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Lillian Repesh leaves a special imprint

Lillian Repesh, Ph.D.

During her lifetime, University of Minnesota, Duluth alumna Lillian Repesh, Ph.D., contributed immensely to the University and community where she got her start. The beloved associate dean for student affairs and admissions at the Medical School, Duluth campus died of pancreatic cancer on August 20.

The daughter of Italian immigrants, Repesh grew up in Hibbing and received a bachelor’s degree in biology and education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. After becoming one of the first women to earn a Ph.D. in anatomy at the University of North Dakota in 1979, she returned to Duluth, where she enjoyed a 30-plus-year career at the Medical School. Besides her dean positions, Repesh conducted cancer research and worked as a professor of anatomy and cell biology.

“Lil was the quintessential dean of student affairs, an outstanding colleague, and a dear friend,” regional campus dean Gary Davis, Ph.D., said at her funeral. “A tireless advocate for students and student issues, Lil ached when our students ached, cried when they cried, shared their frustrations and occasional anger, laughed when they laughed, and celebrated their celebrations.”

As noted in her obituary published by the Hibbing Daily Tribune, more than “1,500 doctors carry her special imprint: the patients and communities they serve and the profession of medicine as a whole are better off because of her influence.”

To honor Repesh’s legacy, loved ones and colleagues made gifts in her memory to establish the Dr. Lillian Repesh Fund for Student Excellence at the Medical School, Duluth campus. The fund will provide scholarships to medical students with financial need, with preference given to those who are interested in rural family practice and those who are from northeastern Minnesota and begin their medical training in Duluth.

To contribute to the Dr. Lillian Repesh Fund for Student Excellence, contact Heather Heart at or 218-726-6876, or visit www.mmf.

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