J. Deryl Hart photo from 1962
Centennial Spotlights

J. Deryl Hart

Even before Duke had a medical school or hospital, Julian Deryl Hart knew it would grow to become one with a national reputation.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Hart came to Durham in 1930 to accept the position of professor of surgery and chairman of the department in the Duke University School of Medicine and Hospital, which was still under construction. It was a job he would hold for 30 years.

In 1931 Hart and his colleagues devised a plan to create what was then called the private diagnostic clinic. That concept lives on in the Duke Health Integrated Practice, comprising 1,500 physicians and healthcare providers and recognized as one of the world’s top medical institutions.

“Those first physicians set a very high standard and there was a dedication in that place that you couldn’t match anywhere else,” Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans said in a video celebrating the 85th anniversary of the clinic.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s he focused on medicine and research. His pioneering work on the use of ultraviolet radiation as a means of combating airborne infections in the operating room won national acclaim.

In April 1960, during a time of turmoil that included the ouster of two high-profile academics, including then-president Arthur Hollis Edens, Hart assumed the duties of president pro tem. Nearly a year later Hart was selected by the Board of Trustees as the university’s fourth president.

During his three years as president conflict and tension among administrators and faculty eased. Hart also presided over major campus expansions, an increase in faculty salaries, a doubling of endowed professorships and the desegregation of both the graduate and professional schools in 1961 followed and the undergraduate schools in 1962.

Hart retired in 1963 and died in 1980 at the age of 86.