Recently, the University of Kentucky family lost an exceptional physician, pioneer and transformational leader for our institution and medical enterprise. Peter Bosomworth, M.D., was 84 when he died Saturday morning, leaving an indelible mark on the University and our mission of quality education, research, health care and service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Dr. Bosomworth was part of the tradition of leadership and quality care that has defined the UK medical center for more than 40 years. Under his guidance as vice president and chancellor, the institution’s medical enterprise grew to include five colleges: Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Health Sciences and the existing College of Pharmacy. In addition, Dr. Bosomworth saw the growth and establishment of UK Chandler Hospital and the Kentucky Clinic.
But more than that, he helped shape generations of physicians, medical care providers, health administrators and personnel that push boundaries of discovery and offer care and comfort to the countless patients and families they reach. He mentored, inspired and prepared the people who carry forward our mission and the vision in which Dr. Bosomworth firmly believed.
Since we did not have the good fortune to know Dr. Bosomworth as well as others, we asked a mutual friend, former dean of the College of Medicine Dr. Emery Wilson, for some insight.
As he said, “everyone who knew Dr. Bosomworth feels a great loss because he was such a great man.”
An Akron, Ohio, native, Dr. Bosomworth received a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and a medical degree from the University of Cincinnati. He earned a master’s degree from The Ohio State University (OSU) following an internship at Cincinnati General Hospital and residency at OSU’s academic medical center. Dr. Bosomworth also served in the U.S. Navy and was the chief of anesthesia at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital.
In 1962, after a term on OSU’s anesthesia faculty, Dr. Bosomworth was named the first chairman of Anesthesiology at UK’s new College of Medicine. Recruited by Dr. William R. Willard, the medical center’s first vice president and dean of the College of Medicine, Dr. Bosomworth became the youngest department chair in the U.S.
His career included an extraordinary period of growth for UK. In 1967, Dr. Bosomworth was asked to serve as acting associate dean for clinical affairs in the College of Medicine, a position that became permanent in 1969. A year later, he was appointed vice president for the UK Chandler Medical Center, and later became its chancellor in 1982.
When he retired in 1994, Dr. Bosomworth was recognized as having the longest tenure of any top medical center administrator at a single academic institution in the country. He was respected for his vision, his honesty and his resilience. And, because of his loyalty and leadership, UK flourished as his fortitude and thoughtfulness emboldened the impact of our work.
His leadership was characterized by his colleagues at UK and across the country as one guided by resolute integrity and creative insight. In their words, he led by example, identified strong leaders, and found ways to help the right people make a positive impact while pursuing an admirable vision for UK’s medical center.
Throughout his tenure, Dr. Bosomworth remained steadfastly committed to quality patient care. His dedication was evident through his personal interaction with medical students and residents, always promoting highly competent, attentive and compassionate care.
Reflecting on colleagues and students, Dr. Bosomworth once said, “Throughout my career, an area that has given me great pleasure is to see the personal and professional development of my colleagues and students. Seeing people reach new heights and experience the possibilities and rewards associated with their work is very satisfying to me.”
Over the years, staying at the forefront of medicine, he studied the telemedicine concept extensively in the U.S. and Europe. As chancellor emeritus, he remained on the medical faculty for several years and served as a telemedicine consultant for UK’s telehealth program. In 2001, UK opened the Peter P. Bosomworth Health Sciences Research Building to honor and recognize his contributions.
Fortunately, Dr. Bosomworth was able to witness the full scope of his impact and legacy when he attended the opening of the state-of-the-art Pavilion A at Chandler Hospital in 2011. He was able to see the full-scale transformation of the medical enterprise he helped build into a national center that now offers a level of care unmatched in Kentucky.
We agree with Emery Wilson. Those of us who knew him and worked with him, as well as those who will come after us, owe Dr. Bosomworth so much. UK has a long tradition of trail-blazing pioneers, and he was clearly one of them. While he will be sorely missed, his legacy lives on in each of us and in our work to improve the health and well-being of the people we serve.
Dr. Eli Capilouto Michael Karpf, MD
President Executive VP for Health Affairs
University of Kentucky UK HealthCare