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Off to Great Places

The nation's fourth-oldest medical school becomes the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

Dartmouth's school of medicine has a new name. On April 4, Dartmouth announced that the medical school would be named in honor of Audrey and Theodor Geisel. Theodor "Ted" Geisel graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925 and—as Dr. Seuss—became a celebrated author of children's books.

"Ted would be proud to have his name forever connected to one of America's finest schools of medicine. . . a school that's doing much good in the world," said Audrey Geisel, who was married to Ted from 1968 until his death in 1991. "This moving gesture on the part of Dartmouth joins Ted's great love of his alma mater and my passion of caring for others through the practice of medicine," she said.

According to Dean Wiley "Chip" Souba, the naming of the medical school will have a number of long-term benefits. He hopes future support will boost scholarships for medical students, reducing the amount of debt that students take on over the course of their medical education. The Geisels' benefaction will also help the school recruit talented new faculty members and retain current faculty.

Down the road, Souba added, the support will also help create endowed chairs for clinical departments, attracting some of the world's leading experts in various disciplines. Ted and Audrey Geisel's "benefaction will allow the Geisel School of Medicine to continue to be innovative in how students are trained, including ensuring that they have access to state-of-the-art technology, learning modalities, and facilities to learn the art and science of medicine," Souba said.

Valerie Jacobs, an M.D.-Ph.D. student and the president of the medical school's student government, was very excited to hear the news. She hopes the recognition will lead to the recruitment of new faculty members and additional support for current faculty, as well as to the ability to bolster scholarships. "It is a goal for students to be able to apply to residencies and choose programs based on their love of medicine and not with the burden and fear of financial debt," she said.

Ted would be proud to have his name forever connected to one of America's finest schools of medicine . . . a school that's doing much good in the world."
— Audrey Geisel

The announcement came as a surprise to many, including Jonathan Zipursky, a fourth-year medical student. "It was somewhat shocking that on April 4, the school not only completely changed its name but also its identity within what seemed to be a matter of minutes," he said. But, he added, "I think it is wonderful that the Geisel family has chosen to support the medical school and its students. The naming of the medical school is great . . . but I think that it is even more meaningful that the name on the school reflects Theodor Geisel's commitment to education and changing the world for the better."

Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim, expressed similar sentiments. "Naming our school of medicine in honor of Audrey and Ted Geisel is a tribute to two individuals whose work continues to change the world for the better," he said. "Audrey and Ted Geisel have cared deeply for this institution, and we are enormously proud to announce this lasting partnership."

Theodor Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Mass. Dartmouth played an important role in his life, according to Donald Pease, a Dartmouth College professor of English who published a biography of Geisel in 2010. "Ted cherished the profound sense of community he found at Dartmouth," Pease wrote.

In a 1975 interview with Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Geisel said that he "discovered the excitement of 'marrying' words to pictures" during his time at Dartmouth. "I began to get it through my skull that words and pictures were Yin and Yang," he said. "I began thinking that words and pictures, married, might possibly produce a progeny more interesting than either parent."

Geisel's pen name also grew out of a Dartmouth experience. After getting in trouble with the administration for throwing a party, he was told to give up his extracurricular activities, including writing for a student humor magazine, the Jack-O-Lantern. To continue working on the magazine, Geisel began using his middle name, Seuss.

After graduating from Dartmouth, Geisel continued to write and draw, working as a political cartoonist, an advertising illustrator, and in the animation department of the U.S. Army during World War II. But it was as a children's book author that he rose to fame. His first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was published in 1937. Twenty years later, he wrote The Cat in the Hat, which sold almost a million copies within the next three years. His last book, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, came out in 1990, when Geisel was 86 years old. Over the course of his career, he wrote and illustrated more than 50 books, many of which have been adapted for movies or television. His honors included a Pulitzer Prizes, three Academy Awards, two Emmys, and two Peabody Awards.

Audrey Geisel was born in Chicago and grew up around New York City. She is the president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises and manages the use of the many beloved characters created by Dr. Seuss. She was an executive producer of the movie adaptations of both Horton Hears a Who! (2008) and The Lorax, which was released earlier this year. She also worked on the republication in 2011 of seven Dr. Seuss stories originally published in the early 1950s: The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories.

Audrey has been active in a number of charities and organizations in the San Diego area, where she has long lived. Her efforts recently earned her the prestigious University of California, San Diego, Chancellor's Medal. In 2000, she received an honorary degree from Dartmouth College.

"Ted and Audrey Geisel's work and life serve as a timeless example for our future physicians at the Geisel School of Medicine," said Souba. "We teach our students to be compassionate, to pursue new knowledge that benefits their patients, and to have the courage and humility to make a profound difference in the lives of others."

The Geisel School of Medicine's new shield

The Geisel School of Medicine's new shield was created with the help of medical students, faculty, staff, and alumni, based on the elements and symbols they felt best described their experiences, the medical school's history and mission, and its connection to Dartmouth and the region.

The elements of the shield include:

the year of the medical school's founding,

The Book
representing students and the pursuit of knowledge,

The Rod of Asclepius
an ancient Greek symbol of healing and medicine,

The Lone Pine
connecting to the heritage of Dartmouth,

The Water
representing healing and the environment, as well as the Connecticut River, which runs through the heart of the region.

If you'd like to offer feedback about this article, we'd welcome getting your comments at DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

This article may not be reproduced or reposted without permission. To inquire about permission, contact DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

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