In July 1986 Dr. Sherman Mellinkoff retired after 24 years as dean of the UCLA School of Medicine, a position he held longer than any other medical school dean in the country. During this period, the school acquired an international reputation for both medical education and research.
Through Mellinkoff's administration, the medical school grew at a great pace. When he took office in 1962, the school's budget was less than $15 million. Last year it topped $180 million. Fifty-four students entered the school in 1962; 177 graduated this year, joining more than 3,000 fellow UCLA medical alumni. Today there are more 900 full-time medical school faculty, three times as many as in 1962. Almost 3,000 practicing physicians in the community also donate time as clinical faculty members.
Sherman Mussoff Mellinkoff was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, in 1920. As an infant he came to Los Angeles with his family. At Beverly Hills High School, among other things, he was Student Body President, Sealbearer, Ephebian, Knight, and winner of the Faculty Scholarship Cup, as well as a top debater. Yet he was kind, never condescending to others, including lower classmen. A Phi Beta Kappa at Stanford, Mellinkoff earned a B.A. degree in 1941 and an M.D. in 1944. He married his wife June, a former nurse, the same year. Following intern assistant resident service at Stanford Hospital, he served in the United States Army Medical Corps from July 1945 to July 1947. He left the service as a captain, from Pusan, Korea.
At Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1947 Mellinkoff considered academic medicine. He spent a year as a gastroenterology fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, then returned to Johns Hopkins as chief resident in 1951. Two years later he left for UCLA's new medical school as an assistant professor of medicine. In 1962, when Mellinkoff was a professor of medicine, Dr. Franklin Murphy, Chancellor of UCLA, asked him to be Dean.
In a recent interview, Mellinkoff stated, "By the time I was in high school, I was interested in literature, history and debating, everything except medicine." As a senior he took a biology class taught by a physician, Dr. Lowell B. Frost, head of the Science Department. Inspired, Mellinkoff enrolled as a pre-med student at Stanford. A distinguished medical career began at Beverly High.
After retiring, Mellinkoff took a year-long sabbatical in New Zealand, Australia, England, and the United States. He returned to UCLA to teach clinical medicine as the first incumbent of a $1 million endowed professorship established in his honor through private donations.
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