School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Past Deans

2009 - 2014  Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P. H., M.B.A.

Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., served as the 15th dean of the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Parisi, an obstetrician/gynecologist, is a national leader in medical education and in the evaluation and certification of physicians. She helped launch and served as co-principal investigator for a federal grant to establish an Area Health Education Center program in Michigan. She served from 2010 to 2012 as co-chair of the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, which accredits medical schools in the United States and Canada, and as secretary-treasurer of the American Board of Medical Specialties from 2009 to 2012. She has served as chair of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Crain’s Detroit Business’ named Dr. Parisi one of its 2010 Women to Watch for her leadership in strengthening the School of Medicine’s relationships with its clinical partners. Dr. Parisi previously was dean of medicine, chief academic officer and vice president for academic program administration at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. During her tenure there she also held the Thomas N. and Gleaves James Distinguished Chair, was advisor to the president, and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. She was the first woman medical school dean in Texas. She was elected president of the Society for Perinatal Obstetricians (now the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine) in 1995 after serving six years on its board of directors. She was director of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a director of the board from 1998 to 2008.

2005 - 2009  Robert M. Mentzer Jr., M.D.

Robert M. Mentzer Jr., M.D., was appointed 14th of the Wayne State University School of Medicine in November 2005. A notable cardiothoracic surgeon, he came to the School of Medicine from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, where he served as the Frank C. Spencer Professor and Chairman of Surgery, director of the University of Kentucky Hospital Transplant Center, and president and chair of the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation (faculty practice group for the University of Kentucky) since 1997.From 1991 to 1997, Dr. Mentzer was chair of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and professor of Surgery and Physiology at the University of Wisconsin, where he also served as co-director of the Cardiovascular Research Center. A national advocate for organ donation, Dr. Mentzer is an accomplished heart transplant surgeon. He has been a reviewer for a wide array of peer-reviewed basic science and clinical journals and has served on numerous study sections and special emphasis panels for the National Institutes of Health. His research has been continuously funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health for 21 years

1999-2004  John D. Crissman, M.D.

Before joining the Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1990 as Chair of Pathology and Specialist-in-Chief, Pathology and Laboratory Services, Dr. Crissman held the position of vice chair of Pathology at the Henry Ford Health System. Appointed dean of the School of Medicine in 1999, he led a number of business innovations for the university, including negotiation of a landmark contract with the school’s primary hospital system affiliate for reimbursement for teaching, clinical services, medical administration and program support services. Through the establishment of the Wayne State University Physician Group, Dr. Crissman consolidated 19 independent faculty physician group practice plans into a single organizational entity. To extend the school’s commitment to its communities, Dr. Crissman obtained a contract from Wayne County to improve the delivery of mental health services within southeastern Michigan and implemented a formal affiliation for education and research functions between Wayne State University and the Henry Ford Health System. He was also instrumental in advocating bringing to Wayne State University the largest intramural branch of the National Institutes of Health outside of Bethesda, Md., culminating in a 10-year contract for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Perinatology Research Branch. He implemented an advanced imaging center to support faculty in basic and translational research programs.

1989-1999  Robert J. Sokol, M.D.
Robert J. Sokol
Dr. Sokol joined the university in 1983 as Chair of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Obstetrician and Gynecologist-in-Chief at the Detroit Medical Center after faculty appointments at Washington University School of Medicine, University of Rochester and Case Western Reserve. During his tenure, the School of Medicine progressed to 22nd nationally from 70th in National Science Foundation research expenditures ranking. Dr. Sokol focused on providing exemplary educational opportunities for students, including the establishment of a formal consortium of area hospitals and active service on numerous doctoral committees, continued to see patients and was frequently on lists of “Best Doctors.” He sustained vigorous research programs on the adverse consequences of prenatal alcohol and drug exposure and other perinatal risks through the National Institutes of Health-funded WSU Fetal Alcohol Research Center from 1986 to 1997. Dr. Sokol wrote 300 reference papers, was the founding Chair of the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine, also receiving its Lifetime Achievement Award. He was president of the Central Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and chaired the Liaison Committee for Obstetrics and Gynecology. While serving as dean, Dr. Sokol was active on numerous national and international committees and panels in the areas of medical education, obstetrics and gynecology, recruitment and retention of women in academic medical centers, AIDS, alcohol abuse in pregnancy and substance abuse.

