- Executive Vice Chancellor, KU Medical Center and Executive Dean, KU School of Medicine
- Only woman in the country to simultaneously lead a School of Medicine and an academic medical center
- Member of the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine
- First woman and Cytopathologist elected President of the American Board of Pathology
- Founding board member of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program of the Association of the American Medical Colleges
Dr. Barbara Atkinson, Executive Vice Chancellor, KU Medical Center and Executive Dean, KU School of Medicine, has paved the way for women in medicine through her visionary leadership, standard of excellence, support of women coming up the ranks and commitment to her profession. She is the only woman to in the country to simultaneously lead a School of Medicine and an academic medical center.
Dr. Atkinson received her bachelor’s degree from Wooster University in Ohio. It was not until many years later, after her children started kindergarten, that Dr. Atkinson returned to school to pursue her degree in medicine. Attending medical school as a wife and young mother in the early 1970’s was challenging and remarkable, especially as this was a time in which women were not particularly welcome in the field of medicine and were in a significant minority. Due to her determination and hard work, she persevered and received her degree. Following numerous internships and fellowships, she began her academic career as Assistant Professor of Pathology at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She held numerous positions at the University of Pennsylvania prior to joining the faculty at the KU Medical Center in 1999.
Her honors and awards are notable and too extensive to enumerate in their entirety. Suffice it to say that she has received local and national acclaim for her accomplishments and contributions. Dr. Atkinson is a respected pathologist and member of the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine, which provides guidance on national health issues. In addition, she is a Life Trustee and past president of the American Board of Pathology, the first woman and cytopathologist to be elected to this position. She is widely recognized as a mentor to women in her department and in her profession. Karen Miller, Senior Vice Chancellor and Dean, KU School of Nursing, states, “…I work closely with Dr. Atkinson and I see on a daily basis how strongly she believes in mentoring women and improving cultural diversity. She has increased the resources on the medical center campus for activities highlighting diversity and women’s issues. One of her shining achievements is being a founding board member of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program of the Association of the American Medical Colleges, the nation’s only in-depth program devoted to promoting women in leadership roles in academic medicine and dentistry.”
A landmark achievement is her work in leading the medical center to become a national cancer center as designated by the National Cancer Institute. This effort has and will continue to provide vital funding to the state to support cutting-edge research and the development of much-needed services. She has also increased the prominence and quality of the program by strengthening the curriculum. Dr. Robert Hemenway, Chancellor, KU, states, “Dr Atkinson is a visionary leader for the KU Medical Center and believes in the strength of her convictions. She is a partner with other Kansas City leaders to help transform the region into a nationally recognized center for health sciences. In a field dominated by men, Dr. Atkinson is a strong voice for thinking ahead and preparing for the future. She is never satisfied with maintaining the status quo.