Echoes of Praise

A Lasting Impact

After nearly 50 years, Dr. Jim Boulger has been and always will be a mainstay of the northern community. His academic leadership and dedication has touched countless lives and alumni remember him fondly decades after they have graduated. As a tribute to the impact that Dr. Boulger has made in numerous places, alumni share their memories of a wonderful leader, teacher, and mentor.

Dr. Boulger was always there for our class and supported us to be that infamous third year class. He allowed us to be individuals and listened when we objected to the philosophy of some lecturers and helped us to adapt to what they wanted us to learn. He knew how to chastise and get his point across. He was partly responsible for the national ranking of our class on boards as he helped us to succeed and work together, so that the average and poorer students did not drag the class down.

He has continued to support us, by attending a pig roast last year which was a long drive from Duluth. He also helped put on our class reunion later that year in Duluth (and Minneapolis). There are so many memories and so much to thank him for. Thank you!

- Lois Steele, MD '78

I remember the barbecue at Dr. Boulger's house after taking the first step of Boards. So great to have a place to go to celebrate after weeks of study and stress. He is always able to take the fears and anxieties of medical school and make them seem manageable and a lot less daunting.

- Dawn Schissel, MD '88

He told us that in primary care, at least half of what we do would be either directly or indirectly related to mental health. I challenged him, doubting that it could be anywhere near that figure. I pictured my life as a family physician filled with things like stitching, splinting, delivering babies and prescribing medications for various common ailments, but never did I think we would actually spend so much time counseling, listening and comforting. To be sure, I have done more than enough of all of these things over the years, but Jim was exactly right, and I have always remembered him for that. It's been a great career, and I am grateful to Jim for enlightening us at such an early stage. I wish him the best!

- Robert Dybvig, MD '87

I have many fond memories of Dr. Boulger- a testament to the positive influence he has had on my life and career. Perhaps the most remarkable was a visit we had at my first job after residency - all the way in Massachusetts! He navigated Boston traffic to come to my office and check in. It was so nice to see a familiar face, catch up on news of our families, and hear the latest going on in Duluth. Dr. Boulger is a gift to education. He takes a genuine interest and invests in his students from medical school to beyond.

- Cara (Smith) Chevalier, MD '02

Its been a pleasure to know Dr. Boulger over the last 7 years. I'm ever amazed by his ability to not only remember my name, but details of my journey along the way to my current career. He truly is one of a kind!

- Kaitlyn Schoeck, MD '14

The first day of our child development class, Dr. Boulger told us that there is one thing we need to know about kids- "kids cry".  I am often reminded of this when I hear the crying and screaming kids in our clinic, 30 years after he passed on this wisdom.  In fact, I shared this lesson with some of our staff last week as we were listening to several children wail!

- Kelley Jewett, MD '91

"It will all work out." The angst we felt as students-can we make the grade, pass the test, succeed and thrive were reassured by the gentle calming spirit of a tiny giant. Half father, half mentor, always willing to listen, I will never forget him.  Rock on, Boulger.

- Anita Strei, MD '90

I consider Dr. Boulger the Father of the UMD Medical School. In addition to being a well-respected teacher, researcher, leader and administrator, his caring and personal nature helps to make the school feel like a second family. This stood out to me from the moment I met him.  He is also one of the hardest working people I have ever met in my life. He is truly a treasure to have at UMD and I feel blessed to know him and call him my friend.

-Stephanie Carlson, MD '92

My memory of Dr Boulger would be of him and his son. I don't remember his son's name, but his son had some disabilities. They were often together around my med school class. It didn't strike me then, but now, as a father of 4, it occurs to me what a wonderful relationship I was witnessing. I wish I would have been more mature then to have appreciated it. 

- John Benson, MD '95

During Jim's first day lecture, he asked a question that I responded with a comical answer to which his response was, " Who let you in here, Stiles?" My answer: "Why, you did, Dr. Boulger."

- Kevin Stiles, MD '90

I will never forget Dr. Boulger's amazing willingness to help others. Even before entering medical school, he helped me with research I undertook as an undergraduate at UMD by providing a database of family doctors throughout Minnesota to study burnout in physicians. As a med student, he then continued to be a wonderful asset and friendly face throughout my time in Duluth.

- Adrianne Moen, MD '14

I have a unique sense of humor which many who know me suggest warped may be a better description. During lung exams when my patient deep breathes, I sometimes consider allowing this to continue until a faint occurs or the patient asks to stop. Just for fun. Because I can. Then I hear Dr Boulger telling me/us, " It is a privilege to be a physician, DO NOT take advantage of that privilege. " In reality, I think of that great advice every day and not only during lung exams.  Thank you Jim for that great advice while a student and all the support after. You are truly a one of a kind gem and legend for UMD Medical School.

