Dean David W. E. Baird, MD
Dean Baird's noble desk sits in the office of the OHSU Historical Collections & Archives. One often wonders what stories it might tell if only it could talk. One of OHSU's most illustrious leaders once sat and directed the university from this desk from 1943 to 1968. David William Eccles Baird spent his life in Oregon, committing himself to the welfare and growth of the university and its people.
He was born and raised in Baker, Oregon in 1898. At the age of 18 young Baird "…followed his father into the office of the president of the University of Oregon in a new suit and 12 inch boots and stood, damp hands clutching his 10-gallon hat while the senior Baird spelled out the conduct expected from the eldest of his seven children. "Keep an eye on my boy", he said, "and if he gets into any trouble, just let me know."
From the day he entered the University of Oregon as an undergraduate, to the pinnacle of his career as Dean of the University of Oregon Medical school, his path was to become the solid rock that supported the growth of the medical school from 1943 until he was forced into retirement by mandate in 1968 at the age of seventy.
Dr. Baird's professional career began and ended at UOMS: He graduated from UOMS in 1926 and completed his internship and residency at Multnomah County Hospital. In 1932 he was named assistant clinical professor of medicine and in 1935 he became the medical director of Hospitals and Clinics. He became Associate Dean in 1937 and succeeded the third dean of the school, Richard B. Dillehunt, in 1943.
His record speaks for itself: In 1943 there were 26 full time teaching and research faculty; in 1968 there were 276. In 1943 the volunteer faculty increased from 102 to 675 in1968. In 1943 there were 20 departments and divisions and by 1968, there were 39. Student enrollment in 1943 numbered 637 and by 1968, the numbers soared to 1,202.
Among his other achievements were the establishment of the UOMS Teaching Hospital and the construction of the Medical Research Building. He was responsible for the administration of the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center and was also a member of the Portland Clinic staff.
In 1946, he was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree from the University of Portland and in 1969 he was presented with the University of Oregon's Award for Distinguished Service. Dr. Baird died on July 28, 1974.
It is certain that Dean Baird's father, a railroad conductor, must have been proud of his boy and could rest assured that he was much too busy to get into any trouble.
Photo: David Baird, MD
Contributed by Karen Peterson, archivist, OHSU Historical Collections & Archives