Former medical school dean remembered for devotion to students, patients

Robert Keimowitz always prioritized his students and made time for patients under any circumstance, his former colleagues and family said.

Keimowitz, an emeritus professor and former dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, died last month at age 76, according to a medical school release.

He first joined SMHS in 1970 and served as assistant dean of admissions and then as dean of academic affairs. He became the school’s dean in 1989 and spearheaded an overhaul of the admissions process and curriculum in 1993.

Keimowitz was also instrumental in developing the school’s practice of medicine program, which was designed to let students work with patients earlier on in their education, according to the medical school’s website.

His daughter, Jessica Keimowitz, said he loved working at SMHS because he could continue studying the scientific side of medicine while working with people, from students to patients to co-workers.

“I think he loved both the science and the ever-evolving nature of medicine, as well as the human interaction,” Keimowitz said.

Keimowitz said her father prioritized access to education during his time as dean by funding a need-based scholarship for the school, which will continue in his memory.

She said he also promoted increasing diversity in the SMHS student population, “both in terms of gender and sexual orientation as well as race and ethnicity.”

She added that students were touched by his devotion to them.

“He would always take the time to listen to students, to understand their concerns, and to help them along the path of becoming a physician,” she said.

Robert Keimowitz was born and raised in upstate New York, earning his bachelor’s, master’s and medical degrees from the University of Vermont and completing his residency at John Hopkins University.

April Barbour, a colleague in SMHS, said Robert Keimowitz most loved working with the same patients consistently over time.

“He enjoyed getting to know his patients and taking care of them over the course of several years. He always would take whatever time they needed in the clinic – he wouldn’t rush anyone out the door,” Barbour said.

She added that he worked to really get to know patients beyond understanding their medical needs.

“His patients also really admired and respected him as a physician and a person,” Barbour said.

Robert Keimowitz is survived by his wife, Hazel, two daughters and four grandchildren.

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