Meharry Medical College

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Meharry Medical College
WTN PeepHoles 031.JPG
Former names
Medical Department of Central Tennessee College
TypePrivate, HBCU
AffiliationUnited Methodist Church [1][2]
Endowment$75.2 million[3]
DeanVeronica Mallett
Location, ,
United States

36°10′01″N 86°48′25″W / 36.167°N 86.807°W / 36.167; -86.807Coordinates: 36°10′01″N 86°48′25″W / 36.167°N 86.807°W / 36.167; -86.807

Meharry Medical College is a graduate and professional institution that is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and located in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1876 as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College, it was the first medical school in the South for African Americans.

Meharry Medical College was chartered separately in 1915. In the early 21st century, it is the largest private historically black institution in the United States solely dedicated to educating health care professionals and scientists.[4]

Meharry Medical College includes its School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, a School of Allied Health Professions, School of Graduate Studies and Research, the Harold R. West Basic Sciences Center, and the Metropolitan General Hospital of Nashville-Davidson County. The degrees that Meharry offers include Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.), Master of Health Science (M.H.S.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Meharry is the second-largest educator of African-American medical doctors and dentists in the United States.[citation needed] Also, it has the highest percentage of African Americans graduating with Ph.Ds in the biomedical sciences in the country.[citation needed]

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved is a public health journal owned by and edited at Meharry Medical College.


The college was named for a young Scots-Irish immigrant salt trader named Samuel Meharry, who was traveling through the rough terrain of Kentucky when his wagon suddenly slipped off the road and fell into a swamp. Meharry was helped by a family of freedmen, whose names are unknown. This family of freedmen gave Meharry food and shelter in the night. The next morning they helped him to recover his wagon. Meharry is reported to have told the former slave family, "I have no money, but when I can I shall do something for your race."[5]

In 1875, Samuel Meharry, together with four of his brothers, donated a total of $15,000 to assist with the establishment of a medical department at Central Tennessee College.[5] With the contribution of the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church North, George W. Hubbard and John Braden, an English Methodist cleric, were able to open the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College in 1876. The first class included eleven students. Of these eleven students, one graduated in 1877. The second class, which had its commencement in 1878, had three graduates. In 1886, the Dental Department was founded, followed by a Pharmacy Department that was founded in 1889.[6][7]

Among the second class of graduates was Lorenzo Dow Key, the son of Hillery Wattsworth Key. Key, together with Braden, was one of the founding members of the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North. The church had split into Methodist Episcopal Church North and Methodist Episcopal Church South on the issue of slavery years before the Civil War and was not reunited until 1939.

In 1900, Central Tennessee College changed its name to Walden University in honor of John Morgan Walden, a bishop of the Methodist Church who had ministered to freedmen. In 1915, the medical department faculty of Walden University received a separate charter as Meharry Medical College.[6] It included the departments of pharmacy and dentistry. The Medical College remained in its original buildings, and Walden University moved to another campus in Nashville.

Meharry Medical College was one of the fourteen medical institutions established between the years of 1868 and 1907. Of these fourteen schools, six were located in the state of Tennessee. These schools were founded after the end of the Civil War, as there was a gap between the number of people in need of health care and the few African-American physicians. White physicians often chose not to serve freedmen. During the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, most medical institutions accepted very few, if any, African-American students.

In order to combat this shortage of health care and the lack of accessibility to medical education, individuals, such as Samuel Meharry, and organizations, such as he Medical Association of Colored Physicians, Surgeons, Dentists, and Pharmacists (later renamed the National Medical Association) helped to found medical schools specifically for African Americans.[8]

Since its foundation, Meharry Medical College has added several graduate programs in the areas of science, medicine, and public health. In 1938, the School of Graduate Studies and Research was founded. The first master's degree program, a Master of Science in Public Health Degree, was established in 1947. In 1972, a Ph.D. program was implemented, and in 1982 Meharry established an M.D/Ph.D. program. In more recent years Meharry has created a Master's of Science in Clinical Investigation degree program (2004).[9]

On November 9, 2017, Meharry signed a memorandum of agreement with Hospital Corporation of America, America's largest for-profit operator of health care facilities. The agreement will have Meharry's medical students training at HCA's TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville.[10]

Meharry students had previously received clinical training at numerous sites, primarily Nashville General Hospital since it moved on-campus in the 1990s.[11] Provision of inpatient care at Nashville General Hospital without the alliance with Meharry is considered at great risk.[12][13]


Hubbard served as Meharry Medical College's first president until his death in 1921. After Hubbard's death, Meharry Medical College presidents have included:

