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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA College of Medicine’s founding dean dies at 84

    Dr. Merlin K. DuVal
    Dr. Merlin K. DuVal

    Dr. Merlin K. “”Monte”” DuVal, the founding dean of the UA College of Medicine, died Dec. 5 from a heart attack in Phoenix.

    “”He was big-hearted and generous and engaging,”” said Fred DuVal, his son and a member of the Arizona Board of Regents. “”He was a very, very well-read and thoughtful person.””

    DuVal, who was 84, helped raise funds for Arizona’s first medical school in 1964, designed the original facility and recruited faculty members. The school opened in 1967.

    “”Clearly, he is the most important individual in the history of the College of Medicine, and that’s true beyond a shadow of a doubt,”” said Dr. Keith Joiner, dean of the College of Medicine.

    A graduate of medical schools at Dartmouth and Cornell universities, DuVal served as president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Health Education in San Francisco and the Associated Hospital Systems/American Healthcare Institute in Phoenix and Washington, D.C., according to the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

    In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed DuVal the assistant secretary of health in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

    Fred DuVal said his father also began the Med-Start program, which encourages rural, disadvantaged and minority Arizonans to consider a career in the health professions.

    The summer program runs in both Phoenix and Tucson.

    DuVal got the idea when he was traveling around Arizona to raise funds for the medical school. He frequently heard from rural Arizonans that medical opportunities were not available to them, something his father wanted to change, Fred DuVal said.

    DuVal was also an advocate of universal health care, believing that everyone deserved affordable and quality health care, Joiner said.

    In the early 1970s, DuVal was the first federal official to warn Americans about the dangers of smoking, suggesting that tobacco companies put a warning on the side of products, Fred DuVal said.

    Even late in his life, he remained active in the medical community and attended the opening ceremony for the UA College of Medicine’s Phoenix campus – something DuVal had been advocating for a long time, Joiner said.

    Joiner said he recalls that when he moved to Tucson, he had a three-hour lunch with DuVal.

    “”He went back 40 years through the history of the College of Medicine,”” Joiner said. “”It was probably the most fascinating three hours that I can ever remember.””

    However, Joiner said DuVal would refuse to tell him what to do.

    “”He said, ‘This is your show now,'”” Joiner said. “”He would give insight, and there would be nobody else in the world that could give me that insight.””

    Fred DuVal said he is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community following his father’s death.

    “”On a personal level, he will be missed,”” Fred DuVal said.

    In lieu of flowers, DuVal’s family requested that memorial donations be given to Med-Start. Checks may be made payable to UA Foundation: Med-Start and mailed to Development Office, UA College of Medicine, P.O. Box 245018, Tucson, AZ 85724-5018.

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