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Memoir

James Robert Willson
Regents' Proceedings 772

James Robert Willson, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and Retirement Bates Professor of Diseases of Women and Children, will retire from active faculty status on July 1, 1983, after many years of distinguished service as a clinician and teacher at The University of Michigan Medical Center.

A native of Flint, Michigan, Dr. Willson entered The University of Michigan Medical School in 1933, after completing two years of undergraduate study at Flint Junior College. He received his medical degree in 1937, and completed his internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at The University of Michigan. He received his Master of Science degree from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In 1942, Dr. Willson joined the staff of the Chicago Lying-In Hospital were he held the rank of assistant professor. In 1946, he was chosen professor and chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a post he held until 1963.

In 1964, Dr. Willson joined the faculty of The Univeristy of Michigan as Bates Professor and chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a post he held until 1978, at which time he relinquished the chairmanship but remained as a professor. During his years at The University of Michigan, Dr. Willson was responsible for establishing the department as one of the leading departments of obstetrics and gynecology in the United States. He recruited and trained many young physicians who went on to achieve national reputations as academic physicians and as researchers. Dr. Willson was highly visible in national and international organizations: examiner and director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, member of the Royal Society of Medicine, president of the American Gynecological Society, and founding member of the Society for Gynecologic Investigations.

Dr. Willson's reputation as a superb teacher was enhanced by the publication of a textbook which has become one of the "classics" in his field: Willson's Obstetrics and Gynecology, a book which has now gone through seven editions. His clinical research in the area of operative obstetrics also led to the publication of his Atlas of Obstetric Technique and Management of Obstetric Difficulties. In addition, he has published over 70 articles in scientific journals; a perusal of the titles of the articles indicate Dr. Willson's broad-ranging interests and knowledge, as well as his concern for the difficult philosophic questions relating to medical education and the changing role of the physician in society.

A measure of Dr. Willson's dedication to medicine and to academics is the fact that upon his retirement from The University of Michigan, at an age when most men choose a slower pace of life, he has joined the faculty of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a part-time faculty member.

The Regents now salute this distinguished health educator for his dedicated service by naming him Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Bates Professor Emeritus of Diseases of Women and Children.