  • John J. Mullowney (1921–1938),
  • Edward Lewis Turner (1938–1944),
  • M. Don Clawson (1945–1950),
  • Harold D. West (1952–1966),
  • Lloyd C. Elam (1968–1981),
  • Richard G. Lester (1981-1982),
  • David Satcher (1982–1993),
  • John E. Maupin (1994–2006),
  • Wayne J. Riley (2006–2013),
  • A. Cherrie Epps (2013-2015),
  • James E.K. Hildreth (2015–present)

After George W. Hubbard’s death, a succession of presidents followed until 1950. From 1950-1952 there existed an interim period in which Meharry had no president, but instead had a committee that served as the institutions principal leader. In 1952, Meharry welcomed its first African American president, Dr. Harold D. West. West made numerous changes using a $20 million fund drive. He added a new wing to Hubbard Hospital, eliminated both the nursing and the dental technology programs, and purchased land adjacent to the campus in order to make room for expansion.[14]

Another notable former president of the school was Dr. John J. Mullowney. Mullowney became president of Meharry on February 1, 1921. He immediately began to implement changes to the school in order to improve Meharry’s overall rating. Admission requirements were heightened and strictly enforced, a superintendent was implemented at the hospital, and faculty number, research facilities, and hospital facilities were all expanded. Two years after Mullowney took leadership, Meharry Medical College received an ‘A’ rating.[14]

In 2005, Meharry was censured by the American Association of University Professors for not observing generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.[15][16]

Research Centers[edit]

  • Asthma Disparities Center
  • Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neurosciences
  • Center for Women's Health Research
  • Clinical Research Center
  • Export Center for Health Disparities
  • Meharry Center for Health Disparities Research in HIV
  • Sickle Cell Center

BS/MD Program[edit]

Seven universities are in partnership with Meharry to help recruit and prepare their pre-med students to enroll at Meharry. The seven universities are Alabama A&M University, Albany State University, Fisk University, Grambling State University, Jackson State University, Southern University, and Tennessee State University.[17]

Notable alumni[edit]

Dr. Audrey Manley, Deputy Surgeon General of the United States, 1995–1997.
Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Dr. John Angelo Lester 1895 Professor Emeritus of Physiology, Hospital Surgeon for Company G, unattached, (colored) of Tennessee State Guard, Secretary of Meharry Alumni Association, member of Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.
Dr. Corey Hébert 1994 Celebrity Physician, radio talk show host, Chief Medical Editor for National Broadcasting Company for the Gulf Coast, first Black Chief Resident of Pediatrics at Tulane University, Chief executive officer of Community Health TV [18]
Dr. Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew Personal Physician to Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. Medical Director and physiology teacher of Tuskegee Institute. Founder of New Home Sanitarium, the first African-American owned and operated surgical hospital in America.
Dr. E. Anthony Rankin Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Providence Hospital & Founder of Rankin Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Second Vice President of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
Dr. Willie Adams, Jr. Mayor of Albany, Georgia
Dr. Billy Ray Ballard, MD, DDS First African American Board Certified Oral Pathologist, Previous Chair for the AAMC Group on Student Affairs; Former Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Dean of Students and Admissions, UTMB Galveston Medical School
Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda President of the Republic of Malawi
Dr. Edward S. Cooper President of the American Heart Association
Dr. Reginald Coopwood CEO of the Regional Medical Center at Memphis
James J. Durham 1882 Founder of Morris College
Dr. Renita Barge Clark 1992 Founder of The Cotillion Society of Detroit and The Educational Foundation, President of Jack and Jill of America Detroit Chapter
Dr. Cleveland W. Eneas, Sr. Senator, Government of The Bahamas. Author of The History of The Class of 1941 of Meharry Medical College
Dr. Sandra Gadson Former President of the National Medical Association
Winston C. Hackett First African-American physician in Arizona [19][20]
Dr. Robert Walter Johnson Tennis Instructor for Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, Physician and Educator
Dr. Robert Lee, DDS 1944 South Carolina-born dentist who emigrated to Ghana in 1956 and operated a dental practice there for nearly five decades until his retirement in 2002 [21]
Dr. Monroe Alpheus Majors Physician and writer and civil rights activist in Texas and Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Audrey F. Manley Acting Surgeon General of the United States, President Spelman College
Dr. John E. Maupin President of Morehouse School of Medicine
Dr. Conrad Murray Personal physician of Michael Jackson, convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death on June 25, 2009. [22]
Maj. General Leonard Randolph, Jr. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Plan Administration
Dr. Louis Pendleton dentist and civil rights leader in Shreveport, Louisiana
Dr. Charles V. Roman President of the National Medical Association. Author of A History of Meharry Medical College
Frank S. Royal 1968 chair of Meharry Medical college's board; director of public companies; former president of the National Medical Association [23]
Dr. C. O. Simpkins, Sr. dentist and civil rights leader in Shreveport; member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992 to 1996 [24]
Dr. Walter R. Tucker, Jr. Former Mayor of Compton, California
Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. Former Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Meharry. Author of "President's Farewell Address" Journal of the National Medical Association 1955
Dr. Reuben Warren Associate Director for Minority Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Charles H. Wright Founder of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Lorenzo Raymond Sylvanus Nelson, M.D. Regimental Surgeon, Major, Medical Corps, 366th Infantry Regiment, 5th Army, World War II, grandson of Lorenzo Dow Key, M.D., 1878 and great-grandson of Hillery Wattsworth Key, D.D., Trustee, Walden University.
Jeanne Spurlock, M.D. noted Psychiatrist, Chairman of Department, Meharry Medical College (1968) and Department of Neuropsychiatry, Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, Illinois; Fellow, American Association of Psychiatry
Dr. Emily F. Pollard, M.D., FACS noted plastic surgeon, "TOP Doctor" in Philadelphia Magazine, appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show
Dr. Carl C. Bell, M.D. Community Psychiatrist, International Researcher, Academician, Author, President/CEO
Dr. Emma Rochelle Wheeler 1905 Founder of Walden Hospital and school of nursing, both serving African Americans, in Chattanooga, TN [25]
Dr. James Maxie Ponder First African American physician in St. Petersburg, Florida [26]


