Neurology pays tribute to beloved educator, clinician with named education center

June 20, 2023
Smiling woman in a blue dress cuts a blue ribbon with a pair of scissors. People behind her are watching and smiling, too.
Becky Pritchard, center, joins Neurology Chair Dr. Jonathan Edwards, left, colleagues, staff and family on June 9 for the opening and dedication of the Dr. Paul B. Pritchard III Neurology Education Center. Photos by Zheng Chia

A little more than a month after his passing, MUSC leadership, colleagues and family members gathered to honor the memory and career of clinician, educator, mentor and friend Paul B. Pritchard III, M.D., with the opening and ceremonial naming of the Dr. Paul B. Pritchard III Neurology Education Center. The unit is located in Suite 429 of the MUSC Clinical Science Building. 

Dr. Pritchard was remembered for his many contributions to the Department of Neurology. For 52 years, he was a dedicated clinician, educator and mentor, preparing the next generation of physicians and neurology specialists in the areas of physical diagnosis, clinical neurology and careers in medicine. He was also recognized for many leadership roles in his career from neurology clerkship director and course director of the neurology section to chairman of the neurology residency committee. He also served as the program’s longest-serving neurology residency program director until 2010.

A doctor in a white coat talks with a large group of people in a classroom. 
Dr. Edwards tours members of the Pritchard family around the new facility, which includes a large teaching room and dedicated learning spaces for students, residents and fellows.

MUSC President David Cole, M.D., FACS, honored Dr. Pritchard for his dedication, enthusiasm and passion for his patients and advancing neurology education at MUSC. For some, according to Cole, Dr. Prichard was considered a founding father of modern neurology and evidence-based epilepsy patient care in South Carolina.

“Paul dedicated his career and service to MUSC, the state of South Carolina and the MUSC family for almost five decades. It’s rare that someone believed in and stayed with an organization for that amount of time, and I think it says a lot about his passion for patient care and our mission," Cole said.

A doctor in a white coat listens as a woman wearing a purple top speaks. Her son is by her side. He has a beard and is wearing blue and black. 
Karen St. Marie and her son Erick were invited to speak at the dedication. Erick was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2007 and was among hundreds of patients who received care from Dr. Pritchard and the clinical neurology team.

"And although he formally retired from MUSC in 2019, I find it a testament to his fine character and commitment to the education of future neurologists that when asked, he couldn’t quite stay away and agreed to continue imparting his vast knowledge and expertise with students, residents, fellows and APP fellows. On behalf of the MUSC senior leadership team, we thank Paul for his incredible and critical service and hope he and his loved ones know how grateful we and the citizens of our state have been blessed by his presence and warm heart."

A laughing woman in a blue dress talks with two men in white doctor's coats. 
Becky Pritchard and Dr. Jonathan Edwards share a moment with College of Medicine Dean Terry Steyer at the event. Establishment of the Dr. Paul B. Pritchard III Neurology Education Center was years in the making thanks to collaborative support of leadership from multiple areas.

The MUSC Department of Neurology is the only program in the state that offers a comprehensive stroke center and Level 4 epilepsy center with surgical capabilities for specialized patient care. The new neurology education center is part of a dedicated space designed to be modern, inviting and open in concept. It is composed of common and separate spaces – a large open concept teaching room; imaging and diagnostic room; common learning spaces for students, residents and fellows; as well as a student lounge, staff offices, quiet spaces, plus a central referral hub to manage clinical neurological services offered throughout the adult and pediatric hospitals. 

At the June 9 dedication, Jonathan Edwards, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology, welcomed guests and unveiled a plaque with an engraved portrait of Dr. Pritchard on it. Edwards also presented a duplicate plaque to Dr. Pritchard’s widow, Becky Pritchard, and the family, who also attended the midday event before officially opening the facility to guests.

A group of more than a dozen people pose for a photo. 
Dr. Edwards, left, top row, joins members of Dr. Paul Pritchard’s family, which include his wife, children and their spouses and granddaughters.

“This new center for neurology education will serve as a central hub for the education of medical students, residents and fellows in neurology. For Dr. Pritchard’s devotion and commitment to patient care and research, we’re so proud to name the center after our friend, colleague and role model in neurology education,” said Edwards.

South Carolina Advocates for Epilepsy, SAFE founder Karen St. Marie and her son, Erick, spoke about the new center’s impact for physicians and clinical teams on behalf of patients and families who received care under Dr. Pritchard. 

Plaque shows photo of a man and says in grateful appreciation and distinguished recognition of devotion and commitment to neurology education, patient care, and research we dedicate the neurology center in honor of Dr. Paul B. Pritchard III, June 9, 2023 
The dedication plaque hangs near the entrance of the new center. It features an image of the center’s namesake.

“Erick has been a patient of Dr. Pritchard after suffering from epileptic seizures in March 2007 up until his retirement,” said St. Marie. “What a gift Dr. Pritchard was to us. He was someone who was truly passionate about what he did and was dedicated to helping his patients. He supported us in every way. It was he, Dr. Edwards and others who encouraged me to restart the SAFE program, the only statewide nonprofit group devoted to education and advocacy for people living with epilepsy. Dr. Pritchard was always supporting this group through his presence at events, advocacy and donations. We will always treasure him, thanks to the many fond memories we shared together.”

Becky Pritchard also shared her sentiments with the crowd. “Thank you to all of you. Paul loved MUSC – he truly loved it. He loved the people he worked with, his patients and everything he did here. That’s why he couldn’t give up the fight until the end. We were blessed that he had friends, physicians, colleagues and staff and so many who wrote a note, called or have done many things for us and especially his granddaughters. There are not enough words to express how much this means to me and our family. Thank you again,” she said.

Former College of Medicine Dean Jerry Reves, M.D., was a medical school classmate of Dr. Pritchard’s at MUSC in 1965. “Paul has always been the consummate gentleman and scholar. His family, patients, friends and colleagues knew they could always count on him for anything. I especially depended on his willingness to see any patient who needed to be seen and receive his compassionate expert care. It’s fitting that the education space is named for him – he never tired of teaching the next generation with his characteristic enthusiasm, patience and unfailing concern.”

Neurology colleague and friend Jerome Kurent, M.D., also emphasized the importance of the new education center to future physicians and students. “This new educational facility is an outstanding tribute to our esteemed late friend and colleague. It will provide a superb learning environment and state-of-the-art facility for neurology residents, fellows and medical students for many years into the future. It is also a reflection of successful MUSC collaborations and vision into the future of neurology education which made this landmark event possible.”

A native of Augusta, Georgia, Dr. Pritchard grew up in Ware Shoals, South Carolina, and received his medical degree from MUSC in 1969. After completing his neurology residency at the University of Virginia, and fellowship training at Harvard University, he returned to MUSC in 1975. Board certified in clinical neurology and clinical neurophysiology, Dr. Pritchard was promoted to professor of neurology in 1992. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, director of Continuing Medical Education for the American Epilepsy Society and a member of the professional advisory board of the Epilepsy Foundation of America. He was the first recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, awarded in 2000, and served in numerous community leadership roles in the Tri-county area. He retired from MUSC in June 2019, but continued to work with students and contribute to the department until recent years. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and other family.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Paul B. Pritchard III, M.D., Endowed Epilepsy Lectureship and Education Support Fund, via the MUSC Foundation. 

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