Global health is transitioning toward a focus on building strong and sustainable health systems in developing countries; however, resources, funding, and agendas continue to concentrate on “vertical” (disease-based) improvements in care. Surgical care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) requires the development of health systems infrastructure and can be considered an indicator of overall system readiness. Improving surgical care provides a scalable gateway to strengthen health systems in multiple domains. In this position paper by the Society of University Surgeons’ Committee on Global Academic Surgery, we propose that health systems development appropriately falls within the purview of the academic surgeon. Partnerships between academic surgical institutions and societies from high-income and resource-constrained settings are needed to strengthen advocacy and funding efforts and support development of training and research in LMICs.