Remembering Dr. H. Keith H. Brodie

The Duke Community was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. H. Keith H. Brodie earlier this month. As both chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and president of Duke, he had a profound impact on Duke University and Duke Health.

There have been several well-written tributes to Dr. Brodie and his legacy in the past couple of weeks, so rather than attempt to write another, we thought that we would share some of his own words. We conducted an oral history interview with Dr. Brodie in 2004 that hopefully provides a glimpse of the type of leader that he was.

When asked about his continued dedication to psychiatry, Dr. Brodie shared the following:

“It’s been fun. You know, I’ve always felt that if we could interest undergraduates in what psychiatry is all about and what mental illness was and the potential for treatment and the huge burden of illness that these problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disease cause, it would be very helpful in encouraging some of our brighter minds to go into psychiatry. So I’ve been teaching at the undergraduate level freshman and senior seminars in psychobiology. About half the students I’ve taught are premed, and some of them have gone on into psychiatry, which gives me great pleasure. Others, even though they may have gone on into corporate life, business work, investment banking, carry with them an understanding of the human mind and an awareness of the stigma of mental illness and hopefully an altruism, an acceptance and tolerance that would preclude any prejudice that would be applied to the mentally ill. And I consider that a strong plus as well.

It’s been fun. Because I’ve taught seminars, I’ve remained fairly close to my students and been invited to attend their weddings. Obviously you write letters of recommendation for them at each stage of their life’s passage. I don’t think a day’s gone by we don’t get some piece of mail from a student whom I’ve taught at some point in the last twenty, thirty years. And they end up doing very interesting things. Today’s mail brought a letter from a young woman who graduated here three years ago who’s in the Peace Corps in Senegal. And is now wanting to go to med school. So I’m going to have to write a response. Also, as you know, the wonders of the Internet allow you to stay in touch with people, (laughs) and the e-mail traffic is equally fun. It’s been very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”

Dr. Brodie will certainly be missed.

You can download the transcript of the full oral history interview with Dr. Brodie here: MEDSpace

 Dr. H. Keith H. Brodie

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