Eckenhoff, James E.
James Edward Eckenhoff was born on April 2, 1915 in Easton Maryland. Graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1937, Eckenhoff went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1941. There, he decided on specializing in anesthesiology, eventually achieving full professorship.
After twenty-one years at the University of Pennsylvania, Eckenhoff came to Northwestern in 1966. In addition to joining the Medical School faculty as professor, Eckenhoff also organized an autonomous Department of Anesthesia, and soon thereafter, Eckenhoff became Director of the second Anesthesia Research Center with the support of the National Institutes of Health. During his tenure as director, many reforms and innovations were implemented, primarily through the establishment of the new Research Center. Here, residents were trained in anesthesiology and conducted research. These changes helped the department raise its standards, making it one of the better departments throughout the United States.
After Medical School Dean Richard H. Young resigned from his position in 1970, the Medical School looked for a successor from within, appointing Dr. Eckenhoff as Young’s successor. Eckenhoff instantly instigated a series of institutional advances, based on the recommendations of a Reorganization Committee that he had headed prior to his role as Dean. The report given by the group did in fact serve as his inaugural platform.
During Eckenhoff’s nine-year tenure as Dean, the Medical School experienced a massive facelift, including the construction and/or acquisition of eight different buildings and the establishment of affiliations with other hospitals. Administrative advances were also quite noticeable, particularly in the creation of Faculty and Student Senates, the installation of an Office of Development, and the appointment of a Director of Medical Education. Among the academic advances were the creation of the following programs: a M.D.-Ph.D. program in conjunction with the Graduate School; a Master of Public Health program; a Baccalaureate program in Nursing Education; a section on general medicine in the Department of Medicine; a wholly elective curriculum for the fourth year students; a Family Practice program in collaboration with Columbus-Cuneo-Cabrini and St. Joseph hospitals; and annual visiting professorships to honor distinguished alumni. Additionally, funding more than doubled from 1971 to 1979.
Dr. Eckenhoff retired in 1980. He served as president of the McGaw Medical Center from 1980-1985, and was named a distinguished VA physician in 1984. James E. Eckenhoff died on November 25, 1996.
For additional information on James E. Eckenhoff, see Northwestern University Medical School 1859-1979 by Leslie B. Arey.