Spotlight: J. Bruce Jackson, MD

J. Bruce Jackson, MD Award"Advisor," "mentor," and "friend" are often the words used to describe the late Carl F. Wittke, who, from 1948 to 1963, was a professor of history, chair of that department, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and a vice-president of Western Reserve University.

And retired physician J. Bruce Jackson (ADL '52) believes those words truly befit Prof. Wittke, so much so that he has established the J. Bruce Jackson, MD, Award in Undergraduate Mentoring. The award will honor outstanding advising and mentoring of undergraduate students at Case Western Reserve University by a current employee or emeriti faculty member.

"He was a major influence in my life, not only because of what he thought I could do. He also was my mentor and friend and was largely responsible for my going to medical school."

When the freshman from New Philadelphia, Ohio, came to what was then Western Reserve University to study chemistry, he says, he "got lost in the hustle-bustle of the big city. I came up at a time when I had just enough money for tuition. I needed a job, so I went to student employment and they assigned me to Dean Wittke."

A young Jackson began doing yardwork on weekends for Prof. Wittke and continued the assignment through the end of his junior year. "We developed a good relationship, more than just the teacher-student. He motivated me to think about my future and to consider medical school."

Although he had toyed with the idea of going to medical school, Dr. Jackson admits his grades "were not that good. But he convinced me to take premed courses. I did very well—much better than the other classes I was taking." Encouraged, he applied to medical school. "But I knew my grades were not good enough to get into Western Reserve. Dean Wittke had a friend, a dean, at Ohio State, and he told him he thought I could do well there if given the chance."

He was a major influence in my life, not only because of what he thought I could do. He also was my mentor and friend and was largely responsible for my going to medical school.

After earning a bachelor of science in chemistry from Adelbert College, he went to Ohio State University, earning his MD in 1956.

The two remained in touch over the years as Dr. Jackson developed his career in general surgery and medicine. He eventually specialized in cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Jackson served in the air force, and worked at Akron City Hospital and at Mansfield (Ohio) General Hospital, before beginning a private practice. He retired in 1996 and volunteered for five years with the City-County Health Commission. He fully retired in 2001.

Dr. Jackson, who settled in Mansfield, married the former Nancy Beagle and together they raised four children.

The J. Bruce Jackson, MD, Award in Undergraduate Mentoring is designed to honor recipients who have guided a student toward the discovery of academic and career paths, fostered the student's long-term personal development, challenged students to reflect, explore, and grow as an individual, and supported and or facilitated the student's goals and life choices.

These criteria speak to what mentoring is all about, and Dr. Jackson is poised to encourage more of that at CWRU. "Any instructor or teacher who can develop a student—who can see much more than a GPA—will do much more for the student. I can tell you, there is more to education than a GPA, and a good mentor will find those things in a student."

"There is already an honor named for him for distinguished teaching," says Dr. Jackson. "This award is a tribute to the things he did for me."

- Marsha Lynn Bragg