Meharry Medical College instates 12th college president

Dr. James Hildreth

Dr. James Hildreth

Meharry Medical College will go down in history once again for a commemorative, grand and fondly remembered event.

On July 1, Dr. James Hildreth was instated as Meharry Medical College’s 12th president. In welcoming the new president, the grandchildren of Meharry’s second president, Dr. John J. Mullowney (who served from 1921 to 1938) presented Dr. Hildreth with a copy of Dr. Mullowney’s autobiography, America Gives a Chance, which was published in 1940. The grandchildren of the former president also donated $2,000 to the medical college in honor of Meharry’s mission to serve the underserved.

The festive reception and combined media event took place at Meharry Medical College’s Lyttle Hall Parlor. Guest rose to the occasion as the 12th college president took center stage behind the podium to speak. Charismatic and on-point, the new president stated that he is looking forward to upholding tradition, looking at the road ahead with Meharry and is humbled by it all.

Dr. Hildreth’s background is very impressive and will prove to be vital to the ongoing structure and growth of the historic college. An active HIV/AIDS researcher, Hildreth comes to Meharry from the University of California-Davis College of Biological Sciences, where he served as dean and made significant contributions to the university’s fundraising efforts and research programs. Hildreth also played a significant role in enhancing faculty development and student engagement at UC Davis. Specifically, Hildreth introduced a formal fundraising to the college, more than doubling the amount of private funds raised; created a biology postdoctoral program; hired 16 new faculty members; and opened a first-of-its-kind advising center for undergraduate students.

Previous history for Dr. Hildreth includes, but is not limited to: positions at Johns Hopkins Research Univ-ersity, including founding associate dean for graduate studies and professor in pharmacology; and being a professor at Meharry from 2005-2011. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University; his doctorate in immunology from Oxford University; and his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He was the first African American from the state of Arkansas to hold the prestigious title of Rhodes Scholar. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine; a recipient of a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award; and serves on the Harvard University board of overseers.

During his tenure at Meharry, Dr. Mullowney’s service was celebrated. On Nov. 27, 1931, Mullowney received a telegram from United States President Herbert Hoover, who wrote: “This institution with its record of years and service has contributed splendidly to Negro professional education. Protection of the public health is one the most constructive forces in the nation.”

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals.

True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church affiliated institution that is ranked second among all 141 medical schools in the social mission of medical education.

Meharry is a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical field.