Published: October 31, 2022

In Memoriam: Jack L. Gluckman, MD, AAO-HNS/F President 2000-2001

Jack L. Gluckman, MD, who was known as a natural and charismatic leader, served as President of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and its Foundation (AAO-HNS/F) from 2000-2001.

Jack L. Gluckman, MDJack L. Gluckman, MDJack L. Gluckman, MD, who was known as a natural and charismatic leader, served as President of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and its Foundation (AAO-HNS/F) from 2000-2001.

“Jack was an internationally renowned head and neck cancer surgeon; revered for his integrity and humanistic approach to the care of his patients and their families,” said David L. Steward, MD, Helen Bernice Broidy Professor and Chair, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.  

Dr. Gluckman was Professor-Emeritus of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Cincinnati. He was born and raised in South Africa attending Grey High School in Port Elizabeth and medical school at the University of Cape Town. After completing his otolaryngology residency at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, he joined the faculty at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town and then subsequently entered private practice for several years in Port Elizabeth.

In 1977 Dr. Gluckman moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, for a fellowship in head and neck oncologic surgery and remained on the faculty at the University of Cincinnati (UC). He became Chair of the UC Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in 1991, a post he held through 2004. During his more than 30 years on the faculty, he served in many leadership roles in the UC College of Medicine and at the University Hospital, including Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and the first Chief of the Medical Staff.

“As our leader, he epitomized the ideal of the philosopher king. During his tenure, he attracted outstanding physicians and researchers to the department whom he credited as instrumental in the department’s recognition as one of the finest clinical departments and resident training programs in the country,” said Dr. Steward. 

Dr. Gluckman also provided extraordinary guidance and direction throughout his term as AAO-HNS/F President, but in particular, it was the unforgettable events on 9/11 and his subsequent leadership that marked his presidency. The tragedy of 9/11 occurred on the Tuesday of the AAO-HNSF 2001 Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Gluckman quickly convened the Academy leadership to make the swift decision to cancel the remainder of the meeting. “This was a moment when one saw Jack’s significant leadership qualities,” shared Michael Setzen, MD, Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and who served as the Board of Governors Chair from 2000-2001.

In Dr. Gluckman’s own words published in his profile in the Legacy of Excellence, “What was most impressive was how all the delegates closed ranks and all those without accommodations were found rooms, and those who wanted to leave were able to get a ride to their destinations!”

Beyond the events of 9/11, Dr. Gluckman focused his presidency on improving relationships with other specialties, including plastic surgery and audiology, and more clearly defining scope-of-practice issues. Dr. Setzen recollected proudly, “Jack and I were both thrilled to be at the helm of the AAO-HNS/F, he as AAO-HNS/F President and me as Chair of the Board of Governors, both of South African heritage.” 

In addition to serving as AAO-HNS/F President, Dr. Gluckman also served as President of the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Board member of the American Head and Neck Society, and Vice President of the Triologic Society. Internationally he was Regional Secretary for North America, Mexico, and the Caribbean for the International Federation of Otolaryngologic Societies.

Dr. Steward shared the vast impact Dr. Gluckman had on those who crossed his path. 

“As a leader, scholar, teacher, compassionate physician, skilled and empathetic surgeon, Jack exemplified qualities admired by colleagues around the world. At a local, regional, national, and international level, Dr. Gluckman’s reputation has always been based on his unimpeachable integrity and high standard of ethics by which he comported himself. His service to the specialty and his patients will be missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and patients alike.

“He inspired and mentored many future leaders in the field and taught the importance of taking care of the person rather than just their cancer.  Human dignity was sacrosanct in his mind.  When he reassuringly placed a hand on his patient’s shoulder, he committed to being there throughout their journey, and it made all the difference.” 

More from November 2022 - Vol. 41, No. 10