A Closer Look

Fourteen years of transformation

Vital Signs » Summer 2012

Dean Part's lasting impact on Wright State University

When Howard Part announced last fall that he was stepping down as dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine, it signaled the end of an era.

The face of Howard M. Part, M.D., is a familiar one to countless students, staff, and faculty members at Wright State University and the larger Ohio medical education community. As the longest-serving dean among Ohio’s current medical school deans, his 14-year tenure is longer than most employees at the university, and began before the medical school was known as the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

Part was first exposed to the medical profession at age 10 while accompanying his father on Saturday mornings to his internal medicine and dermatology practice in Harlem, where he saw the difference being a doctor could make to people who needed care the most.

Part carried the influence of his father’s work with him through medical school at The Ohio State University, where he ultimately chose to focus on general internal medicine.

Shortly after completing his residency in internal medicine at Ohio State, Part joined the faculty at Ohio State in the Division of General Internal Medicine. He and his wife, Kristine Kunesh-Part, M.D., an ophthalmologist, moved to Dayton in 1986, where Part entered private practice.

In 1987, Part joined the voluntary faculty at Wright State as an assistant clinical professor where he supervised residents and students at Kettering Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital. He joined the medical school’s fully affiliated faculty in 1988 as an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine.

“As dean, Howard has lifted the Boonshoft School of Medicine to unprecedented levels of performance and recognition. I am fortunate and privileged to have had the opportunity to work closely with one of the finest human beings I have ever known, and to have enjoyed his support, guidance, and friendship over many years.” —Robert Fyffe, Ph.D., WSU Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies

Between 1990 and 1998, Part held a variety of leadership positions at Wright State, including vice chair for medical education and clerkship director, acting chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, and associate dean for faculty and clinical affairs, before serving a year as acting dean of the medical school. In 1999, Part was named dean of Wright State University School of Medicine.

As dean, his care for the academic well being of his medical students was evident to both students and faculty.

“He made an effort to get to know the leadership of each class on a personal level,” said Dean Parmelee, M.D., associate dean for academic affairs at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. “I joined the student leaders, with a few other faculty members, for dinners at the dean’s house a number of times every year. I watched as he spoke with each student on a personal level to understand who they were not only as medical students, but also as individuals. It was clear to the students that he was approachable, and that he wanted to be a part of their medical education.”

To Parmelee, Part’s support was also personal. “I came to Wright State from another institution. I was an outsider, and went through a period of adjustment. He trusted me and wanted to hear my ideas, which is not a quality all deans possess. He consistently encourages innovation and supports change to improve the quality of medical education.”

During Part’s tenure, the school has experienced extraordinary growth

Under Howard Part’s leadership, the Boonshoft School of Medicine:

  • Created a new Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree program, the first program of its kind in southwestern Ohio, and developed three new dual degree programs – the M.D./M.P.H., M.D./ M.B.A., and the M.D./Ph.D.
  • Became a national leader in Team-Based Learning n Created several new graduate medical education programs
  • Created the fifth department of geriatrics in the nation
  • Opened the new Gandhi Medical Education Center in White Hall
  • Created two University System of Ohio Centers of Excellence—the Wright State University & Premier Health Partners Neuroscience Institute and the National Center for Medical Readiness
  • Opened the Wright State Physicians building on the Wright State campus
  • Formed the WSU and PHP Clinical Trials Research Alliance

Part’s genuine interest in growing the school and supporting its mission is visible in a wide variety of beneficial outcomes over the past 14 years. Since Part took the reins as dean in 1998, more than $77.6 million has been raised for medical school scholarships, programs, and infrastructure, and more than $291 million has been generated in research funding.

n June 2005, local philanthropist, Oscar Boonshoft, and his family donated $28.5 million to the medical school, the largest gift in the history of the university. The school of medicine was aptly renamed the Boonshoft School of Medicine. Boonshoft also donated $2.5 million to endow a chair in Health Systems Management in 1999, and gave a $2 million gift in 2003 to develop a physician leadership development program, offering combined M.D./M.B.A. and M.D./M.P.H. programs.

Arthur Pickoff, M.D., chair of the Departments of Community Health and Pediatrics at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, called what transpired during Part’s time as dean an “astounding transformation” of the medical school.

“He is the most genuine individual I’ve ever had the privilege to call ‘boss,’” said Pickoff. “He created new departments, new centers of excellence, expanded the number of faculty and research programs, secured large gift donations that transformed educational facilities, and established the physician leadership program. He is brilliant and thoughtful.”

Part’s influence stretched beyond the Wright State campus; he was a mentor to other medical school deans, partly because of his effectiveness at Wright State, and partly because of his ability to build and preserve long-lasting relationships.

“Dr. Part has always been a delight to work with. He is very thoughtful, fairminded, a class act, and a real gentleman. He is a very strategic, long-term thinker. Dr. Part has helped us have very successful residencies, and teaching has made Premier a better organization. Premier and Wright State were lucky to have him. He has given a lot to the community and deserves a great retirement.”—Mary Boosalis, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Premier Health Partners

Jack Brose, D.O., dean of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, described Part as a mentor and a friend.

“He has clearly been one of the most effective medical school deans in Ohio, and is highly respected by all of the other medical school deans,” said Brose. “When I was chair of the Ohio Council of Medical School Deans, Part was always the first person I contacted to help deal with issues affecting the medical schools. He is an outstanding internist, an exceptional dean, and a wonderful person.”

According to Part, medicine will always be a profession in which you can have a positive impact on peoples’ lives. As dean, Part graduated more than 1,255 medical students who are doing just that. He will continue to touch the lives of those who are fortunate enough to learn from him as he returns to the full-time faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine. VS

Last edited on 04/18/2016.