Alumnus commemorates first graduation with another
Edwin Montgomery, MD ’61, GME ’64, MA ’11, with his wife, Mary Jo, at the Medical College’s 2011 commencement and 50-year reunion.
On an afternoon in which he and his classmates stood before a crowded Milwaukee Theatre to be recognized for 50 years in medicine, Edwin “Bud” Montgomery, MD ’61, GME ’64, MA ’11, had another reason to rise from his chair a short time later. He had a new diploma to receive.
At The Medical College of Wisconsin’s 2011 commencement ceremony on May 20, Dr. Montgomery became the first person in College history to receive a new degree on the same day as his 50th medical school reunion. After two years of study in the College’s Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, Dr. Montgomery earned his Master of Arts in Bioethics from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
“A couple of professors in the program were amused (by the simultaneous accomplishments),” he said. “It was fun to see my old classmates and new classmates, as it were.”
Dr. Montgomery practiced pediatrics full time for 40 years. For more than half of that time, he was with Cedar Mills Medical Group in Cedarburg, Wis. From 1990 on, he was employed by Columbia St. Mary’s – first elected Chief of Staff for St. Mary’s Ozaukee, then for the entire system. Although retired from practice, he still serves as Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Medical College of Wisconsin, and is involved with ethics guidelines and decisions at Columbia St. Mary’s.
“I’ve always had an interest in ethics,” Dr. Montgomery said. “I’ve served on ethics committees and helped start one at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. I’ve been a member with Columbia St. Mary’s, now doing consultations. The background I have just acquired is certainly useful.”
Thomas May, PhD, Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities and Director of the Graduate Program in Bioethics at the Medical College, was Dr. Montgomery’s advisor. He appreciated Dr. Montgomery’s contributions to the program as an involved student.
“Bud offered a valuable perspective in class discussions stemming not only from his significant experience, but also from his open-mindedness and willingness to consider alternate points of view,” Dr. May said. “Bud is never afraid to express when he disagrees, but is very open to reconsidering his opinions and to acknowledge the strengths of other perspectives. These are perhaps the greatest intellectual traits one could possess.”
Aspects of the program that Dr. Montgomery valued most included the collegial and close interaction with the faculty. The opportunity to engage with students from many professional areas – law, social work, medicine – was energizing, and he enjoyed the combination of classroom and online curriculum, he said. The program covers much ground, and Dr. Montgomery was able to explore areas of existing and new-found interest.
“My particular interest was in pediatric ethics, but another issue that I found important was distributed justice and allocation of health care resources,” he said. “I don’t think I learned the answers to that, but I learned how to think about it better.”
His master’s in bioethics is not the first post-medical school degree earned by this living example of lifelong learning. Dr. Montgomery completed his master’s in public health in 1964 at University of California-Berkeley, an effort motivated by his interest in adolescent medicine. In 1990, he received his master’s in business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Since he is not a golfer or tennis player, he said continuing his education is what he enjoyed outside of the office and into retirement.
Dr. Montgomery served this year on his 50th reunion committee with classmate Gilbert Wadina, MD ’61. He is married to Mary Jo. They have five adult children.
Reflecting on a decades-long career in pediatrics in southeastern Wisconsin, Dr. Montgomery says he continues to run into former patients and parents of former patients around town, and frequently is treated to a hug.
“It’s been a huge amount of fun,” he said. “It’s going to sound like a cliché, but it’s been very rewarding. I’m sorry I had to retire when I did, but it was time. I was 70 years old. I miss it more than I thought I would, but the time has been filled by going back to school and earning this degree.”
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