Julie Freischlag and husband Phil Roethle

Leading by example

Vascular surgeon Julie Freischlag counts advancing philanthropy among her top priorities as the new head of UC Davis Health System – and how better to lead than by example.

Three months into her role as UC Davis vice chancellor for Human Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, Freischlag and her husband, retired financial executive Phil Roethle, pledged $50,000 over five years to support scholarships for UC Davis medical students.

Freischlag plans to personally mentor student scholarship recipients as they pursue their own research on health-care quality and safety topics.

“Phil and I would like to support the medical students as part of my role as dean,” Freischlag says. “I’ve had a wonderful experience working with first-year students in the past, and would like to support a similar experience for students here at UC Davis.”

The students will have one tremendous mentor. Freischlag served as a professor and chair of surgery at Johns Hopkins and was the institution’s first female surgeon-in-chief. She also chairs the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons – again the first woman to do so – and edits the prestigious journal JAMA Surgery, among other national roles.

Yet taking time to mentor students is typical of Freischlag’s approachable and collaborative leadership style, which has drawn appreciation from faculty and community leaders alike.

The new vice chancellor says she’s proud to be joining good company in donating to UC Davis. UC Davis Health System has the highest employee-giving rate among all five UC health campuses.

“Philanthropy is among my top priorities. It is exciting and invigorating because philanthropy is about people and their passion to make a difference,” she says. “It is magical when you connect what makes a person feel good with a need that we have in education, patient care or research.”