Robert McCollister completed his residency in internal medicine at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis (1955-58) and then in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Minnesota (1958-59). In 1962, he joined the faculty of the Medical School in the Division of Hematology within the Department of Medicine. In 1964 he was appointed assistant dean of Medical Student Affairs and from the late 1960s onward, worked with the Medical School’s Educational Policy Committee, which was responsible for maintaining the Medical School curriculum. From the early 1980s until his retirement in 2005, McCollister served as associate dean of curriculum affairs in the Medical School.
Robert McCollister begins by discussing his background, including his education and medical training. He discusses getting into administration, how he became involved with the curriculum, working in the Department of Laboratory Medicine, and his work as assistant dean of student affairs. He offers many reflections on the development of the Medical School curriculum. He describes the work to improve the governance in the Medical School in the mid-1960s, revising the curriculum in the 1960s, the expansion of Medical School class size in the 1960s, recruitment of minority students, and Robert Howard’s departure as dean of the College of Medical Sciences and the appointment of Lyle French as the first Vice President of the Health Sciences. He discusses the Educational Policy Committee, the large number of women in leadership positions in the Department of Laboratory Medicine, the reorganization of the health sciences in 1970, department “fiefdoms”, Curriculum 2010, the Comprehensive Clinic, the Department of Family and Community Health, specialization in medicine, Phase C of the medical school curriculum, the teaching of behavioral science within the curriculum, transfer students from the Dakotas, the Program in Human Sexuality, and the student attempt to get a medical ethics course included in the curriculum. He talks about Ray Amberg, C.J. Watson, Richard Ebert, Frederic Kottke, Robert Howard, Benjamin Fuller, Frank Cerra, and Lyle French.
Robert McCollister was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on July 27, 1928. He received his MD degree from the University of Iowa in 1953. He did his internship in Oakland, California. After medical school, he served as a flight surgeon in the US Air force from 1953 to 1955. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis (1955-58) and then in the Department of Laboratory Medicine the University of Minnesota, doing research with Dr. Ellis Benson (1958-59). In 1960, he was chief resident in medicine at the University Hospital and was appointed instructor in the Department of Medicine. From 1961-62, he did research at Duke University in hematology in the Research Training Program. In 1962, he returned to the University of Minnesota to take up a faculty position in the Division of Hematology within the Department of Medicine. In 1964, he was appointed as a part-time assistant dean of student affairs in the College of Medical Sciences. In the late 1960s he joined the dean’s office in support of the Educational Policy Committee, an initiative to examine and refine the Medical School’s curriculum. In the early 1980s, Dr. McCollister was appointed associate dean of curriculum affairs in the medical school. He retired in 2005.