Meharry Medical College

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Meharry Medical College
WTN PeepHoles 031.JPG
Former names
Medical Department of Central Tennessee College
Type Private, HBCU
Established 1876
Affiliation United Methodist Church [1][2]
Endowment $75.2 million[3]
Students 831
Location Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Meharry Medical College, located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, is a graduate and professional institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church whose mission is to educate health care professionals and scientists.[1][2] Founded in 1876 as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College, it was the first medical school in the South for African Americans, though not the first medical school for African-Americans in the nation.

Meharry Medical College was chartered separately in 1915. It is currently the largest private historically black institution in the United States solely dedicated to educating health care professionals and scientists.[4]

Meharry Medical College includes a medical school, dental school and school of graduate studies and research. 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 also 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 freed slaves 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 had one graduate. 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]

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 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. 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),
  • David Satcher (1982–1993),
  • John E. Maupin (1994–2006), and
  • Wayne J. Riley (2006–2013)
  • A. Cherrie Epps (2013-2015)
  • James E.K. Hildreth (2015-present)

In 2005, Meharry was Censured by the American Association of University Professors for not observing generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.

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 involved in a 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.[7]

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 [8]
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
Dr. Robert Walter Johnson Tennis Instructor for Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, Physician and Educator
Dr. Keith P. Kittelberger 1987 contributor to Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Pain Management and well-known Pain Medicine Anesthesiologist
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 [9]
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. [10]
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
Dr. C. O. Simpkins, Sr. dentist and civil rights leader in Shreveport; member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992 to 1996 [11]
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 [12]
Dr. James Maxie Ponder First African American physician in St. Petersburg, Florida [13]


  1. ^ a b "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. ^ a b "About Meharry". Meharry Medical College. 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. 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. ^
  8. ^ "Dr. Corey Hébert". Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  9. ^ Asante, Elizabeth K. (2010-07-07). "Dentist Championed African-American community in Ghana". Ghana Web. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  10. ^,,20295384,00.html
  11. ^ "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
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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]