Establishing the Department

Fifteen years ago, a number of young men joined me in an effort to create a new Department of Surgery in Chapel Hill. Several others joined us later. There was very little to offer these men in terms of facilities, only an idea. They all had extraordinary concern for excellence in academic medicine, and they all had faith in basic ideals. They soon made their own facilities, and their enthusiasm infected us all. Early in this undertaking, I sensed a spirit for achievement developing that promised to make this a unique group. This spirit has been maintained, and such a firm hold does it now have that I doubt if it could be altered easily. To this group of men and to the residents that they have taught, I wish to express my deep admiration and my affection, as well as my confidence in their future. There are few who could have achieved as well as they.

Nathan A. Womack, MD


1952 Faculty

Surgical Housestaff and Faculty, 1952-1953

Surgical education at the University of North Carolina began in 1902, when clinical facilities in Raleigh became available to the existing two-year School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. There was a small clinical faculty, none of whom received a salary from the University. Dr. Augustus Washington Knox was named Chairman and served until 1910. His department was short-lived, as the clinical facilities were closed in 1910 due to lack of funds to implement the recommendations of the Flexner Report.

The Good Health Movement of the 1940s in North Carolina rekindled interest in developing a four-year medical school. Dr. W. Reece Berryhill, Dean of the School of Medicine, sought a chairman for the Department of Surgery who could have the department ready for the instruction of students and the delivery of clinic care by September 1, 1952. In April 1951, he selected Dr. Nathan A. Womack for the task.


Medical campus, circa 1965


Reference: Kagarise, MJ, Thomas, Colin CG. LEGENDS AND LEGACIES - A Look Inside Four Decades of Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Surgery, Chapel Hill, NC. February 1997.