Former USU Presidents

Anthony Curreri

Anthony R. Curreri

1974 to 1976

In 1974, this internationally known thoracic surgeon and oncologist took a three-year leave of absence from the University of Wisconsin to become the first president of the Uniformed Services University. In the Capital region, he was physician to some of the Nation's foremost political names, including the House Speaker, Sam Rayburn.

Curreri was born on September 18, 1909, in Brooklyn, New York. He took a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master of Arts degree, and a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Wisconsin. During the following two years, Dr. Curreri interned at Columbia and Children's Hospitals, both in Milwaukee. He then practiced general medicine at Isle Royale, Michigan before returning to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals. He remained with the University of Wisconsin system until he joined USU.

Curreri served in the US Army Reserve from 1936 to 1939 as a First Lieutenant; the Wisconsin National Guard from 1939 to 1944 as a Captain; and the US Army Reserve again from 1945 to 1958, advancing from Major to Colonel. He was a mobilization designee in Surgery, US Army, from 1953 to 1970. Duty included time in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

In 1973, Dr. Curreri was appointed to the USU Board of Regents. In January, 1974, he relinquished the Vice Chancellor position at the University of Wisconsin to become the first president of USU. After the enrollment of the charter class at USU in 1976, he returned to the University of Wisconsin. He resumed his position as the Evan P. Halfaer Distinguished Professor of Surgery and was also appointed Associate Director of Education at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison.

Dr. Curreri was a member of 22 professional organizations, including the Society of Sigma Xi; four editorial and advisory boards; the Board of Thoracic Surgery (1959 to 1964); and the National Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society (1952 to 1954). He served as president of the Society of Medical Consultants to the Armed Forces; the Wisconsin Surgical Society (1962 to 1963); and the Wisconsin Division of the American Cancer Society (1950 to 1952). He held consultative positions to four foreign universities and 22 US institutions, 13 with the Public Health Service; 3 with the Department of Defense; 4 with the American College of Surgeons; and 2 with the American Cancer Society. He was also a visiting professor of 16 American universities and schools. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin; the Outstanding Alumnus Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Wisconsin; the Bronze Medal of the American Cancer Society; the Shahbanou of Iran Gold Medal; the Lila Motley Foundation Award; the Decoration of Commander to the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic; and so many other awards and honors that they are too numerous to list. Anthony R. Curreri died at the age of 69 on May 3, 1979, in Madison.

David Packard


1976 to 1981

A former Deputy Secretary of Defense (1969 to 1971), co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and self-made multi-billionaire, David Packer acted as University president from 1976 to 1981. He was also chairman of the Board of Regents from 1973 to 1982.

David Packer was born in Pueblo, Colorado on September 7, 1912. Packard enrolled at Stanford University in 1930 where he did well academically. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and perhaps most notably, selected by the now-legendary educator Fred Terman to take a graduate course in radio engineering. Packard was the first undergraduate to be invited to take this graduate offering. Packard finished school at Stanford, the first time, in the spring of 1934, with a Bachelor's Degree. He then took some fall quarter courses at the University of Colorado at Boulder before reporting for work. This employment began in February 1935 at the General Electric Company (GE) in Schenectady, New York. It was here that he became convinced that his "management by walking around" was a sound management concept.

David Packard left GE in August of 1938, returning to Stanford to acquire a second degree in electrical engineering. He and his wife rented a house at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto. It was in the garage at the back of this house that Packard and William R. Hewlett, with capital of $538, began part-time work in 1938. In January of the next year, a partnership between Packard and Hewlett was formed. A coin toss decided the name of the company. In 1989, the garage was designated by the state of California as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Immensely successful as a businessman, Packard turned to public life in 1969. Following the election of Richard M. Nixon in 1968, the President appointed Melvin R. Laird as Secretary of Defense. Laird, in turn, chose David Packard to be his Deputy Secretary. It was a successful pairing. The Laird-Packard team, according to the Washington Press Corps, was the best leadership team in the history of the Pentagon. 

Honors for Mr. Packard were many. They included The Medal of Freedom (the country's highest civilian award), the Grand Cross of Merit from the Republic of Germany, honorary degrees from six universities, including one from USU, and at USU a building and a lectureship named in his honor. He was director of several corporations and a member (and often the chairman) of many business, educational, environmental, and government associations and commissions. He served as Council of Directors Chairman of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine from 1983 to 1991. David Packard died at the age of 83 in Palo Alto, California, on March 26, 1996.

