UNM School of Medicine

The dream for the young School of Medicine continues

Robert S. Stone, MD

Dean of the UNM School of Medicine 1968-1973


Reprinted from UNMed Magazine (Summer 2012)

In 1968, Robert S. Stone, MD, the first chair of pathology, and former Dean Fitz's associate dean, became the School of Medicine's second dean. Born in 1922, he received his MD degree from the State University of New York in 1950. Dr. Stone left UCLS, where he had been an associate professor, and came to the UNM School of Medicine in 1963.

The quiet, skillful leadership of Dean Stone was characterized by collegiality and strong, efficient administration. A major challenge at the beginning of his five-year tenure as dean was filling a number of vacancies left by some of the original faculty who went on to take other positions.

One of his many successful hires was Diane Klepper, MD, who completed her residency as chief resident in the Department of Internal Medicine in 1967. She was appointed assistant dean for admissions and student affairs with an academic rank of instruction in Internal Medicine. She served a total of 31 years as assistant dean and later as associate dean.

First Vice President for Health Sciences

In January 1970, Dean Stone became the first Vice President for Health Sciences. The effect of this appointment consolidated the supervision of the School of Medicine, the College of Nursing, and the College of Pharmacy into a single reporting structure.

Early recognition of diversity needs

In reviewing student applications with faculty, Dean Stone identified an issue: there were no minority applicants. With Dean Stone's directive, several influential faculty members persuaded Alonzo Atencio, PhD, to come to New Mexico from his then-current faculty position at Northwestern University. Dr. Atencio became a faculty member of the Department of Biochemistry, and also was named assistant dean and director of minority programs.

With funding from the Macy Foundation, 1971-1973, Dr. Atencio began a high school student recruitment program. In 1972, he obtained funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Hispanic Centers of Excellence for the Basic Sciences Enrichment Program. This provided pre-entry basic science education for incoming minority medical students. Dr. Atencio initiated National Board review courses, Medical College Admissions Test review courses, and the Medical Careers Opportunity Program.

The Cancer Research and Treatment Center

Dean Stone began creating plans for a Cancer Research and Treatment Center (CRTC). In 1971, the New Mexico State Legislature appropriated funding for construction and staffing. A grant from the National Cancer Institute completed the funding package. The CRTC opened in 1975.

In a recent conversation, Dean Stone recalls a moment of levity in a legislative meeting in reference to the CRTC. One of the legislators asked, "What do you plan to do with the building once you have cured cancer?"

Leaving a legacy

In his five years at the helm, Dean Stone clearly took the school to the next level with far-reaching ideas. He appointed a woman to a key leadership role and opened doors to minorities. Through his leadership efforts, Dean Stone shaped the character of the school, molding it into the progressive enterprise it has become.

At the end of his affiliation with UNM, he took a year-long leave to become a visiting professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. In 1973, President Richard Nixon named Dr. Stone to be director of the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC.