Each student who has passed through the UTHSC College of Medicine over the last 35 years has had the experience of interacting with Nelson Strother, who was assistant dean for Admissions and Student Affairs. Strother was with the college since 1985 and is well known for his work with aspiring medical students, the Admissions Committee, student orientation, the annual White Coat Ceremony, Parents Appreciation Day, and more. He retired at the end of June.
Strother served in multiple roles at the college, including coordinator for Admissions, director of Admissions, and his most-recent role as assistant dean for 27 years. He also served for five years in the Central Admissions Office.
Over his career, Strother worked with nearly 5,500 medical students in the college and thousands of students seeking admission. “I had the great joy of working with wonderful students throughout the years and helping to create a family atmosphere in our college,” he said. “We had to work hard and be honest with each student to create a real, authentic family in our college and a humane program that fosters great physicians.”
Strother said the White Coat and graduation ceremonies were among his favorite experiences each year.
“I would get to meet these students when they came to interview with us, understand their strengths and opportunities, and then watch them grow as people over the four years and graduate as physicians dedicated to service,” he said. “Each year, the freshmen would show up at the White Coat Ceremony with their parents and I was there to call them to the stage to receive their coat, symbolizing their commitment to the Hippocratic Oath. Then four years later, I would do the same for that graduating class, it was my great privilege and truly amazing to see their progress.”
Even with 2020’s graduation ceremony taking place virtually, Strother had the chance to read each student’s name for the video production of graduation. His career has been full of moments such as these, going the extra mile for the college’s medical students.
“Our ceremonies will not be the same without him,” said Catherine Womack, MD, associate dean for Student Affairs and Admissions. “College of Medicine students and graduates who have come through this institution for decades have heard their names called at the start and finish of medical school by Nelson Strother.”
“We cannot say enough about how he has influenced our lives and shaped medical practice in the state of Tennessee and around the country in his role as assistant dean for Admissions,” Dr. Womack continued. “Our students, alumni, state, and the medical community have benefited from his care and leadership over the last 35 years, as he has diligently worked with campus leadership to select the finest applicants for admission to our medical school. I am one of those physicians, and I am forever grateful to him and his team. We will miss him, but hope he enjoys his retirement. His impact on our lives could never be forgotten.”
“I had the great fortune of doing what I love for 35 years: working with students and watching them grow to become physicians,” Strother said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”
To celebrate Strother’s career and well-deserved retirement, the College of Medicine has partnered with alumni, colleagues, and friends to establish the E. Nelson Strother Scholarship Endowment to aid UTHSC medical students and serve as a perpetual tribute to his exceptional legacy. Growing the Strother Scholarship will be a focal point for the college in the coming year, both to further recognize his impact and increase funding to offset medical student debt.
“This is such a great honor and it is stunning to have this created in my name,” Strother said. “We’d love for people to contribute, as this scholarship will provide help to those exemplary students who need it to become physicians to serve people.”
If you would like to make a gift or pledge to the Strother Scholarship, you can do so at giving.uthsc.edu/Strother or by contacting Kelly Davis in the College of Medicine Development Office at 901.448.4949 or firstname.lastname@example.org.