Jay Philip Sanford


1981 to 1990

Dr. Jay P. Sanford was USU's third president and the first dean of the School of Medicine. He was an expert in infectious diseases, whose “Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy” is still one of the world's most widely read medical references. Dr. Sanford entered the Army in 1954 and served at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research for two years before leaving active duty. He remained in the Army Reserve and retired as a Colonel as part of the 11th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He also briefly served in the U.S. Public Health Service.

Dr. Sanford began his academic career at Duke University before moving to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, where he served on the Department of Medicine faculty and as chief of Infectious Diseases. He simultaneously served as chief of the bacteriology lab at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and established a cooperative program with Brooke Army Medical Center to train UTSWC students in disaster medicine. In 1975, he was selected to be the founding dean of the USU School of Medicine. Dr. Sanford was actively involved in the classroom and in-field exercises, and was often found rappelling down the side of Building A with students. He maintained close contact with students and faculty, creating an indelible bond and resulting in a fierce allegiance to him. During his professional career, Dr. Sanford received 35 appointments and consultantships, was affiliated with 27 professional societies and offices, held 15 editorial positions, presented at least 33 named visiting lectures, authored nearly 200 original manuscripts and reviews, created 147 textbook chapters, wrote or edited seven books, directed and produced three teaching films, and authored 39 editorials, book reviews and monographs. He served as President of both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He was a master in the American College of Physicians and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (Institute of Medicine). He had two lectureships, a Chair in Tropical Medicine, and the principal auditorium at USU named in his honor. Dr. Sanford passed away in October 1996 at the age of 68.

James A. Zimble


1991 to 2004

As a former US Navy Surgeon General, Dr. James Allen Zimble was selected in 1991 to be University President at USU. He was a part of the US Navy for 35 years.

James Zimble was born on October 12, 1933, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but was reared in Little Rock, Arkansas. In his preschool years, he decided he would be a doctor. At thirteen, he and his family relocated back to Philadelphia. In 1955, Zimble graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA with a Bachelor of Science degree. Also in 1955, he became a student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. After one year, he entered the Naval Reserve as an ensign and received, three years later, a Doctor of Medicine degree.

In 1959, Zimble interned for a year at the U.S. Naval Hospital at St. Albans, New York. He then trained in undersea medicine at the US Navy Deep Sea Diving, Submarine, & Nuclear Power Schools, and attended the Special Radiation Control & Health Physics course. As the submarine medical officer for commissioning crew of the USS John Marshall, he received his Submarine Medical Qualification. Dr. Zimble returned to St. Albans in 1963 for residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN). He completed this in 1966 and was assigned, from 1966 to 1970, to the OB/GYN staff at the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, California. After a year and half spent hospitalized recovering from a motor vehicle accident, ZImble was on staff for two years at the US Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Zimble was then sent to the Naval Hospital in Lemoore, California, where he was the Chief of OB/GYN and the Director of Clinical Service. He remained there from 1972 to 1976. From 1976 to 1978, he was assigned as Director of Clinical Services at the Naval Regional Medical Center in Long Beach, California. Following this, and until 1981, he was Commanding Officer of the Naval Regional Medical Center in Orlando, Florida.

In 1981, Dr. Zimble was promoted to flag rank and was sent to be "The Medical Officer" (TMO) of the US Marine Corps at their headquarters. In 1983, RADM Zimble became Fleet Surgeon and Medical Advisor to Supreme Allied Command, Atlantic Fleet. In 1986, RADM Zimble was appointed as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategic Planning & Medical Program Management in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense. Zimble was also the Executive Secretary of the Department’s Advisory Committee on Graduate Medical Education. In 1987, this "two star" was promoted to Vice Admiral and became Surgeon General of the Navy. In this role, Zimble was the principal medical advisor to the Department of the US Navy. He was responsible for developing and establishing overall Naval health care policies and priorities, contingency and wartime planning, and program development. This was in support of more than 2.8 million Navy and Marine Corps active duty and retired beneficiaries and their families.

