Former Washington University School of Medicine dean dies, leaving prestigious legacy

William Peck, MD, the former dean and executive vice chancellor of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, passed away on Feb. 22 at age 89. 

Dr. Peck was named the John E.and Adaline Simon Professor of Medicine and co-chair of the medical department at Washington University — as well as physician-in-chief at what was then Jewish Hospital of St. Louis — in 1976, according to an obituary posted to the medical school's website. 

In 1989, Dr. Peck was promoted to the medical school's helm, and in 1993, he was named executive vice chancellor. He served 14 years before retiring in 2003. During his tenure, Washington University became one of the most academically selective medical schools — and a leading center for medical research and academic clinical practice, according to the obituary. Dr. Peck helped expand the school's research profile and its partnership with Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He led the opening of its Center for Advanced Medicine, a 14-story building with clinical and outpatient surgical space. 

After he stepped down as dean, Dr. Peck established the Center for Health Policy — now the Center for Economics and Health Policy — at the university's institute for public health. The medical school honored him by creating the Peck Scholars program, which provides scholarships to medical students based on need and merit. 

"Bill could have been eminently successful in a dozen walks of life — business, finance, music and anything that requires skills with people," said former Chancellor William H. Danforth, MD,  as Dr. Peck was preparing to step down as dean. "Luckily, he chose medicine and Washington University."

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