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Education alumnus to be recognized for leadership in medical field

by Sal Nudo and the University of Illinois Alumni Association / May 11, 2015

Work of Dale H. Flach has enhanced many lives, according to Alumni Association president

Education alumnus Dale H. Flach will be honored on campus May 15 with the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award. The honor recognizes graduates who demonstrate extraordinary commitment, dedication, and service to the advancement of the University.

Loren R. Taylor, president and CEO of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, said Flach has been an effective leader for positive change on the Urbana-Champaign and Rockford campuses. Over the years, Taylor said, Flach has enriched thousands of lives.

“The concepts he helped make into realities—living/learning environments in campus housing to promote lifelong learning and rural medical education to train doctors who then live and provide healthcare access to under-served communities throughout Illinois—are impressive, altruistic contributions,” Taylor said.

Flach earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1959 and a master’s degree in education in 1964. He began his University career with Residence Halls on the Urbana-Champaign campus and was instrumental in initiating the Allen Hall Unit One program.

“There was a close connection to finishing my master’s degree and starting to work for the U of I,” Flach said. “It really was like a launching pad and the beginning of my many years with the U of I.”

He went on to serve as dean for Student and Alumni Affairs at the then newly formed UI College of Medicine at Rockford, where he leveraged faculty and community partnerships to involve medical students in numerous ways, while developing the student support program.

Flach said that working for a brand-new institution provided the opportunity to innovate, build new traditions, and occasionally make mistakes.

“It was a unique experience, and I enjoyed it thoroughly,” he said.

The Education alumnus was at the forefront of developing the Illinois Rural Medical Education Program to recruit applicants from rural areas throughout downstate Illinois and, following their formal training, have them return as primary care doctors to meet the needs of underserved communities. Flach was involved in virtually all aspects of developing this innovative program, including the establishment of a statewide network of community hospital-based clinical training sites for medical students.

Flach said the common thread throughout his more than 30 years at the University was working in student affairs. Similar to student-teaching Education students who develop lesson plans for the classroom, he said medical students are very focused with their formal education as they move toward residency training and later their careers. 

Now a Champaign resident after living in Rockford for decades, Flach said he discovered, as a representative of the U of I, the impressive stature of the University when he conducted off-campus business. No matter the setting in any community throughout the state, Flach said he always felt proud to represent the U of I. Spending time on both the Urbana and Chicago campuses provided a unique perspective of the University.

“Being affiliated with the U of I, you have almost immediate acceptance as a credible person,” he said. “When you work off campus, you clearly get a view and understanding of the enormous resources of the University. The diversity of educational programs is immense.”