Remembering Emanuel Suter
Founding chair of the College of Medicine department of microbiology and the college’s second dean passes away.
Influential, persuasive, supportive — these are just a few of the words used to describe the late Emanuel “Manny” Suter, founding chair of the UF College of Medicine department of microbiology and the college’s second dean.
“He was the best boss I ever had — an unbelievable human being,” said UF Professor Emeritus Parker A. Small Jr., MD, a microbiologist who worked with Suter in the 1960s. “He never would take credit for anything. He would work hard on getting something done, getting it to work, and then make sure that someone else got the credit.”
Suter, the founding chair of the UF College of Medicine department of microbiology who later became the college’s second dean, died Jan. 8 at age 95 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Suter received a medical degree from the University of Basel in Switzerland in 1945 and immigrated to the U.S. to conduct tuberculosis research under René Dubos, a leading microbiologist at New York’s Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.
Later, Suter created an experimental educational program at Harvard Medical School that caught the attention of UF College of Medicine founding dean, George T. Harrell, MD, who tapped him to lead the microbiology department of Florida’s new medical school.
Suter delved into the inner workings of medical education at the college by chairing the curriculum and medical student admissions committees and took over as dean when Harrell left Florida in 1964.
Suter served as dean from 1964 to 1972, and during that time he teamed with Florida State University — which did not have a medical school — to permit students to complete their first year in Tallahassee and then finish training in Gainesville.
Hear Dr. Suter discuss how he ended up at UF
In addition, he initiated a family and community medicine program (which would later become its own clinical department) and helped expand the UF Health Science Center.
But some of Suter’s most significant contributions included developing what was considered one of the most advanced medical education curriculums of its time and becoming a proponent of ethnic diversity.
Faculty from across the college helped shape the new curriculum, which better integrated clinical and basic science learning to provide a more patient-focused experience, and the college graduated its first African-American students under Suter’s leadership. He received recognition for his civil rights efforts by UF’s Black Students Health Professions Coalition.
Hear Dr. Suter share his first impressions of the college
Suter’s colleagues recognized his passion for nurturing young minds. Small described him as a leader with clear, unselfish goals who created a “Camelot.”
Suter left Gainesville for Washington, D.C., in 1972 to direct international medical education efforts at the Association of American Medical Colleges, and later joined the Veterans Administration’s Continuing Education Center.
He returned to the College of Medicine as a resident educational consultant, assisting with re-accreditation efforts and working with the Office of Educational Affairs from 1991 to 1997.
In this position, Suter spearheaded an initiative to develop a stronger infrastructure for the college’s mission and worked to improve existing plans, such as the continuing medical education program.
Later, at his 90th birthday party, he would refer to these six years as some of the most rewarding of his professional career.
“He became my No. 1 mentor during this time,” said Robert Watson, MD ’69, a student during Suter’s deanship and the former senior associate dean for educational affairs, who worked with him upon his return to UF.
“I have never met anyone else like him, ever,” Watson said.