Robert J. Glaser, emeritus trustee and former Washington University School of Medicine faculty member, died Thursday, June 7, 2012, at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 93.
An outstanding medical leader, Glaser had served on the Board of Trustees since 1979. He chaired the board’s Educational Policy Committee for 16 years and also served on the Research-Graduate Affairs Committee. In 1998, he received the Eliot Society “Search” Award in recognition for his outstanding contributions to the University. He also served as inaugural chairman of the School of Medicine’s National Council for 10 years.
Throughout a career that spanned more than half a century, Glaser worked to improve medical education and support to health-related research. As a top administrator at medical schools at Washington University, Colorado and Stanford, and as a faculty member at Harvard, he shaped the careers of many hundreds of physicians.
He earned bachelor’s and medical degrees from Harvard University, in 1940 and 1943, respectively. He joined the Washington University School of Medicine faculty in 1949 and became dean at the University of Colorado Medical School in 1957. In 1963, he headed a program at Harvard to join together six of its teaching hospitals. In 1965, he became vice-president for medical affairs, dean and professor of medicine at Stanford University and served briefly as Stanford’s acting president in 1968.
While at Stanford, he was a founding member of the Institutes of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the first chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He was chairman of the National Academy of Sciences’ 1975 Committee on a Study of National Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Personnel. In 1970 he became vice-president of the Commonwealth Fund. He headed the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation from 1972-1983. From 1984-1997 he was director of medical science and a member of the board of trustees of the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, where he oversaw a unique program devoted to critical initiatives at America’s best schools of medicine.
Over many years, both Glaser and his late wife, Helen Glaser, MD, had a tremendous influence on the best and brightest of medical graduates: he as president of the medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha, and she as longtime managing editor of its journal.
Among his many professional honors is the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education. In 1986, the Society of General Internal Medicine recognized Bob with an award established in his name and given annually to an outstanding physician in the field.
Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said he first met Glaser during the time he was being considered for the position of Chancellor.
“He was an excellent interviewer, but at the same time, he made the case that Washington University would be a great place for me if I could win the offer,” Wrighton says. “He was a major factor in my decision to come. During my tenure as Chancellor he was a terrific trustee: wise, hardworking, loyal and generous.”
Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, holds the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professorship that Glaser provided to support a leader in medicine.
Glaser is survived by his children Sally, Joseph and Robert Jr., and his companion, Jean Parmelee.
Condolences may be sent to his daughter, Dr. Sally Glaser, at 868 Boyce Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301.