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50 Years of African American Achievement

Throughout 2011 the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) celebrated “50 Years of African American Achievement” with students and staff.

UTHSC’s celebration highlighted Alvin Crawford, MD, first African American graduate of the College of Medicine in 1964, and William F. Owen, Jr., MD who was appointed as the first African American Chancellor at UT Health Science Center and within the University of Tennessee System in 2005.

African American Achievement was also extended with the 2008 appointment of Kennard Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, UTHSC alumnus and first African American Executive Vice Chancellor, in the Office of Chancellor, in addition to the appointment of Noma Anderson, PhD, first African American Dean of the College Allied Health Science and UTHSC, in March 2010.

alvin crawford

Dr. Alvin Crawford in 1964

Dr. William F. Owen, Jr. 

Dr. William F. Owen, Jr., MD

Dr. Ken Brown

Dr. Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE 

Dr. Noma Anderson

Dr. Noma Anderson, PhD 

Additional Achievements

Some additional milestones with ‘African American Achievement’ for UTHSC within its colleges are as follows:

  • Todd Robinson, MD, PhD, 1992 alumnus of UTHSC is the first African American to obtain both the M.D. and PhD. He also holds a faculty appointment in Preventive Medicine at UTHSC;
  • Fannie Brown, PhD served as UTHSC’s first female African American Assistant Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs in the College of Medicine;
  • Mona Wicks, PhD first African American Associate Dean for Research in the College of Nursing (CON). Dr. Wicks was named a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow in June 2008;
  • Todd Smith, DDS, first African American valedictorian in the College of Dentistry (COD) in 2007, and currently serves as an instructor in COD while working in private practice;
  • Appointment of Isaac O. Donkor, PhD, as the first Associate Dean for Health Career Programs in the College of Graduate Health Sciences;
  • UTHSC College of Pharmacy $3.36 million over three years to fund the College’s Minority Center of Excellence by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in August 2010;
  • On December 3, 2010, the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) announce that, for the third consecutive year, the college received funds to award academic scholarships. The funds originate from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). The grants totaled $100,000 for 2010, and are being given to underrepresented minority and male students seeking careers in nursing.


In Memoriam

Earline HoustonThe late Earline Houston, MD, first African American female graduate of the College of Medicine, in 1967. Dr. Houston practiced psychiatry in Philadelphia, PA, was a native Memphian, and graduated from Manassas High School.




Jessie McClureJessie McClure, PhD, was appointed as UTHSC’s first male African American to serve as a vice chancellor in September 1990. He worked in University Relations and Student Affairs, focusing on community outreach and student development.




Wisdom ColemanWisdom Coleman, DDS, MPHA, was the first African American Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs in the College of Dentistry from 1997 to 2010, he was responsible for the recruitment and retention of African American students. His overall service with the University of Tennessee and COD spanned 39 years.



Jan 8, 2024