  1. ^ "Meharry Medical College". International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities (IAMSCU). Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved 2007-06-29.
  2. ^ "About Meharry". Meharry Medical College. Archived from the original on 2012-10-27. Retrieved 2007-06-29.
  3. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 14, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  4. ^ Marian Wright Edelman to speak at Meharry Medical College commencement, Nashville Business Journal, May 6, 2008
  5. ^ a b "The Salt Wagon Story", Meharry Medical College website (accessed September 12, 2007)
  6. ^ a b Reavis L. Mitchell, Jr., Meharry Medical College, Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
  7. ^ Thomas Jr, James G., and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 22: Science and Medicine. UNC Press Books, 2012.
  8. ^ Hansen, Axel (April 2002). "African Americans in Medicine". Journal of the National Medical Association. 94: 266–271.
  9. ^ "Quick Facts". Meharry Medical College.
  10. ^ Kacik, Alex (November 9, 2017). "HCA partners with Meharry Medical College to train students". Modern Healthcare. Crain Communications, Inc. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  11. ^ "Nashville General Hospital". Meharry Medical College. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  12. ^ Stinnett, Joel (November 9, 2017). "HCA strikes student-training deal with Meharry". Nashville Business Journal. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  13. ^ Fletcher, Holly (November 17, 2017). "Nashville General board member resigns, mayor apologizes for surprise hospital announcement". The Tennessean. USA Today Network. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Mitchell Jr., Reavis (January 2010). "Meharry Medical College". The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. 2.
  15. ^ "Academic Freedom and Tenure: Meharry Medical College | AAUP". Academe. American Association of University Professors. November 2004. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  16. ^ Spragens, John (July 21, 2005). "Labor Pains at Meharry". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ "Dr. Corey Hébert". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  19. ^ "Arizona Black History and the Hackett – Aldridge Connection". Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  20. ^ Towne, Douglas. "Color-Blind Care - History". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  21. ^ Asante, Elizabeth K. (2010-07-07). "Dentist Championed African-American community in Ghana". Ghana Web. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  22. ^ "INSIDE STORY: The Two Sides of Dr. Conrad Murray". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Meharry board chair to retire after 30 years". Nashville Post. January 10, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  24. ^ "Louisiana: Simpkins, C. O.", Who's Who in American Politics, 2003-2004, 19th ed., Vol. 1 (Alabama-Montana) (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2003), p. 794
  25. ^ Elizabeth H. Oakes, "Wheeler, Emma Rochelle (1882-1957), American Physician," in Oakes, Encyclopedia of World Scientists, rev. ed. (New York: Infobase Publications, 2007), 763-764.
  26. ^ Arsenault, Kathy (January 17, 2001). "The Ernest Ayer Ponder Collection" (PDF). University of South Florida St. Petersburg: Digital Archive. University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Retrieved 2016-09-20.

Additional references[edit]

  • Johnson, Charles (2000). The Spirit of a Place Called Meharry. Franklin, Tennessee: Hillsboro Press.
  • Smith, John Abernathy. Cross and Flame: Two Centuries of United Methodism in Middle Tennessee. Commission on Archives and History of the Tennessee Conference, United Methodist Church, Parthenon Press, Nashville, Tennessee (1984)..
  • Summerville, James. Educating Black Doctors; A History of Meharry Medical College. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1983.

External links[edit]