Longtime University of St. Francis Board of Trustees member M. Therese Southgate, MD, a senior editor at JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association for nearly five decades, died at her home in Chicago on Nov. 22 after a short illness. She was 85.
Dr. Southgate is a member of the Class of 1948, graduating with a degree in chemistry. She earned her MD degree from Marquette University School of Medicine (now the Medical College of Wisconsin) in 1960, one of only three women in her graduating class. She completed her rotating internship at St Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco in 1961.
Dr. Southgate accepted the position of senior editor at JAMA, headquartered in Chicago, in 1962, the first woman to hold that position. Two years later, the editors of JAMA made the decision to feature a work of fine art on the journal’s cover. In 1974, Dr. Southgate was promoted to deputy editor, the second-highest position at the journal. That same year, she began to select all of the works of fine art as well as to write an eloquent accompanying essay. “The Cover” became a hugely popular and much-admired weekly feature until the journal was redesigned in 2013. Many readers—physicians and non-physicians alike—often asked why a preeminent journal in clinical and scientific medicine would reproduce a renowned work of fine art on its front cover each week.
“The visual arts have everything to do with medicine,” Dr. Southgate said. “There exists between the two an affinity that has been recognized for millennia. Art is a uniquely human quality. It signifies the unquenchable human quality of hope. Long and loving attention is at the heart of painting. It is also at the heart of medicine, at the heart of caring for the patient.”
In 1997, 2001 and 2010, Dr. Southgate published three successive collections of her essays and the accompanying images that had appeared in JAMA over the years—The Art of JAMA—to critical acclaim. She was the 2008 recipient of the Nicholas E. Davies Memorial Scholar Award for Scholarly Activities in the Humanities and History of Medicine from the American College of Physicians. She was chosen by the U.S. National Library of Medicine as a Local Legend, “honoring the remarkable, deeply caring women doctors who are transforming medical practice and improving health care for all across America.”
Dr. Southgate semiretired from JAMA in 2008 and spent much of her time at her Marina City writing studio in Chicago, polishing her memoirs and finishing a murder mystery set in a medieval English town.
Dr. Southgate joined the University of St. Francis Board of Trustees in 1998 and had previously served on the board from 1978-1982. She has been recognized as one of the university’s most notable alumni.
The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing, health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit www.stfrancis.edu.
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