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Elethea H. Caldwell, ’73M (Res)

Elethea CaldwellDr. Elethea (Lee) Caldwell is Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. A retired plastic surgeon, her clinical practice focused on the care of children with congenital deformities, specifically cleft lips and palates. Her other areas of interest involved the care of patients with breast and hand deformities, as well as patients suffering from burn injuries.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Dr. Caldwell received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1962. She returned to her hometown and received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in 1966. Dr. Caldwell went on to complete her internship and her residencies in general surgery and plastic surgery at the University of Rochester. In 1973, she was appointed assistant professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery, where she remained a faculty member for 30 years. In conjunction with her academic duties, Dr. Caldwell served respectively as associate surgeon and senior associate surgeon at Strong Memorial Hospital. She was medical director of the Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center from 1992 to 2000 and served concurrently as director of Ambulatory Care in the Department of Surgery.

Throughout her career, Dr. Caldwell has held numerous leadership posts. She was the inaugural chair of the Committee on the Status of Women and served for five years as councillor of the Alpha Omega Alpha, Zeta Chapter of the University of Rochester. Retired in 2003, she continues to teach in the anatomy lab and serves as a Problem Based Learning tutor for first- and second-year medical students.

Loyal supporters of medical education, Dr. Caldwell and her husband, retired general surgeon Robert L. Caldwell, ’61M (MD), ’69M (Res), established the Drs. Robert L. and Elethea H. Caldwell Endowed Medical Merit Scholarship in 2011 to support a liberal arts student who is seeking a medical degree. They have also gifted several other School of Medicine and Dentistry funds as well, including the Robert L. Caldwell Summer Internship. The Caldwells are members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society.

Among her many academic and professional awards, Dr. Caldwell was honored by the Class of 1979 as an alumnus member of the Rochester chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha. Since 1999, the University has awarded in her honor the Elethea H. Caldwell, M.D. Plastic Surgery Integrated Residents Teaching Award, given annually to an outstanding member of the surgical faculty. Dr. Caldwell is also the recipient of the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Division of Plastic Surgery. A former member of the board of trustees at Wilson College, she received its Distinguished Alumna Award in 2012.

Married for 43 years, The Caldwells have two grown sons, Robert Jr. and James. They divide their time between family homes in Scottsville, New York, and Florida.