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Inaugural UTHSC Medicine African-American Alumni Reunion a Success

The College of Medicine’s African-American alumni gathered over the weekend to exchange stories about their academic and career experiences and consider ways to mentor the next generation. (Photos by Joseph Martin)

The inaugural UTHSC College of Medicine African-American Alumni Reunion last weekend drew 120 alumni members and guests. They came to Memphis from Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, New Jersey, Texas, Mississippi, Illinois, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee for the historic gathering that honored the past and looked to the future.

In 1964, Alvin Crawford, MD, was the first African-American to graduate from the UTHSC College of Medicine. He returned to his alma mater as the keynote speaker for the reunion banquet Saturday at the Westin Memphis Beale Street.

Dr. Crawford is a professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and practices with UC Health. He received an award recognizing his legacy as a trailblazer in the college and his distinguished career in medicine. UTHSC Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, made the presentation.

College of Medicine Dean Scott Strome and alumnus and keynote speaker Alvin Crawford, MD, are shown at Saturday’s reunion banquet.

“Our first UTHSC College of Medicine African-American Reunion was a tremendous success, highlighting our history and serving as a foundation for our future,” said Scott Strome, MD, Robert Kaplan Executive Dean and vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs for the UTHSC College of Medicine. “Particularly meaningful to me were the personal stories of how so many of our graduates rose above covert, overt, and structural racism to make substantive and ongoing contributions to medicine. With this background, many of our African-American alumni are now hoping to give back by mentoring our future students and helping us to better engage the communities we are privileged to serve.”

The reunion helped support the college’s Diversity Scholarship Endowment to assist current and future African-American students of the College of Medicine in order to minimize the debt that accompanies medical education.

Love Collins III, vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs, said the idea for the weekend began in 2017 during  a breakfast conversation in a Nashville restaurant between himself and alumnus Ryan Mire, MD. Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD, immediately approved, and Dr. Mire was asked to set up an organizing committee of physicians to assist the university’s development office. Fund-raising for the diversity scholarship also began.

“This event was conceptualized and built around a dual purpose: a reunion celebration, and building a stronger diversity scholarship pool for future first-year students,” Collins said. “Dr. Mire called me yesterday and said he was extremely delighted with the turnout and outcomes.” Planning for the next one will begin soon at The Southern Restaurant in Nashville (where the inaugural event was conceived).

During the weekend, alumni and students learned about improvements to the campus at a session Friday detailing the Campus Master Plan with Dr. Brown, attended a welcome reception at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel Friday evening, got a college update at a lunch and town hall with Dean Strome Saturday, and celebrated together at the banquet Saturday evening.