ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR — A Legend and Role Model

Under retiring CEO Bill's leadership and stewardship, the College has continued to expand its sphere of influence in healthcare.
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Alan H. Matsumoto, MD, MA, FACR

Alan H. Matsumoto, MD, MA, FACR

Chair, ACR Board of Chancellors

June 04, 2024

William T. Thorwarth, Jr., MD, FACR, is retiring on June 30, 2024. After serving as the ACR CEO for 10 years, Bill, as he is known to many of us, is transitioning to a life where he can spend more time with his wife (Nancy), children (Robbie, David, Shane, and Kennedy), and grandchildren and pursue his other interests.

William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR and his wife Nancy
William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR
and his wife Nancy

I have had the good fortune of being mentored and befriended by Bill at a very early stage in my career. Bill was my chief resident when I was a radiology resident at the University of North Carolina (UNC). To this day, I remember the evening that Bill and Nancy welcomed the new radiology residents into their home and served us homemade lasagna for dinner — a wonderful dinner and evening and a harbinger of Bill’s leadership and welcoming style — and Nancy’s quiet and nurturing support behind the scenes. 

Bill was a resident in internal medicine for two years before practicing emergency medicine for four years prior to his radiology training. It was obvious to his resident colleagues that his clinical background was additive to his radiology, relationship-building and common-sense skills. His emotional maturity was already evident at this stage of his career — well before the leadership term emotional intelligence was popularized.

Bill, you will be missed and always remembered as a legend and role model, and probably more importantly to many of us, as a friend, mentor and trusted colleague.

—Alan H. Matsumoto, MD, MA, FACR, chair, ACR BOC

As a well-respected diagnostic and interventional radiologist and clinician, Bill practiced for 30 years in a private practice group in Hickory, N.C. Motivated as a servant leader, Bill began to volunteer in his local, regional, state and national radiology and medical societies, ascending the leadership ladder in various roles; not so much related to him wanting to be in these leadership positions, but rather, he was asked or coaxed into serving in these roles because he was so gifted at advancing initiatives, building relationships and getting things done. People just liked working with, for and around Bill. Bill has always been driven by a sense of purpose and desire to serve, rather than trying to accrue power or control.

Bill also knew why it was important to “follow the money” when it came to healthcare economics. He became intimately involved with and knowledgeable about the AMA/Specialty Society Resource-Based Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) and CPT® processes, serving as chair of the AMA CPT Editorial Panel, ACR Advisor to the AMA RUC, chair of the ACR Committee on Coding and Nomenclature and chair of the ACR Commission on Economics. As a private practice radiologist, Bill also believed in and recognized the critical importance of education and research in radiology, serving as the chair of the RSNA Research and Education Foundation Visionaries in Practice Committee and as a member of the RSNA Research and Education Foundation Board of Trustees and RSNA Board of Directors.

For his many contributions, Bill has been awarded Gold Medals from the ACR and RSNA. The ACR Excellence in Economics Service Award, known as the William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, Award, also bears his name. Indeed, all the respect and gravitas he has earned, combined with his emotional intelligence, knowledge of economics and relationship-building have helped to inform Bill’s positive influence, successes and accomplishments in his role as the ACR CEO — much to the benefit of the College and its membership. 

Under Bill’s leadership and stewardship, the ACR has continued to expand its sphere of influence in healthcare. The College is recognized as an honest broker for the FDA and the legislative branch of government, especially when it comes to economics, quality and safety, research and the deployment of AI in healthcare. With Bill’s guidance, the ACR also maintains a significant voice within the AMA, which is critically important to all of us. His memory for details, understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of certain relationships and knowledge of the past (why certain things are done the way they are done) are both legendary and invaluable. Additionally, Bill has always been willing to share his perspective and context on topics and political issues and provide mentorship to so many of us.

For those of you who did not know, Bill was an accomplished diver and on the men’s swimming and diving team at Dartmouth College. From all of us in radiology, Bill, we give you a “10” for your grace, integrity and humility — and for your service to the specialty and the College, as well as for what you have accomplished in your role as ACR’s CEO. Bill’s father was also a radiologist who practiced in Pennsylvania. I can only imagine how his father is smiling down with great pride for his son’s significant impact on and contributions to our profession.

Bill, you will be missed and always remembered as a legend and role model, and probably more importantly to many of us, as a friend, mentor and trusted colleague.

Wishing you and Nancy the very best.

Author Alan H. Matsumoto,  MD, MA, FACR, chair, ACR BOC