Bulletin News

Graduate Named to Academic Hall of Fame


William C. Baerthlein, M.D., a 1976 SUNY Cortland graduate and physician whose scholarship and expertise on methods for delivering babies has greatly influenced reproductive medicine, will be inducted into the SUNY Cortland Academic Hall of Fame next month.

Baerthlein, who in the 1980s wrote the definitive paper comparing maternal and neonatal outcomes following forceps and vacuum delivery methods, will be recognized on Monday, March 5, during the President’s List reception.

William Baerthlein '76, M.D.

During the program, Baerthlein will give a keynote speech on “Serendipity in Science, Life and Mentorship.”

Created in 2006, the Academic Hall of Fame recognizes SUNY Cortland alumni who graduated 10 or more years ago with magna cum laude or higher honors, and who have made significant contributions to society through their chosen professions. The Hall of Fame wall is located in the Dorothea “Dottie” Kreig Allen Fowler ’52, M ’74 Old Main Grand Entrance Hall.

Last year, the College honored Robert J. McMahon, managing editor for the Council on Foreign Relations, who has dedicated his career to presenting complex subjects with even-handed clarity to help create a better understanding of America’s role in the world.

This year, Baerthlein of Gouverneur, N.Y., will be the 17th graduate inducted into the Hall of Fame not only for his groundbreaking medical research but for having delivered outstanding gynecological and obstetrical services in 14 states and five different countries during his service with the U.S. Navy. He delivered more than 3,000 babies during his 33-year career. Baerthlein also served his country more than 30 years as an active or reserve U.S. Navy officer. He continues with his volunteer work, which has often involved mentoring future physicians.

“Dr. Baerthlein’s career has capitalized on his strengths, contributed to the medical field with seminal research and he continues to build and educate the leaders of tomorrow,” said Steven Broyles, chair of Biological Sciences at SUNY Cortland, among the people who nominated Baerthlein for the Academic Hall of Fame. “He has served his country proudly and continues to serve his alma mater.”            

The Pawling, N.Y., native graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1976. Notably, at Cortland he led a team of classmates on a two-year study of sperm-egg chemotaxis in the African Clawed frog that was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Baerthlein earned his medical degree, with honors, from Baylor College of Medicine in 1981. Elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, he was the Baylor chapter president his senior year and received many student awards for his surgical scholarship.

After earning his medical degree, Baerthlein completed his residency in obstetrics-gynecology at the University of Rochester and spent an additional year there on a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility with a faculty appointment as assistant professor of ob-gyn. His honors there included the 1985 Rochester Academy of Medicine Obstetrics-Gynecology Section Award for research that “contributed to the progress of medicine.”

Baerthlein co-authored research papers, including one cited in a number of editions of Williams Obstetrics, the definitive text in the field. In 1986, his published research in Obstetrics and Gynecology, the specialty’s premiere journal, received international recognition and was identified as an important advance in infertility treatment. One area of his published research involved a technique for preparing sperm for intrauterine insemination that significantly advanced infertility treatment.

Baerthlein completed more than 30 years of combined active and reserve U.S. Naval service, retiring as a captain. While stationed at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., from 1986 to 1989, he headed its Gynecology Division and was the department’s quality assurance officer. He served as executive officer of the Rapidly Deployable Medical Force in support of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic.

Next, Baerthlein was stationed at Naval Hospital Bremerton (Wash.), where until 1993 he was obstetrical coordinator for the newly re-established Family Medicine Residency Training Program.

Leaving active duty, Baerthlein was an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics-gynecology at Dartmouth Medical School from 1994 to 1999. He was part of the team instrumental in establishing Dartmouth’s obstetrics-gynecology residency training program. The school honored him with a teaching award.

In 2000, Baerthlein was recalled to active duty in the Navy and served in Italy and Iceland. In 2014, Baerthlein retired as a captain in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve after serving as head of obstetrics-gynecology at the Naval Reserve Fleet Hospital, Great Lakes. He worked as a volunteer for the Veteran’s Administration and mentored U.S. Navy scholarship recipients at Albany Medical College. Baerthlein is a life member of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States.

He retired in 2012 as a physician at E.J. Noble Hospital (now Gouverneur Hospital) in Gouverneur, N.Y., having also served as president of the hospital’s medical staff.

A longtime volunteer for his alma mater, he has served since 2007 on the Cortland College Foundation Board of Directors, most recently on its finance committee and as liaison to the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association. Twice he has mentored students in the College’s Alumni-Undergraduate Science Symposium.

 “The world-class education I received at SUNY Cortland and the professors I interacted with, some becoming lifelong friends, were integral to the successes I enjoyed during my career,” Baerthlein said.

SUNY Cortland will formally induct Baerthlein into its Academic Hall of Fame during the semi-annual President’s List ceremony, which honors the College’s students who achieve grades of A-minus or better in each of their courses for a given semester, in this case Fall 2017.

SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum will open the reception, which will recognize 513 students this year. The President’s List reception, which includes the honorees’ parents and other guests, begins at 3:15 p.m. in the Corey Union Function Room, with the award ceremony starting at 4 p.m.