First African-American Medicine Graduate Returns to Memphis to Inspire

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Award-winning physician Alvin H. Crawford will revisit his roots on Friday and Saturday, February 25 and 26, when he returns to Memphis to share his story with the UTHSC campus community.

Award-winning physician Alvin H. Crawford will revisit his roots on Friday and Saturday, February 25 and 26, when he returns to Memphis to share his story with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) campus community. Dr. Crawford is currently a professor and director of the Spine Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the health care facility where he has built his career for some 30 years. During his two-day visit to the Bluff City, he will:

— return to Melrose High School, his alma mater, to speak with seniors about their future (Feb. 25, 10 a.m. in the high school library);

— be the guest of honor at a UTHSC luncheon open to the campus (Feb. 25, noon to 1 p.m. in the Student-Alumni Center, 800 Madison Avenue);

— autograph copies of the UTHSC Centennial Book in which he is featured (Feb. 25, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., 920 Madison Plaza adjacent to the UTHSC Bookstore); and

— offer the keynote address at the UTHSC Black Student Association Awards Ball (Feb. 26, 7 p.m. at the Memphis Marriott Downtown). Dr. Crawford’s visit is especially significant since UTHSC is celebrating its Centennial in 2011, as well as marking 50 Years of African-American Achievement at UTHSC and across the UT system.

As the first African-American to be admitted to and graduate from the UT College of Medicine, Dr. Crawford is a pioneer. His impressive credentials include more than 30 years as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, acknowledgement as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Avideo-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, which allows surgeons to insert rode through small incisions to straighten the spine, and recognition for the more than 40 (mostly international) fellows he has trained.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Crawford back to the Memphis campus,” said UTHSC Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD. “His persistence, toughness and commitment to share his knowledge and experience with the next generation are incredibly admirable characteristics.”

Growing up in Orange Mound, a segregated area of Memphis in the 1950s, Dr. Crawford was inspired by his high school band director, Richard “Tough” Green. As a young student of clarinet and saxophone, Dr. Crawford observed, “Richard Green taught me to take on any challenge to succeed…He didn’t expect the best. He demanded the best.”

A prolific author, Dr. Crawford has published more than 200 articles, 6 books, and 32 chapters. He developed a teaching module in pediatric orthopedics that is used throughout the United States and 33 other countries. Among his numerous awards and acknowledgements, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Surgeons.

In January, Dr. Crawford marked the 50th anniversary of his entrance into UTHSC medical school. Although he no longer performs surgery, which he readily admits is “a young man’s game,” his love for and desire to help children compels him to continue providing consultations. Dr. Crawford also continues to mentor other physicians, helping them learn the techniques required to carry on his work. At the same time, the accomplished physician pursues his loifelong interest in music, playing classical clarinet in Cincinnati’s Queen City Orchestra and in the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

As the flagship statewide academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. In 2011, UT Health Science Center celebrates its centennial: 100 years advancing the future of health care. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The UTHSC campus in Knoxville includes a College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, and an Allied Health Sciences unit. In addition, the UTHSC Chattanooga campus includes a College of Medicine and an Allied Health Sciences unit. Since its founding in 1911, UTHSC has educated and trained more than 53,000 health care professionals on campuses and in health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.