Honors and awards for Dr. Zimble include an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of New York at Syracuse, the Surgeon General's Medal, the Frank Brown Berry Prize in Federal Health Care, the Public Health Service Surgeon's Medallion, the Army Order of Military Merit Medal, the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the US Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Naval Reserve Association Distinguished Service Award, the Department of Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (three awards), the Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Department of Navy Meritorious Service Medal, the Department of Navy Commendation Medal, and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States Founder's Medal. He presented the USU Faculty Senate Packard Lecture, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Ash Lecture. Dr. Zimble was a member, fellow, or delegate of 15 professional associations; served as Chairman or Director of three executive level committees; and served as a member of 13 others. He died in New London, Connecticut at the age of 78 on December 14th, 2011.


Charles L. Rice


2005 to 2015

Charles L. Rice, M.D., was sworn in as USU's fifth president on July 1, 2005. Prior to his appointment, Rice, a Navy-trained surgeon and researcher, served as the vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Illinois, Chicago, from 1999 to 2004. He also previously served as vice dean of the UIC College of Medicine, as well as a professor of surgery and professor of physiology and biophysics.

Originally from Atlanta, Ga., Dr. Rice graduated with an A.B. from the University of Georgia in 1964 and earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 1968. He interned at Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. He completed his general surgery residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., followed by a research fellowship at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda.

His research interests, many funded by the National Institutes of Health, were in the biology of lung injury and in mechanisms of cell and tissue injury in shock. His clinical focuses were in trauma and critical care. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Surgical Association and the Society of University Surgeons, and was a past president of the Shock Society. Dr. Rice was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow and served as a Legislative Assistant to Senator Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD) from 1991 to 1992. During that time he also served as the Surgeon to the President of the United States. He was a member of the Board of the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education from 1998 to 2004 and served as its Chair from 2002 to 2004.

Dr. Rice was commissioned as an ensign in the Naval Reserve Medical Corps in 1966. Three years later, he transferred into the regular Navy and quickly rose through the ranks. He left active duty, but remained in the Naval Reserve, through which he was promoted to Captain in 1991. He retired in 2003. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit.

In addition to appointments at the University of Chicago, Dr. Rice has served on the faculty of the University of Washington and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He has spoken widely to a variety of national audiences, and has authored numerous scientific papers, abstracts, and medical texts. Dr. Rice is a member of numerous professional organizations and health policy groups, and is a recognized leader in American academic medicine.

Dr. Richard W. Thomas



2016 to 2021

Dr. Richard W. Thomas was the sixth President of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.  Dr. Thomas retired from the Army in May 2016 at the rank of Major General.  He is a physician and dentist whose last assignment before appointment was as Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Defense Health Agency Healthcare Operations Directorate.

Dr. Thomas graduated from West Virginia University (WVU) on an ROTC scholarship in 1981. He was a graduate of the WVU School of Dentistry and served in the U.S. Army Dental Corps before receiving his Doctor of Medicine degree from the WVU School of Medicine in 1994. He earned a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2006. He completed his internship at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and residency in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Washington.

Among his many military assignments, Dr. Thomas served as the Surgeon General for the U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, and Senior Medical Advisor for the International Security Assistance Forces Joint Command – Afghanistan; assistant Army Surgeon General for Force Projection; and commander of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky. He has deployed in support of Operation Just Cause, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Dr. Thomas previously served as the Commanding General of Western Regional Medical Command; Chief, U.S. Army Medical Corps and Senior Market Executive for TRICARE Puget Sound Multi-Service Market. Thomas also served as the director of the Department of Surgery Research Program at Madigan Army Medical Center, and held a faculty appointment as clinical associate professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also served as adjunct faculty and staff surgeon at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and American Lake Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Tacoma. 

Dr. Thomas’ honors and awards include, Defense Superior Service Medal; Army Distinguished Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster); Legion of Merit (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters); Bronze Star Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster) and various other commendations and campaign awards. He holds the Surgeon General's "A" Proficiency Designator, is a Distinguished Member of the AMEDD Regiment and Member of the Order of Military Medical Merit. Dr. Thomas has been recognized with the Murtha Memorial Award for Leadership in Military Medicine, the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s Board of Director’s Award and American Academy of Pain Medicine Philipp M. Lippe, MD Award.