In Memoriam: Brenda Armstrong, 1949-2018

Brenda Armstrong, senior associate dean for student diversity, recruitment, and retention at Duke University School of Medicine, died on October 7 at the age of 69.

Before serving as senior associate dean, Dr. Armstrong spent 20 years as associate dean for admissions for the Duke University School of Medicine. During her tenure, she was responsible for recruiting the most diverse classes in the school’s history. In 2017, she was inducted into the Student National Medical Association Hall of Fame.

In addition to her administrative roles, Dr. Armstrong was also a professor in the department of pediatrics. She was the second Black woman in the United States to become a board-certified pediatric cardiologist.

“Brenda Armstrong leaves an enduring legacy of leadership, service and exceptional academic and professional productivity,” said Dr. Ann Reed, the Samuel L. Katz Professor of Pediatrics, chair of the department of pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Duke Children’s. “She exemplifies the power of education, dedication to children and passion for equality. She will leave a part of herself in all of us who have had the privilege to work and learn with her.”

Dr. Armstrong earned her bachelor’s degree from Duke University, where she was one of the first African-American students to attend the institution as an undergraduate. She earned her medical doctorate at Saint Louis University School of Medicine where she was the only Black woman student for three of her four years there.


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