- Dean Myers, MD '78

I have known and loved Dr. Boulger since I was an undergrad and volunteered to have H&Ps done by medical students. It's astounding to think of the lives touched by Dr. Boulger in one way or another throughout the state of MN (and nationally) through his work at the medical school!

-Amy Anderson, MD '03

I had met Jim on my interview. I was an alternate my first year. He could tell I was pretty nervous about what the future held. When I got accepted he called and told me personally. It showed how he cared for all of us. We have students in New Ulm from Duluth Med School. He always makes a point of stopping and when he does he always has a way of making me feel really special. Like I was the best thing that came out of the Duluth program ( I know he does that for all the UMD grads). He always asks about my family as he cares just not for me but for them also. He is a very special man. Thank you Jim for the memories.

-Scott Rysdahl, MD '83

There is no finer DJ than Dr Jim 'Boulga-boy' Boulger. He organized and played all of the music for our class's fundraiser dance. It was a blasty blast! Thanks for all the memories, Dr Boulger!

- Tyson Sievers, MD '13

During my admission interview with Dr. Boulger, I still remember him commenting: "I ask these students: It's 5 o'clock and you're finishing clinic for the day. You get a call from the hospital that someone is unexpectedly crashing and they need you now. What's the first thing you do?"" Pause. ""You call your wife and explain to her why you're going to be late." That comment exemplifies Dr. Boulger and the grounded culture he helped to create at Duluth, and was a factor that lead me to choose it as my school. I just wish I would've followed his advice more often.

- Jeff Huotar, MD '96

For 30 plus years that have intermittently seen Jim he hasn't seemed to age much beyond a little more grey hair. Also seems like many times from when I was a student on rural site experience or as preceptor he had a great knack of just all of a sudden appearing! He has been such a great mentor and support for family physicians for many years. Truly one of a kind. 

- Doug Griffin, MD '86

Receiving the hot lip soap award from Boulger for the "erotic" twist dance contest.

- Greg McNamara, MD '89

  1. The show up for Med School beer bon fire and park point
  2. Sleep Walk, Santo and Johny at the dance
  3. The pink Cadillac, on the Trip to French Lick Indiana to represent the UMD med school in the national med school conference
  4. The fact that he was such a great guy and made UMD med school such a warm place
  5. The creek that runs right under the Med School

- Gene Golfus, MD '79

I remember:

  • Intense study in that stuffy classroom, with 35 other students in the old Teacher's College: hour after hour, day after day of lectures and grinding studies all night and almost every weekend. Through it all learning a monumental amount of simply fascinating information.
  • Noon breaks w/ volleyball in the basement of ""Old Main"" and a tournament organized by Casey Jones who was sadly disappointed when his overconfidence was exceded by the tenacity of one stealy eyed woman, Lois Steele who organized the winning team. And wow, what a tournament it was.
  • Wednesday nights for happy hour (aka bachelor's night out) where talk of medicine was absolutely banned.

Through all of the madness of those 2 years, Dr. Boulger stood out as the warm touch and the reasonable head. Always there to help, to listen and to get us through it all. Thank you, Jim. You are truly special!

- Timothy Hinton, MD '76

Dr. Boulger was a friend, confidant and a mentor. It would be hard to imagine my Med School experience without him in it! A wonderful man...there will be no other like him!

- Bryce Beverlin, MD '78

One of my favorite memories of Dr Boulger was when he was discussing how, inevitably, we would deliver an ugly baby. The family would requisitely be cooing over their newborn, suggesting to us that they have 'the cutest baby in the world.' In that situation, Dr. Boulger counseled us to simply reply, 'Now that's a baby!'

- Aaron Douglas, MD '05

We always love Dr. Boulger! Loved all the dances and parties and skits! Fond memories of Duluth.

- Sylvia Sundberg, MD '90

Congratulations Dr. Boulger. Think about you often when I think of my time at at the old Duluth Medical School campus. Your support and inspiration left a lasting impression.

- Larry Barthel, MD '77

I appreciate his timely guidance and encouragement in the process of becoming a physician. During the pursuit of a masters in education I decided quite suddenly one afternoon to inquire about going to medical school, and marched over to the medical school. There I was introduced to Jim. I asked him " what do I need to do to become a brain surgeon?" He laughed and said " Kathy, you don't want to become a brain surgeon. You want to become a family physician! And this is what you need to do..." He was right!

Two years later I was sitting in the first year class feeling overwhelmed trying to catch up with my classmates' scientific knowledge. Jim's reassuring and often repeated phrase was " it will all work out." And it did! I am very grateful for Jim and consider him one of the key factors in having had a wonderfully satisfying career in family medicine.

- Kathy Halverson, MD '86

Dr. Jim Boulger

James Boulger, PhD

Please consider supporting future students by making a gift to the James Boulger, PhD, Endowed Scholarship Fund or another fund of your choice. If you would like to learn more about this giving opportunity, please contact Elizabeth Simonson, director of development,