Meharry alumni, students, faculty, staff, and supporters will launch the new academic year in the Cal Turner Center on Monday, October 12 at 10:00 am. Established in 1876, Meharry Medical College, a United Method Church-affiliated institution, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals. Of its more than 6,000 medical and dental alumni across the country, 81 percent practice in underserved rural and urban communities.
This year’s Convocation is the fourth to be presided over by James E.K. Hildreth, M.D.,Ph.D., who joined Meharry as its 12th President and Chief Executive Officer in July, 2015. An accomplished researcher and academic administrator, Hildreth came to Meharry after serving as dean of the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, and founding associate dean for Graduate Studies and professor in pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University. Prior to these positions, he was an integral part of Meharry’s faculty and founded its Center for HIV/AIDS Health Disparities Research.
The Keynote Speaker is Jeanne Craig Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D., D.Sc., FACD. Dr. Sinkford is Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the American Dental Education Association. She is also Professor and Dean Emeritus, Howard University College of Dentistry. Dr. Sinkford’s distinguished career in dental education includes serving as Dean of Howard University College of Dentistry from 1975-1991.
At Convocation, Hildreth and Sinkfield will officially initiate the academic year for future physicians, dentists, researchers, and health policy experts to continue their educational pursuits. Meharry’s researchers generate new knowledge, perform innovative investigations, and mentor students pursuing degrees in Meharry’s School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, and School of Graduate Studies and Research.
Dr. Sinkford is a nationally and internationally renowned dental educator, administrator, researcher and clinician. She finished first in the dental class of 1958 at Howard University before pursuing graduate study at Northwestern University where she received her M.S. (1962) and Ph.D. (1963). She completed a Pedodontic Residency at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center in 1975. Dr. Sinkford became the first woman dean of a dental school in the U.S. in 1975. She served in that capacity for 16 years.
She has served on numerous committees and advisory councils of national significance including: Council, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences NRC Governing Board, National Advisory Dental Research Council; Directors’ Advisory Council, National Institutes of Health; Governing Board of the American Society for Geriatric Dentistry; Advisory Board, Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Program; Committee A, Council on Dental Education and Chair, Appeal Board Council of Dental Education, American Dental Association; Chair, Council of Deans American Association of Dental Schools; Council on Dental Research, American Dental Association; Tuskegee Study Advisory Panel; Special Medical Advisory Group (SMAG), Veterans Administration; National Academy of Sciences; Chair, Anatomical Review Board of the District of Columbia and National Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts USA.
She served on the following Advisory Boards: Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Howard University College of Dentistry, West Virginia University Health Sciences Center National Advisory Council, the Sullivan Alliance Advisory Board, the National Project Advisory Committee (NPAC) Department of Health and Human Services and the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health (ACRWH), National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Sinkford has more than 100 articles published in refereed journals and has written an instructional manual for Crown and Bridge Prosthodontics. From 1992 to 2011, Dr. Sinkford was responsible for diversity programming and initiatives at the American Dental Education Association (formerly, American Association of Dental Schools). Under her leadership, ADEA created numerous opportunities for the advancement of women and under-represented minorities including: ADEA/Enid A. Neidle Scholar-in-Residence Program for Women; ADEA International Women’s Leadership Conferences (1998, 2003, 2005, 2010); ADEA/W.K. Kellogg Access to Dental Careers Program; ADEA/W.K. Kellogg Minority Dental Faculty Development Program. Dr. Sinkford co-authored two seminal reports related to women’s health: Women’s Health in the Dental School Curriculum, Report of a Survey and Recommendations (1999) and ADEA Survey on Women’s Health in the Dental Curriculum, An Update 2011.
Dr. Sinkford holds honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, Meharry Medical College, Georgetown University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Detroit- Mercy University. She has received Alumni Achievement Awards from Northwestern University and Howard University and numerous other Citations for Exceptional Professional Achievement. Dr. Sinkford was selected as an Outstanding Leader in Dentistry by the International College of Dentists. She is the first AA woman to be so honored. She has received the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award from the Association of American Women Dentists and Presidential Citation from the American Dental Association and the Society of American Indian Dentists.
Dr. Sinkford received the 2007 Trailblazer Award from the National Dental Association (NDA). She was also recognized with the distinguished 2009 Herbert W. Nickens Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges for her outstanding contribution to promoting justice in medical education and health care. In 2010, Dr. Sinkford received the Pierre Fauchard Academy Gold Medal Award for her outstanding contributions to the progress and standing of the dental profession. In 2015, Dr. Sinkford was presented with American Dental Education Association’s William J. Gies Award for Vision, Innovation and Achievement for Outstanding Vision by a Dental Educator and the American Dental Association’s Distinguished Service Award. In 2017, Dr. Sinkford received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Dentists. She is a life member in the American Dental Association and was elected to Life Membership in the National Dental Association in 2012. Dr. Sinkford has been a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences since 1975.
The day begins at 7:30 am with the invitation-only annual Donor’s Appreciation Breakfast in Henry A. Moses Ph. D. Alumni Hall, and at 10:00 am, the 2018 Convocation Ceremony, free and open to the public, will begin in the 2nd Floor Ballroom of The Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education, located at 1011 21st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37208. Ample parking is available on campus. The main entrance of The Cal Turner Center also allows valet parking.
Research at Meharry is focused on eliminating health disparities that disproportionately affect people of color and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Researchers at Meharry are pioneering innovations to address the biological, behavioral, molecular, environmental, social, and other factors that contribute to the disproportionate burden of poor health care outcomes in minority and underserved populations.
The four signature areas of research at Meharry are: cancer, HIV/AIDS, molecular and behavioral neuroscience, and women’s health. Researchers at Meharry conduct bench to bedside to community research, which leads to improved patient care and the development of new treatments. Their research facilities include research cores which provide state of the art technology, advanced expertise, and teaching of technologies to faculty, research staff, and trainees.
In order to know where you’re headed, you need to know where you’ve been. For Meharrians, their journey began nearly 200 years ago. Samuel Meharry and his four brothers officially founded Meharry Medical College in 1876, but the College’s story actually began in response to an Act of Kindness received on a Kentucky road one rainy night during the 1820s—a chance meeting now known as The Salt Wagon Story. This act of reaching out, reaching back, and propelling others forward illustrates the model for the entire Meharry Experience, including their approach to a professional medical education.
In addition to providing quality professional health care education, exemplary patient care, and compassionate community outreach, Meharry Medical College produces the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, a public health journal.