriculum review committee and the establishment of a Student Research and Academic Enrichment Program were among the contributions to medical education made during his tenure.

The School of Medicine expanded greatly under Dr. Bondurant, adding five new departments: Biomedical Engineering, Emergency Medicine, Nutrition, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Radiation Oncology. In addition to these new departments, the school of medicine also added a number of specialized programs and centers, including the Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center, the Program on Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, the Gene Therapy Center, and the Ambulatory Care Center.

While developing resources of the School of Medicine, Dr. Bondurant also nurtured relationships with business leaders and members of the state government. It was through these relationships that he was able to build several initiatives designed to improve statewide health care outcomes.

Dr. Bondurant was a founding member of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and served as vice chair of its board of directors from 1984 until 2005. Additionally, he was instrumental in the formation of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and served as chair of its board of directors from 1988 to 1992.

Improving North Carolina’s infant mortality rates was a particular focus of Bondurant’s community outreach during his time as dean. He served as chair of the Governor’s Commission on the Reduction of Infant Mortality from 1989 until 1996. From 1989 until 2005 he also served as vice chair of the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation.

Dr. Bondurant resigned his position as dean in 1994 but remained on the UNC School of Medicine faculty until 2004. During those years, he served as the director of epidemiologic studies at the New York Academy of Medicine from 1995 until 1996, and he served as interim dean of the UNC School of Medicine from 1996 to 1997.

In 2004, Dr. Bondurant accepted a position with Georgetown University, serving as interim dean and executive vice president of the Georgetown University Medical Center until 2007. Dr. Bondurant also served as director of Furiex Pharmaceuticals and as chief financial officer of Directo, Inc., a payroll services company based in Georgia.

Selected awards and honors:

  • Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Duke University School of Medicine (1974)
  • Elected to the Institute of Medicine (1979)
  • Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Indiana University (1980)
  • President of the American College of Physicians (1980)
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1982)
  • Honorary induction into UNC’s Order of the Golden Fleece (1986)
  • Interim president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (1992)
  • The UNC General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal (1997)
  • Thomas Jefferson Award  (1998)
  • David P. Rall Award from the Institute of Medicine of the Nation Academy of Sciences (2000)
  • Honorary Doctor of Science from Georgetown University (2007)
  • UNC General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award (2013)
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