Edward Joseph Stemmler, Robert G. Dunlop Professor of Medicine and former Executive Vice President and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, died on January 3, 2023. He was 93 years old.
Born in Philadelphia, Dr. Stemmler graduated from La Salle College in 1950, then served as a sergeant first class in the 401st Chemical Service Intelligence Detachment in Korea. He returned from military service in 1953 and worked with his father for three years at an auto parts store. In 1956, he entered the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He graduated in 1960 and completed an internship and residency in medicine and a fellowship in cardiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, then an NIH postdoctoral fellowship in pulmonary physiology in the department of physiology at Penn. Penn brought him onto the faculty in 1964 as an instructor of medicine; he advanced to the rank of professor in 1974. In 1981, he was named the first holder of the Robert G. Dunlop Chair in Medicine.
During an illustrious career at Penn, Dr. Stemmler took on many administrative responsibilities. He served for two years as head of the HUP’s outpatient medical department and for six years as chief of medicine for the University Medical Service at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia, which service he established in 1966. He served as associate dean of the HUP in 1973 and associate dean for student affairs at Penn’s School of Medicine from 1973-75. In 1974, the school appointed him interim dean, and he became dean proper a year later (Almanac January 14, 1975). During his tenure as dean, Dr. Stemmler led the establishment of the University of Pennsylvania clinical practices and clinical-educator faculty trail. He led the development of academic and institutional planning systems that helped the School of Medicine thrive. He championed biomedical research, which grew in scope during his tenure, and supported the construction and modernization of academic, research, and clinical facilities for the school.
The Doctor. Stemmler served as dean until 1987, when he resigned to assume the role of executive vice president, charged with creating a new entity, the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (Almanac September 8, 1987). “I believe that the School of Medicine requires personal attention from the individual who fills the role of dean,” said Dr. Stemmler. “After serving in this capacity for so many years, I firmly believe that a strong dean, free from other responsibilities, is essential to the future growth and vitality of our great institution.” He served as head of the center until 1989, when he was named dean emeritus. He retired from Penn in 1990, taking the position of Executive Vice President of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington, DC. At the AAMC, he chaired the assembly and earned a Distinguished Service Membership. He retired from the AAMC in 1994.
The Doctor. Stemmler was involved in extensive professional and community activities. He served as a member of the national advisory committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. He was chairman of the board of the National Board of Medical Examiners, where he was named a Distinguished Service Member. The Doctor. Stemmler has also served on the boards of the Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Pharmaceutical Company, the Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust, the SAW Community Foundation, Ursinus College (where he was also a trustee), the University of California Medical Center, Davis, and the University of California Medical Center. University of Virginia. He has served as Treasurer Emeritus of the American College of Physicians, Fellow of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science, and Past President and Fellow of the American Clinical and Climatological Association. He has received honorary degrees from Ursinus College, La Salle University, Rush University, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, Medical College of Pennsylvania, State University of New York at Syracuse, and Georgetown University. A painting by Dr. Stemmler hangs on the ground floor of its namesake Stemmler Hall in Penn.
doctor Stemmler and his wife Joan loved nature, dancing, music, good food and wine. They consistently completed the New York Times crossword and enjoyed retirement in the Virginia woods where Mr. Stemmler cooked and fly-fished. “An important aspect of Ed’s personality was his ability to make others feel valued, regardless of their status,” his family wrote in an online tribute. “Ed’s greetings, chats and connections with clerks and colleagues characterized his kind and welcoming approach to life. He was always willing to advise and support those in need who were referred by the family, who would visit him when a friend’s mother’s hairdresser’s boyfriend’s grandmother had questions about her surgery, and he reached out to listen and lend a hand. . ”
A private memorial service was held at Kendal in Longwood. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dr. Joan K. Stemmler; their five children, Beth (Clark Porter), Peggy (Patrick Liu, deceased), Ed, Cathy and Joan; and his five grandchildren, Jasper Liu, Daniel Porter, Benjamin Liu, Matthew Porter and Joshua Taibbi.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Kendal Resident or Employee Assistance Fund or the Joan K. Stemmler and Edward J. Stemmler Scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania Stemmler Scholarship Fund. For the latter, checks can be issued to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania; include “in memory of Edward J. Stemmler” on the line of the memo. Please send to: Laura Weber, Penn Arts and Sciences Advancement, 3600 Market Street, Suite 300, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104.
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