A couple years short of 30 years at the University of Iowa practicing medicine, training residents and fellows, and leading in a variety of roles, Scott Vogelgesang, MD, announced last year that he planned to retire. This gave friends, family, and colleagues time to prepare a proper send-off for him late last month.
Everyone met at the Stanley Cafe, on the second floor of Hancher Auditorium, with a view of the setting sun to the west and, later, the moon rising over the Iowa River to the east. Guests helped themselves to appetizers and desserts while they caught up on each other’s lives. Many had not seen each other in some time, some had traveled from states away.
On screens at the front of the room, messages displayed from former residents who worked with Vogelgesang while he was residency program director or former fellows while he was Immunology Division Director. These messages were intercut with family photos and photos from the department’s library stretching back years. That slideshow can be seen here.
After the social hour, Immunology’s Interim Division Director Benjamin Davis, MD, PhD, took the stage to welcome attendees and to offer a few words of praise and thanks to Vogelgesang for his years of devotion to patients in University of Iowa Health Care and his leadership in the department and in the college. He was followed by Joseph Zabner, MD, who described the work Vogelgesang did to transform the Internal Medicine Residency Program from one that regularly had difficulty filling its slots to one of the best and most competitive in the nation.
Zabner was followed by Brittany Bettendorf, MD, a clinical assistant professor in Rheumatology recruited by Vogelgesang. She talked about his exemplary mentorship and support in pursuit of her career goals, most notably when she told him she had been accepted into the University of Iowa’s creative nonfiction writing program. His question to her—”How can I help?”—was one that many other faculty and trainees also cited as a common one from him. Manish Suneja, MD, followed Bettendorf and he thanked Vogelgesang for his guidance in his first years after taking over as Program Director of the residency program. He described the hundreds of program alumni who told him how they benefited from Vogelgesang’s leadership and training at critical junctures in their career development.
A short video then played with contributions from many who could not be there and from some who were. A suggested prompt that they could use to frame their submissions was “I want to be as ________ as Dr. V.” Many former trainees, colleagues, and some family members all wanted to thank “Dr. V” for his years of service and to wish him well in retirement.
Vogelgesang then took the stage and asked, “Who is this guy you have all been talking about?” He shared his gratitude that so many came that evening to celebrate. He thanked his wife and each of his children for their support over the years. “I couldn’t have been luckier,” he said. He proposed a toast to the room and then issued a challenge to all assembled “to encourage each other” when times get difficult.
Davis then presented Vogelgesang with a couple tokens of appreciation, including a photo album with many of the photos that had been on display that evening, memories of his years at Iowa from a grateful institution, changed by his service.
Davis then thanked the guests for attending and encouraged them to linger a little longer and enjoy each other’s company. Many posed for a few more photos as well.