Dr. Alphonse Leure-duPree dies

Dr. Alphonse E. Leure-duPree, former associate dean for academic achievement and professor emeritus of neural and behavioral sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, died recently at Country Meadows Retirement Community.

Leure-duPree retired in 2010 after 37 years of service to Penn State Hershey. He came to the Medical Center and College of Medicine in 1973 as an assistant professor of anatomy. Over the years, he took on a variety of roles including the assistant dean of student affairs and the interim chair of the Department of Anatomy.

One of his most significant accomplishments was his role of promoting diversity in the medical student body. He worked with University Park and state legislature to put into place practices and funding mechanisms to attract highly-qualified under-represented minority students.

“Dr. Leure-duPree touched many lives during his 37 years at the College of Medicine because of his passion for education, research and especially diversity,” said Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, chief executive officer, senior vice president for health affairs, and dean. “He was instrumental in expanding our efforts to recruit and retain outstanding medical students from diverse cultures and experiences. Many students have said his outreach, encouragement and mentoring played a key role in their success not only as a student, but later as a physician.”

Leure-duPree made special efforts to reach out to the students to ensure they had the appropriate mentorship and support to be successful in medical school and often helped launch their careers in medicine.

“Dr. Leure-duPree always was a champion for the medical and graduate students,” said Dr. Chet Berlin, former dean of student affairs. “He wanted them to excel not only as students but also as physicians and scientists after they had received their education at Penn State. Perhaps more than any other faculty member he kept in touch with many students as they traveled on their various careers.

“He was kind, thoughtful and was able to impart his own high standards of scholarship on all -- students and faculty.”

Faculty he influenced includes Dr. Dwight Davis, associate dean for admissions and student affairs. Davis said Leure-duPree was a constant mentor through his years at Penn State Hershey.

“When I came to the Medical Center as a new assistant professor, Dr. Leure-duPree was one of  my mentors,” Davis said. “I often visited with him in my early days here. He provided me with much advice, help and support as I was going through my career here at the Medical Center.”

That relationship continued into Leure-duPree’s retirement.

“On a personal level, it was sad for me when he became ill and left the Medical Center,” Davis said. “I had the good fortune of visiting him on a monthly basis when he was at Country Meadows. He continued to be a wonderful mentor to me. I owe him dearly.”

Leure-duPree also contributed to the educational and research missions in the former Department of Anatomy and current Department of Neural and Behavioral Science. He served as interim chair of the former Department of Anatomy and was co-director of the gross anatomy program for 25 years. His research focused on studies of the visual system emphasizing synaptic organization of the retina by means of light and electron microscopy.

In his time away from the College of Medicine, Leure-duPree had been an avid collector of paintings and lithographs.

Information about services for Leure-duPree will be shared with faculty and staff when it is received.

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Last Updated January 10, 2015