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In Memoriam: June F. Klinghoffer, MD, WMC ’45, revered faculty member

May 6, 2008

June F. Klinghoffer, MD, an alumna of Woman's Medical College and revered faculty member who taught at the College of Medicine for five decades, passed away on May 3, 2008. She was 87. Dr. Klinghoffer continued to participate in College of Medicine activities in recent years, serving on Drexel's Legacy Committee and as co-chair of the campaign to build a permanent home for the College's archives.

Dr. Klinghoffer was best known as a longtime teacher and role model for women physicians at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMC), later known as the Medical College of Pennsylvania (MCP) as it was renamed when men were admitted in 1970. Dr. Klinghoffer's work and influence continued into the 21st century when the College became Drexel University College of Medicine.

June Klinghoffer as a student

A 1938 graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, Dr. Klinghoffer next attended the pre-med program at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1941. She was one of three women students in the program. Dr. Klinghoffer's positive experience with same-sex education at Girls' High encouraged her interest in the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated in 1945.

After an internship and residency at what is now the Albert Einstein Medical Center, Dr. Klinghoffer returned to her alma mater on a fellowship, and remained throughout her long career. Barbara Schindler, MD, a 1970 graduate of Woman's Med, and currently the William Maul Measey Chair in Medical Education and vice dean for education and academic affairs, says: "If I had to pick a single person in the last 50 years who represents all that is good and positive about WMC/MCP, it would be June Klinghoffer. With great passion and love, she's given her entire life to the institution. She has impacted the lives of more students than any other single faculty member, and probably more than a dozen faculty members combined."

Dr. Klinghoffer rose from a clinical assistant in the Department of Medicine in 1948 to a full professor in 1969, holding the Ethel Russell Morris Chair in Medicine from 1987 to her retirement in 2000. Her devotion to her students is evidenced in her extraordinarily long tenure as director of the Junior Clerkship in Medicine and her position as director of Student Teaching Programs for the Department of Medicine. As an internist and specialist in rheumatology, Dr. Klinghoffer served her patients with the same devotion and care that she brought to her work with students. Through decades of institutional change and evolution, her devotion to the College remained steadfast. At committee meetings and other settings, even through her years as professor emeritus, Dr. Klinghoffer called attention to tradition and first principles, but also explored new avenues and possibilities, all with the goal of serving patients and students better.

June Klinghoffer, MD

She received numerous awards, including the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, and Founders' Day and Alumni Achievement awards. A chair and professorship in the Department of Medicine were established in her honor. She was elected to the Girls' High Hall of Fame in 2006. A bronze statue of Dr. Klinghoffer greets students, faculty and visitors to the College of Medicine's Queen Lane Campus. But her most prized accolade came directly from her students: serving regularly as "oather" and "hooder" at commencement.

The Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, founded in 1850 as the first medical school in the world for women, and its successor institution, Drexel University College of Medicine were and are committed to supporting women medical students, faculty and leaders in medicine. June Klinghoffer remained devoted to the advancement of women in medicine all her life, but when men were first admitted to Woman's Med, Dr. Klinghoffer was among their strongest supporters. Donald Lieberman, a 1973 graduate, has said, "She always made me feel that we belonged there. She really expressed that to her colleagues who might have been somewhat resistant to our presence. That was never an issue with her. We weren't men, we were doctors in training. Nonetheless, she also remained a role model for aspiring female physicians."

Dr. Klinghoffer was predeceased by her husband, Sidney Wenger, MD, a professor of psychiatry at MCP. She is survived by her son, Robert Wenger, MD, a 1983 graduate of MCP, and his wife, Sharon, who graduated from MCP in 1984; a grandson, Isaac; and nieces and nephews.