Published July 16, 2012
Fitzhugh Carter Pannill Jr., MD, former UB vice president for health affairs, acting dean and professor of medicine, died June 30 in New Braunfels, Texas, after a brief illness. He was 91.
Pannill was recruited to UB in 1973, serving as vice president for health affairs and, for the first two years of his tenure, the medical school’s acting dean.
Among other accomplishments, Pannill is credited with steadying the medical school’s course a little more than a decade after the university merged with the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Under his leadership, the medical school’s longest-serving dean, John Naughton, MD, was recruited to UB.
“During his tenure as vice president, Carter led efforts to integrate the educational programs of the various health science schools,” recalls James P. Nolan, MD, a longtime faculty member and former chair of the Department of Medicine.
“That direction, new at the time, is now accepted in a team approach to the care of patients.”
In the 1980s, as his administrative career began to come to a close, Pannill joined the UB Department of Medicine, serving as an internist and preceptor at Erie County Medical Center.
“My strongest recollection of Carter is the remarkable role model he became to students and residents in the department after leaving his administrative duties to return to his first love as a practicing physician,” Nolan says.
“His caring and empathetic approach was admired by all his colleagues and staff in our department.”
After retiring from UB in 1990, Pannill continued teaching at Maine Medical Center in Portland and University of Vermont.
Prior to his UB career, Pannill served as founding dean of the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio, which is now part of the UT Health Science Center.
Starting in 1965 with few resources and an empty cow pasture, he recruited departmental chairs, faculty, students and staff to establish what came to be recognized as a world-class medical institution with innovative programs in medicine, physiology, surgery and community outreach, among other centers of excellence.
During this time, he continued to teach medical students and residents.
A 1945 graduate of Yale University School of Medicine, Pannill trained in internal medicine in Houston and began his career in academic medicine in 1951 at Baylor University Medical College.
He subsequently spent six years in private practice before re-entering academic medicine in 1960, holding positions in Philadelphia and Dallas.
A Master and Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Pannill received numerous awards and honors.
According to his family, he was proudest of receiving the White Coat Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching at UB and for being recognized by the San Antonio medical students as “the foundation of their medical careers.”
His family and colleagues established the F. Carter Pannill Award in his honor, given annually to a junior faculty member in the UB Department of Medicine who demonstrates the exemplary bedside teaching that Pannill modeled.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, the former Mildred Treat; a son, Fitzhugh Carter III, MD; two daughters, Elizabeth, and Mary Gilroy; a sister, Lelia Birrell; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.