1981-1988  Henry L. Nadler, M.D.
Henry L. Nadler
Dr. Nadler assumed the deanship at the School of Medicine after coming from Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he served as chief of staff and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Northwestern University. In 1967, at the Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Dr. Nadler developed the method of growing fetal cells in culture and analyzing them to determine chromosomal defects such as Down syndrome. As Wayne State School of Medicine dean, Dr. Nadler expanded genetic research programs while continuing to see patients and counsel families in the Genetics Clinic, in addition to his administrative responsibilities and advancement of the School of Medicine’s national research standing. Dr. Nadler was the 1987 recipient of the Meyer O. Cantor Award from the International College of Surgeons for Distinguished Service to International Medicine and Humanity.

1971-1980  Robert D. Coye, M.D.
Robert D. Coye
After serving as professor, assistant and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, Dr. Coye joined the Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1971 to serve as the first dean for the school’s new campus at the Detroit Medical Center. His tenure included substantial growth in the size of the School of Medicine’s student body, placing it among the largest four medical colleges in the nation, and the opening of new facilities, including the Gordon H. Scott Hall of Basic Medical Sciences, the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, the Health Care Institute, and the Radiology Oncology Center.

1963-1970  Ernest D. Gardner, M.D.
Ernest D. Gardner
Dr. Gardner joined the medical school, then the College of Medicine, as an assistant professor of Anatomy in May 1945. He was promoted to professor and Chair of Anatomy in July 1950, and to associate dean in April 1961. He also served as consulting neuroanatomist at Detroit Receiving Hospital. Before joining the university, Dr. Gardner held positions at the University of Washington, Stanford University, Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Southern California. Dr. Gardner is credited with the initial impetus for the University Clinics and was known for his contributions to medical education. He was the author of several books, including “Fundamentals of Neurology” and a textbook, “Anatomy,” co-authored with D.J. Gray and R. O’Rahilly, in addition to numerous scientific articles. Dr. Gardner served on several national boards and commissions focused on medical practice and medical education in the United States, including the United States Public Health Service’s Division of Physician Manpower and the National Institutes of Health’s Neurology Study Section.

1948-1963 Gordon H. Scott, Ph.D.
Gordon H. Scott
Dr. Scott joined Wayne University in 1946 as Chair of the Department of Anatomy following faculty positions at Loyola University, the Rockefeller Institute, Washington University and the University of Southern California. Dr. Scott assumed the deanship in 1950 during construction of the medical school building at Rivard and Chrysler, initiating the expansion of the College of Medicine’s student body from 250 to more than 1,700 at his retirement. Recognizing Dr. Scott as a pioneer in medical education and visionary of the master plan leading to the Detroit Medical Center complex, the Faculty Senate of the School of Medicine recommended in 1970 that the new Basic Medical Science Instructional Facility be named in his honor, for his “untiring leadership and long service to the University and the Detroit Community.” Dr. Scott was a former president of the American Association of Anatomists, served as vice president of the American Association of Medical Colleges in 1957 and was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1958, Dr. Scott received the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Regents Award as the “builder and user of the nation’s first operating electronic emission microscope, avid researcher in localizing mineral constituents within the cell; (and) stimulator of young men to develop their full professional capabilities.”


1945 – 1948         Hardy A. Kemp, M.D., Dean, Wayne University College of Medicine
1939 – 1945         Edgar H. Norris, M.D.,  Dean, Wayne University College of Medicine
1936 – 1939         Raymond B. Allen, M.D.,  Dean, Wayne University College of Medicine
1935 – 1936         William J. Stapleton, Jr. , M.D.,  Acting Dean, Wayne University College of Medicine
1918 – 1935         Walter H. MacCraken, M.D., Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery
1913 – 1917         Burt R. Shurly, M.D., Dean, Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery
1877 – 1913         Theodore A. McGraw, M.D., President, Detroit College of Medicine
1868 – 1877         Edward W. Jenks, M.D.,  President,  Detroit Medical College