N. L. (“Neal”) Gault Jr., M.D., beloved former dean and alumnus of the University of Minnesota Medical School, died December 11 of pancreatic cancer at his St. Paul home. He was 88.
“We are saddened at the loss of Neal Gault, who was a devoted advocate for our Medical School and its students throughout his tenure as dean and well into his retirement,” says Medical School Dean Deborah Powell, M.D. “During his time as a student and faculty member, he inspired countless classmates, colleagues, and students; established partnerships with medical schools across the world; advocated tirelessly for medical students; and healed patients from all walks of life.”
A member of the Class of 1950 and dean of the Medical School from 1972 to 1984, Gault was known for his commitment to students, especially for helping them deal with the financial pressures of medical school. On a few occasions, he had even offered cash to students when they were flat broke. This commitment led Gault and his wife, Sarah, a University alumna and physician who died in 1994, to create several funds to help medical students finance their education.
In addition to his devotion to students, Gault also was passionate about facilitating international collaborations. In the wake of the Korean War, Gault and his family lived in Seoul, where he helped to rebuild the medical education system while at Seoul National University. This visit sparked the Medical School’s first international collaboration, a partnership that continues to flourish today.
Gault provided exemplary service and leadership to the Minnesota Medical Foundation, serving on its board of trustees from 1959 to 1992, and he continued to raise philanthropic support for scholarships and research for many years thereafter. He also served on the Medical Alumni Society Board from 1973 to 1991 and as a mentor for medical students long after his retirement in 1996.
Additionally, Gault helped establish the world’s first endowed chair in sexual health at the University and served on the leadership advisory council for the Program in Human Sexuality.
Among his many awards were the University of Minnesota Alumni Service Award, presented to him in August of 2008; the Harold S. Diehl Award, the highest award given by the Medical Alumni Society; the University’s Outstanding Achievement Award; and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, given by the emperor of Japan in 1992. He was also made honorary alumnus of Seoul National University College of Medicine in 1994.
A memorial service was held January 16 at the University of Minnesota’s Mayo Auditorium. In lieu of flowers, Gault requested that memorials be directed to the Drs. Neal and Sarah Gault Medical Student International Study Fund through the Minnesota Medical Foundation.