Alumnus receives missing piece of the puzzle: his bachelor’s degree

Dr. Peter Slugg
Dr. Peter Slugg with his Bachelor of Science in Medicine degree from UIC.

Dr. Peter Slugg had an accomplished career as a physician and clinical research director, but in retirement, one accomplishment eluded him: receiving his bachelor’s degree from UIC.

“To me, it’s kind of like a circle with a piece missing,” said Slugg, now 79 and a North Carolina resident. “It’s still a circle, but it’s not complete. It’s been on my mind for years, and it was just something that was personally important to me.”

Slugg attended the university’s Navy Pier campus from 1959 to 1962 on the pre-medicine track. Back then, students could go to the Urbana-Champaign campus to complete their bachelor’s degree or they could go straight to medical school without needing a bachelor’s degree. Slugg went straight to the College of Medicine, graduating in 1966.

After medical school, Slugg completed his internal medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic. He served two years as a medical officer in the U.S. Air Force, then returned to the Cleveland Clinic as a special fellow in hypertension-nephrology. He spent 19 years as a staff member there, then began a second career as director of clinical research at the Bristol Myers Squibb Research and Development facility at Princeton. He retired in 2004.

Still, the thought of never receiving his bachelor’s degree bothered him. So, Slugg reached out to UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis in October to ask whether he could qualify for a bachelor’s degree due to his academic record and his professional achievements.

To look into the request, UIC registrar Rob Dixon took a deep dive into half a century of UIC history and degree-granting rules, with help from Kathleen Kashima, senior associate dean of students in the College of Medicine, and UIC archivist Leanna Barcelona.

“The MD was all that mattered to go forward in those days, but we found that if someone completed the first two years of the pre-medicine track, they would, in certain cases, award the Bachelor of Science in Medicine. Then, students could finish their efforts with the bachelor’s degree if they didn’t complete the MD,” Dixon said. “Discovering the Bachelor of Science in Medicine was this nice surprise.”

After learning that this degree had been available, UIC was able to award Slugg with the Bachelor of Science in Medicine.

“When I can help someone and it can really move the meter in someone’s quality of life, I try to go to bat for them,” Dixon said. “This was an important life event that didn’t occur for Dr. Slugg. He’s done a lot of impressive work in medicine and our Navy Pier graduates are really pioneering, and it’s a fascinating chapter for UIC.”

Dixon called Slugg with the news in November.

“It was really special,” Slugg said. “I was absolutely thrilled and elated. Today’s UIC was a hope and a dream back in the day, and now I feel a real part of it.”

Slugg looks back on his time at the Navy Pier campus fondly.

“When I was young, I knew I wanted to be a doctor, but Navy Pier focused my direction,” he said. “I learned how to learn enormous quantities of material. It helped me in terms of post-grad education and becoming a life-long learner.”

Slugg has stayed connected to the university by being a member of the UIC Alumni Association. He also has donated to the UIC Clifford G. Pilz MD Medical Education Fund.

“Cliff Pilz was a wonderful teacher,” he said. “Some people are really good at teaching or research or patient care. He was all of the above.

“It’s been fun to watch the university grow. I like keeping in touch and seeing what’s going on and will continue to do so.”

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Alumni, Campus