Campus News

Remembering Bowdoin's Olympic Legacy: Dr. Daniel Hanley '39

Story posted August 08, 2008

As the world watches the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Bowdoin remembers Dr. Daniel Hanley '39, a pioneer in the field of sports medicine. Hanley spent his career helping Bowdoin's athletes and was chief physician for the U.S. Olympic team from 1964 to 1972.

A graduate of Governor Dummer Academy, Mr. Hanley came to Bowdoin in the fall of 1935 and worked his way through college by sawing wood for the kitchen, waiting on tables in the faculty dining room and monitoring the pool hall in the student union. In his free time, he played football, baseball and captained the hockey team.

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Dr. Dan Hanley '39

Hanley graduated in 1939 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and proceeded to get his medical degree from Columbia University in 1943. He then served two years as a U.S. Army physician in World War II in Burma and China. The very day he returned from the war, he received a call from Bowdoin President Kenneth C.M. Sills asking him to become the college physician. He accepted the offer...and remained for 33 years.

At Bowdoin, Hanley expanded the role of college physician by investigating the causes of athletic injuries rather than merely treating them. One of the products of these investigations was the creation of new football cleats — the first of their kind and the model for generations to come. Hanley served on the U.S. Olympic Committee medical staff for a remarkable five Olympiads in the 1960s. As the chief physician for the U.S. Olympic team (1964-72), Hanley led the charge in creating standards against steroid use and doping in Olympic competition, many of which are the basis for Olympic drug testing today.

Hanley's medical legacy lives on with his family. Three of his children became doctors and another works in the medical insurance field. In 2002, to remember the important difference Dr. Hanley's work made to so many people, friends and family established the Dan Hanley Memorial Trust, which recognizes courageous and innovative work on the part of individuals or organizations to achieve sustainable improvements for patients.

Dr. Hanley lived with his wife, Maria, in Brunswick for 53 years and raised four children. His son Sean is a member of the Class of 1976 and his grandson Michael Vitousek is a member of the Class of 2007. Dr. Hanley passed away in 2001. Mrs. Hanley now lives in Falmouth, Maine.

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