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MU School of Medicine pioneer Hugh Stephenson served in many roles

Thursday, July 26, 2012 | 5:41 p.m. CDT; updated 10:39 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 26, 2012

COLUMBIA — Hugh Stephenson, a former MU administrator and surgery chairman of the MU School of Medicine, died Thursday morning.

Stephenson, instrumental in converting the two-year medical program into a four-year one, died at the age of 90 in his summer home in Delaware, friend and family attorney Dave Knight said.

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Born June 1, 1922, Stephenson lived more than nine decades in Columbia. He was a highly respected person, Knight said.

Stephenson attended Hickman High School and graduated in 1943 with two bachelor's degrees from MU. He joined the Zeta Phi chapter of Beta Theta Pi while in college, and remained involved with the fraternity throughout the rest of his life, Stephenson's daughter, Ann Cameron, said in an email.

Stephenson remained connected to the university after graduation. He became a member of the faculty in 1953 and was chairman of the department of surgery from 1956 to 1960, according to a document from Beta Theta Pi's website. He was later named chief of general surgery (1976-87), chief of staff (1982-94), interim dean (1988-89) and associate dean (1989-92) of the School of Medicine. He became the president of the UM System Board of Curators in 1996.

Stephenson lobbied in Jefferson City to extend the medical program at MU, helping secure $13 million in state money to launch the new four-year medical degree, according to a document by the Office of Communications of the School of Medicine.

In 2003, the medical school’s surgery department was renamed in his honor, according to the School of Medicine document.

"I speak for the entire MU family when I say how very saddened we are to learn of the passing of one of the true giants in the history of the University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics and the School of Medicine," MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said in a statement. "His interests were varied, his skills were legendary and his legacy will live on."

Services for Stephenson are scheduled for 11 a.m. Aug. 11 at First Baptist Church in Columbia.

Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg.


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