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Dear Colleagues,

As we begin this New Year, we are sad to report a tremendous loss for our UNC School of Medicine community. Dr. Robert Bashford, a beloved teacher, and mentor to so many has passed away.

Dr. Bashford’s impact on our School and our state is difficult to quantify. He served as Associate Dean for Admissions for many years, presiding over the admission of nearly 1,500 students dedicated – as he put it—to “the genuine journey for a life of science and service.”

In 2013, he was instrumental in the development of the Kenan Rural Scholars program, building a pipeline of skilled, dedicated physicians, committed to service in our state’s rural, urban, and underserved areas. As a native North Carolinian, this mission was personal. He loved our state and he cared deeply for each student he brought into the Kenan Scholars program – students with what he would call “a rural heart.”

This work was expanded in his most recent role as leader of the Office of Rural Initiatives where he oversaw rural health pipeline programs for medical students, an interprofessional training program for students from across UNC’s health affairs schools, as well as outreach to undergraduates, high school students, and others across the state.

He will be remembered for the genuine joy, optimism, and enthusiasm he brought to his work, feelings you couldn’t help but share after just a few minutes around him.

While he will be deeply missed, his impact will continue to be felt as the students he recruited, trained, and mentored care for people all across North Carolina.

Details on a celebration of Dr. Bashford’s life and the impact he has made will be shared in the days and weeks ahead.


Dr. Wesley Burks

Dr. Cristy Page