March 15, 2013

Former Dean Will Deal passes away at 76

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Will Deal, M.D., a former senior vice president of Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, passed away suddenly today, March 15, 2013. He was 76.

Will-Deal-2013Deal served as senior vice president of Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine from October 1997 until October 2004, when he was named senior vice president and dean emeritus. He also served as interim director and CEO of the UAB Health System from December 1998 until October 2000.

“I was very saddened to hear of the death of Will Deal,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D., former senior vice president of Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine. “Dr. Deal recruited me, and many other physicians, to UAB based on a vision of growth and prosperity, and he led the school through a period of significant achievements.  Academic medicine has suffered a great loss with the passing of Dr. Will Deal.  We will miss him greatly.”

Under Deal’s leadership, UAB’s international reputation in medical education, medical research and patient care grew. Funding from the National Institutes of Health topped $200 million and UAB’s research footprint grew with the construction of the Hugh Kaul Human Genetics Building and the Biomedical Research Building II. The position of dean was also elevated to include the title of senior vice president for Medicine at UAB.

“It is an unfortunate irony to lose one of medical education’s leaders on Match Day, the most exciting day of a medical student’s career,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., interim senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine, referring to the day when students learn where they will continue their medical training as residents. “However, Dr. Deal would be proud to know that so many of our students, more than 42 percent, are going into primary care fields, a specialty he was devoted to.”

“Will Deal was very well regarded dean who contributed significantly to the development of the medical center during his tenure,” said Kirby Bland, M.D., chair of the department of Surgery who also was recruited to UAB by Deal. “He was strongly supportive of his faculty and had a major passion for patient care.”

Deal served on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Advisory Committee and was a member of the Alabama Rural Health Association, the National Rural Health Association and many other distinguished professional organizations. He chaired or was a member of many committees of the American Medical Association.

Deal grew up in Forest City, N.C., and was a Morehead Scholar at UNC, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1958 and a medical degree in 1963. He spent 25 years at the University of Florida, starting as an intern and rising through the ranks to become dean and vice president for Health Affairs in 1978. He later served as president of the Maine Medical Center and Foundation from 1988 until 1990 and joined UAB as associate dean and professor of Medicine in 1991. He was named senior associate dean in 1996 and interim dean in 1997 before taking on the role of permanent dean on Oct. 31, 1997.

Deal is survived by his wife, April, and daughters Kathleen Deal and Kimberly Wolpert, son-in-law Jim Wolpert, grandsons Matthew, Christopher and Andrew.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, at Independent Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Independent Presbyterian Church, University of North Carolina Medical School, UAB or the charity of your choice.