Vermont Medicine Hits the Half-Century Mark: Looking Back at a 50-Year Record

VM 50 Opening Image

By Ed Neuert

Strapped into a passenger seat of a twin-engine aircraft a few hundred feet above White Plains, N.Y., John Mazuzan, M.D.’54, certainly had no time to think of the next 50 years stretching out ahead of him. Having another 50 minutes guaranteed would have been more than enough.

It was the spring of 1964, and Mazuzan, who’d only recently returned to Burlington to practice anesthesiology, had joined a group of College of Medicine alumni that called themselves the “alumni raiders,” as they crisscrossed the nation soliciting their fellow graduates in the effort to raise funds to complete the College’s building program, which would eventually produce the Given Medical Alumni complex. On this particular evening, Mazuzan accompanied John Maeck, M.D.’39 and Win Eddy, M.D.’45, on a round of visits to alumni in New York City and Hartford. Their day done, the group took off from Westchester County Airport at midnight, bound for Vermont. One engine of the small plane soon sputtered, and their pilot skillfully turned back and landed safely. Assuring his passengers that it had only been an easily solved problem of water vapor in their fuel line, the pilot quickly made some adjustments, and they were once again airborne.

“Then I turned to John Maeck in the seat beside me,” recalls Mazuzan, “And I said ‘why is he yelling Mayday?’” “Listen,” said Maeck. It was more a matter of what couldn’t be heard: the engine had now completely failed. They again turned back. After one harrowing missed pass, the plane finally bumped down safely on the runway. The shaken group switched to a car.

A few weeks later, on another fundraising visit, the team heard a fellow alumnus complain that “the College only contacts me when it wants my money.”

“That’s not true anymore,” said Maeck, pointing at Mazuzan. “He’s going to start producing a College magazine to keep you informed.”

“And that’s how it all began,” says Mazuzan. “Within a few months I was laying out the first issue at the old Lane Press building on Pine Street, standing next to the Linotype machine.” Mazuzan wasn’t sure what to call the magazine so, as a placeholder, he slugged in the title “Hall A,” the name of the College’s main lecture hall. “I couldn’t come up with another name by press time, so we just kept it in,” he says. Fifty years later that magazine, now known as Vermont Medicine, stands as one of the oldest continuously published medical school magazines in the nation.

Mazuzan was the obvious choice to spearhead founding a publication since, as he puts it, “It was well-known that I had printer’s ink in my blood.” His father had owned and edited the Northfield (Vt.) News & Advertiser for many years, and young John had grown up running proofs in the shop, and writing short news and sport pieces from his early teens. He had even covered General Eisenhower’s visit to Norwich University in 1946 for the paper, and had seen his write-up go national on the Associated Press wire.

“I don’t know how I took on creating a magazine and still maintained a full-time practice,” he says. He soon began to receive some help from the University’s public relations office, but stayed on the magazine’s masthead as editor until the late 1970s.

Five decades after the first issue rolled off the presses, the magazine has gone through several editorial and production changes. Originally an 8-inch square, it moved up to a full size publication in the early 1980s. Color came to its pages in 2001, as did a name change, since the readership had broadened to include recipients who had never sat in the Hall A lecture hall, which itself became a thing of the past a few years ago. (The alumni news and notes section, in tribute, retains the old lecture hall name.)

In the following pages, and through articles available on the Vermont Medicine website, readers can get a glimpse of the changing life of the College of Medicine from the 1960s to today. Even more important are the clear indications of what hasn’t changed — the work to educate students and produce research that serves patients and the community.

Web Extra: See the full stories featured in the magazine, plus many added articles from the past 50 years.