On August 20, Bob Gelles, one of the AUA family’s most beloved and longstanding members, passed away peacefully in his sleep. His wife, Arlene, was present.
Bob, who formally retired in February as head of Alumni Relations after 13 years at AUA, was an integral part of the university even before we welcomed our first students. As one of the architects of AUA’s Admissions Department, he recruited AUA’s inaugural class. He would go on to recruit future classes of AUA students and had a significant amount of influence on how candidates were evaluated. When deciding whether to admit an applicant, the Admissions Committee came to depend on Bob’s detailed reports and gave considerable weight to his opinion on whether a given candidate had what it took to be successful at AUA, and the motivation and character required to become a good doctor.
“Bob helped me realize my vision of a newer, better, medical school, and to ‘his’ students Bob was always something of a sage. They were able to sense his genuine enthusiasm in their potential. He was truly invested in their happiness and the success of this university” said AUA President and cofounder Neal Simon.
Perhaps more than anything else, Bob was known for the lasting bonds he developed with AUA applicants, students, and alumni. He and Dr. Bilal Khan (Class of 2011) were particularly close, as Dr. Khan recalled in a tribute to Bob that appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of AUA Alumni:
My personal statement, in which I referred to myself as ‘a renaissance man,’ wasn’t exactly a humble piece of writing. Bob told me he scheduled an interview because he wanted to see if I was actually that arrogant or truly believed in myself that much. After I convinced him of the latter, he became a true ally. He knew my story could not be told based on grades and a personal statement alone and said he would do his best to represent me at the Admissions Committee meeting. Not only did he keep his word but also remained at my side long after I graduated. Bob ‘put me on the map’ by placing me in positions where he knew I would have a voice.
The AUA community will always remain profoundly grateful to Bob Gelles and extends our deepest condolences to his family.