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Bernie Fogel, Remembered

The beloved former dean made the Miller School a truly global institution
Bernie Fogel


hen Bernard “Bernie” Fogel, M.D. ’61, died on March 30, the Miller School lost a champion. Dr. Fogel, who was 85, served as dean from 1981 to 1995. During that period, he oversaw a massive expansion of the school and refocused its mission to prioritize community service.

“He helped put us on the national stage,” said John Clarkson, M.D. ’68, an ophthalmologist who succeeded Dr. Fogel as dean and shared an office with him. “During his time we became an important institution for AIDS research, diabetes research and cancer research. I’ll miss him because when I would call him, I always felt better after talking to him. He had a way of making you feel better about yourself, making you feel better about things.”

Dr. Fogel was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1936, but his family moved to Miami when he was still a child. It was in South Florida that he made two key discoveries that would define the rest of his life.

The first was a lesson from his father, who owned and operated the Cakemaster Bakery near Coral Gables. Miami was racially segregated at the time, but his father made a point of hiring Black employees — even bailing them out of jail if they had run-ins with a police department that had only recently started allowing Black police officers in its ranks.

“They were really down-and-out people who needed a second chance,” said Dr. Fogel’s wife, Judy. “I think Bernie learned a whole lot about human nature and forgiveness and giving people another chance. That was definitely a part of his philosophy.”

That lesson evolved into the Miller School’s Health Careers Motivation Program, which offers students from historically marginalized communities training to help them increase their chances of being accepted into medical school. That program remains in effect today.

A New Focus

It would also inspire Dr. Fogel’s decision to reorient the Miller School to focus on giving back. At the time, most medical schools had a three-pronged mission statement: medical education, research and patient care. Dr. Fogel added a fourth: community service. The school started offering health fairs in marginalized communities, with faculty and students volunteering in great numbers to staff these clinics. That work earned the Miller School the Association of American Medical Colleges’ first-ever Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement in 1993.

Dr. Fogel’s second South Florida discovery came in high school when he was spending a day with some friends.

“There was this young man in the pool,” Judy Fogel said. “I thought he was just adorable. I told his mother when I was 15 years old that I was going to marry her son.”

She did, starting a 63-year marriage that resulted in three daughters, six grandchildren, and a lifelong commitment that endured to his final days.

“Oh my God, the way he was with those kids,” said Betty DuFour, Dr. Fogel’s former executive assistant. “He would work late, but he would be home when he needed to be. He was very devoted. A perfect family.”

It’s not surprising, therefore, that Dr. Fogel began his career as a pediatrician. After briefly attending Emory University, he transferred back home and earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees at the University of Miami. After graduating, he spent five years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, where he did his pediatric training and researched communicable diseases. He then returned to UM as director of the Division of Neonatology. In that role, he teamed up with other doctors in 1967 to perform the first successful thymus transplant on a six-week-old infant suffering from DiGeorge syndrome.

In 1981, he was chosen to lead the Miller School as dean, quickly earning a reputation as a bridge builder who excelled at creating, fostering and expanding the University’s relationships. He helped cement the bond between the University of Miami and Jackson Health System, which stands as one of the few remaining partnerships between a private university and a public hospital.

During his tenure, the Miller School experienced a rapid expansion of new programs, launching The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the Center for Adult Development and Aging, the Comprehensive AIDS Program and the Ear Institute. The school also built the Papanicolaou annex, the Gautier Building, the Winn-Dixie Hope Lodge and the Schoninger Research Quadrangle.

“Dr. Fogel was instrumental in elevating the Miller School from a regional institution to a truly global one, creating and fostering the programs that have become our hallmarks,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School. “The University and the broader South Florida community owe a great debt to his work.”

A True Pioneer

When Dr. Fogel stepped down as dean in 1995, U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek delivered a speech in Congress in which she called Dr. Fogel “one of the true pioneers of health care education in the country today.” During that speech, Meek made special note of Dr. Fogel’s Health Careers Motivation Program, pointing out that the university was, at the time, teaching half of all African American medical students in the entire state of Florida.

“Though one of the country’s youngest medical schools, during the Fogel years the University of Miami School of Medicine has achieved a level of excellence shared by some of the nation’s oldest and finest schools of medicine,” said Meek, who passed away in 2021.

Dr. Fogel remained an active adviser, mentor and fundraiser for another decade before retiring and moving to Bethesda, Maryland. There, he spent his days painting, drawing, following his favorite sports teams, and spending time with his wife and grandchildren.

DuFour, Dr. Fogel’s executive assistant, said she was consistently astonished that a man who carried so many responsibilities maintained such a kind and caring disposition around everybody he came across.

“I don’t know if he ever got angry,” she said. “He was very kind to everybody, top to bottom. It didn’t matter who you were or what you did, he was just a wonderful man.

Judy Fogel said her husband spent his life trying to instill those same values in his children and grandchildren.

“He had a quote that all the grandchildren are very aware of: ‘Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do,’” she said. “It was a marriage made in heaven. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

The Miller School has established a scholarship to honor the legacy of Dean Fogel. If you would like to give, please contact, Megan Brahimi at or by visiting