George F. Sheldon, MD, Distinguished Visiting Professor

George F. Sheldon, MD, FACS, FRCS Edin (Hon), FRCS Eng (Hon)

(20 December 1934–16 June 2013)

In 1984, Dr. Sheldon joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Chairman of the Department of Surgery and became the Zack D. Owens Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Social Medicine. During his seventeen years as Chair, he made many changes to the department that resulted in substantial program growth and expansion of department services. He pushed for extensive recruitment of young surgeons, and was particularly pro-active in the recruitment of minority and female surgeons.

Dr. Sheldon was one of fewer than twenty surgeons in the past one hundred years to be president of all of the major surgical organizations, including President of the American College of Surgeons, President of the American Surgical Association, President of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, and Chair of the American Board of Surgery. He was a Charter Member of the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME) when it was founded in 1985 under the Department of Health and Human Services, and was a lifelong champion of Graduate Medical Education.

He held Honorary Fellowships in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, the European Surgical Association, the British Columbia Surgical Association, the Colombian Surgical Association, and the Society of Black Academic Surgeons. He has received numerous professional awards, including the Kansas University School of Medicine Distinguished Alumna Award, the University of North Carolina Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Arts and Sciences of The University of Kansas, and was named as the Distinguished Service Member by the Association of American Medical Colleges. In 2011, he was presented with the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American College of Surgeons, an honor that has only been bestowed once previously.

At the University of North Carolina, Dr. Sheldon was a member of the Faculty Council and the Faculty Assembly of the University of North Carolina system. He was Director of the American College of Surgeons Health Policy Research Institute and Senior Research Fellow of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. His recent interests and expertise included the impact of health care reform on physician shortages and he testified before Congress on that subject. He was Editor-in-Chief of, the web portal of the American College of Surgeons. He authored over 400 articles and book chapters.

The George F. Sheldon, MD Distinguished Professorship was established in 2018 and recognizes the accomplishments of the late Dr. George Sheldon, honors his legacy of leadership at UNC, and celebrates the impact he had in the lives of others. The professorship was established with generous gifts from Dr. Sheldon’s family, colleagues, and friends to help recruit and retain world-class surgeon leaders and support advancement in the UNC Department of Surgery for generations to come.