Dr. William Anlyan, renowned innovator and leader of Duke Medical Center, died Sunday at the age of 90.

Anlyan served as the dean of the School of Medicine from 1964 until 1989, and under his leadership, Duke grew to become one of the top medical institutions in the United States. During his lifelong career at Duke, Anlyan oversaw construction of the Duke University Hospital, and his major contributions included expansion of research, teaching and clinical facilities by 2.5 million square feet. Anlyan was the first to assume the title of chancellor of health affairs in 1983, a position that has since been held by three others.

“Bill Anlyan was a towering, beloved figure in the history of Duke Health,” wrote Dr. A. Eugene Washington, chancellor for health affairs and president of Duke University Health System, in an email. “There is simply no question that the health enterprise at Duke would not be the world-class institution that it is today without Bill’s vision and leadership. We share in his family’s loss and are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. His was indeed a life well-lived.”

Anlyan first came to Duke in 1949 for a residency program in general and thoracic surgery. For more than a decade, he rose through the ranks to become an assistant professor of surgery, associate professor and finally full professor in 1961. Three years later he became dean of the medical school, a position he held for 25 years.

Anlyan’s colleagues and successors credit him with bringing national and international acclaim to Duke and its medical center.

Flags around campus were lowered Sunday to respect his passing.

“He took the helm of a very good regional school, but under his leadership, it rose in stature so that it was recognized as one of the top tier medical institutions in the country,” said Ralph Snyderman, James B. Duke professor of medicine and Anlyan’s successor in 1989. “Bill had a very broad horizon, and he brought people from around the world here, so that Duke became a very familiar institution and a very familiar name.”

Anlyan was one of the founding members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the first chairman of the Council of Deans for the Association of American Medical Colleges. He was a recipient of the Duke Medical Alumni Association’s inaugural lifetime achievement award in 1995 and of the Abraham Flexner Award for his work in medical education.

As he chaired and served on a number of the North Carolina governor’s committees on health-related objectives, Anlyan’s influence extended throughout the state. His work with the World Health Organization and as the U.S. delegate in international conferences in Poland, Japan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia also left an impact on international medical affairs.

“Dr. Anlyan drove Duke to the very front ranks of academic medical centers,” wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email. “As dean and then chancellor, he made Duke a model for the integration of medical education, research and clinical care through new programs, buildings and, most importantly, people.”

Snyderman also pointed to Anlyan’s recruitment of outstanding faculty and staff as one of his biggest contributions to the University.

“I would give Bill a lot of credit for keeping the bar very high in terms of the quality of people we brought in and maintained, and the level of quality of the medical school,” Snyderman said.

Snyderman added that Anlyan was a “gentle, honest individual” and a large source of support during his own tenure as chancellor for health affairs.

“William Anlyan will go down at Duke as one of its true giants, particularly as it relates to its medical center. Bill devoted most of his life to Duke,” Snyderman said. “He has left a legacy for this institution that will live very very long into the future.”

Correction: This story was updated to correctly attribute Schoenfeld's quote. An earlier version of the story attributed the quote to Nancy Andrews, dean of the School of Medicine. The Chronicle regrets the error.