Dr. Stuart Yudofsky retired from Baylor on Dec. 31 after nearly a quarter century as chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. He’s been a member of the BCM family since well before that, attending medical school here before joining the faculty.
In addition to serving as department chair, Yudofsky also held the Beth K. and Stuart C. Yudofsky Presidential Chair in Neuropsychiatry and was a Distinguished Service Professor. He is nationally recognized for his research and clinical practice in psychopharmacology and neuropsychiatry in the treatment of mood and behavioral changes associated with brain disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury.
In retirement, Yudofsky plans to remain a Baylor voluntary faculty member to teach, write and support advancement of mental health in the Houston community.
His career and service to Baylor were celebrated at a retirement ceremony Dec. 14, where he was presented a commemorative chair. He offered a reflection on his time at Baylor. Here’s Yudofsky in his own words:
In 1965, as a fourth-year college student in New York City, I applied to Baylor University College of Medicine (as we were then called) and was fortunate enough to be granted an interview in Houston.
From the moment I stepped into the Cullen Building – just yards away from where we are right now – I felt the pulsations of the unfettered passion for the practice of medicine, for pursuing medical innovation, and for exploring human possibilities that pervaded every pore of the institution at that time – as it does to this very day.
As a medical student at Baylor, I learned what really hard work is from Baylor’s inspired and inspiring faculty and from my hard-working fellow medical students. I felt that if I were to drop a pencil while taking notes in class, I would fall irrevocably behind my peers.
I was blessed with the privilege of being taught by true medical giants who were senior members of the faculty – Michael E. DeBakey, Denton Cooley from surgery Roger Guillemin, Hebbel Hoff from basic sciences; Brantley and Russell Scott from urology, and Sherv Frazier, Hilde Bruch, Bill Cantrell from psychiatry; and many, many others.
And I was equally fortunate to work under the meticulous, strict tutelage of budding academic giants like Bobby Alford, William Butler, George Noon, Kenneth Mattox, and the saintly Carlos Vallbona, who were then in the early stages of their careers.
In the 1960s, the faculty set a high bar for Baylor medical students with regard to their expectations for us as physicians. And the bar is even higher for today’s BCM medical students as it was for my class, almost 50 years ago.
So when Drs. Butler, Alford, and DeBakey called me at the University of Chicago over 25 years ago and did me the great honor to invite me to return, I was elated about returning. But I also felt the ponderous weight of the role models and expectations of the giants who were my teachers. At that moment I committed to run the hardest race I could in order not to let my role models and mentors down.
Today, I am grateful to Drs. DeBakey, Butler, Alford, and Klotman for their unswerving support of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and of me.
I thank the 130 extraordinary faculty members of the Menninger Department for their unalloyed service and loyalty to Baylor, the department and to me. I wish I could thank each one of you in person today. Instead, I will thank solely my executive team – Jim Lomax in education, John Oldham in clinical affairs and departmental development, Tom Kosten in research – as well as David Arciniegas who runs the division of nNeuropsychiatry like an elegant Swiss Timepiece.
I am greatly indebted to and appreciative of our unparalleled leaders of our psychiatry services at affiliated institutions: Ed Coffey, the President and CEO of the Menninger Clinic; Asim Shah, who is chief of the Department’s psychiatry service at Harris Health; Laura Marsh, who heads the Mental Health Care Line at the at the MEDVAC; Mark Kunik is the Director of our VA MIRECC Program; Efrain Bleiberg, our chief of psychiatry at Texas Children’s Hospital; and Priscilla Ray, who runs the Baylor inpatient psychiatric service at Houston Methodist Hospital. Every day they serve our community, teach our students, and make the department great and me look better than I am.
I thank my fellow chairs of dlinical and basic science departments, and BCM center directors. I cannot think of a single incidence in almost 25 years where we haven’t worked together and helped one another in every way possible. This is the ultimate litmus of a functional institutional setting.
I express boundless appreciation to the selfless members of the Baylor Board of Trustees – of yesterday and today – who built and support this academic treasure that made it possible for me and my daughter Lynn to become “real” doctors and who have created and sustain this optimal environment for my wonderful wife, Beth and me to treat patients, teach students, and to serve.
I have now run my race…have done my best…and it is now time to pass on this weighty baton of responsibility to Dr. Oldham and to the others who will follow us.
Beth and I thank all our dear friends and colleagues who are here today to join us at the finish line. Our best wishes and deepest gratitude to you all.”