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VOL. 125 | NO. 236 | Monday, December 6, 2010

100 Years of Medicine

UTHSC kicks off centennial celebration

By Aisling Maki

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The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis is kicking off its 100th anniversary celebration with the publication of a commemorative hardcover book.

Student Supriya Ponnapula and Chase Stooksbury take a test on sterile techniques. (Photos: Lance Murphey)

“The Legacy The Future: A Centennial Portrait of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center” will be available for sale this week at the campus bookstore, 930 Madison Ave.

“Putting the book together involved at least a year and a half of committee work to shepherd everyone through the process and bring it to fruition,” said Richard Nollan, director of the Health Sciences Library and leader of the UTHSC Centennial Committee.

“We plan to sell the book but also use it as a development tool. It’s a wonderful thing. It does a great job of documenting the long road that the institution has traveled from its very modest beginnings in 1911 to where we are today. I’m always so impressed by how much distance there is, in the course of just 100 years, from the beginning to where we are now.”

A vibrant, pictorial celebration of one of the nation’s largest academic health science centers, the 159-page coffee table book depicts students from various disciplines engaged in academics, research, patient care, community outreach and social life.

“It’s a terrific sourcebook for all kinds of facts regarding UT Health Science Center. We wanted to create something that wasn’t a textbook, per se, but a book that would have colorful images to draw people in and enough text for people who wanted to learn more about the history for the campus.”

The text takes readers on a journey through 100 years of the school’s history and its relationship to the wider Memphis community.

It begins: “On a stifling August afternoon in 1911, five jam-packed railroad cars arrived in Memphis. They carried 50 tons of well-used medical equipment – the portable assets of two privately owned medical schools in Nashville that had agreed to become part of a new, state-operated academic institution in the Bluff City.”

Originally dedicated solely to health science education and research, today the institution encompasses six schools and colleges to train health care professionals and scientists in allied health, dentistry, graduate health sciences, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.

As a student, resident and faculty member, Dr. Pat Wall has watched UTHSC evolve over the last half-century.

A former chancellor and interim dean of the college of medicine who served 25 years as associate dean of students, Wall now works mainly in development as assistant to UTHSC’s president.

He first came to Memphis from his home in Middle Tennessee to become a doctor and graduated from UTHSC in June of 1960. He has served on the faculty since 1965 and continues to teach.

“It was a far different institution than it is now,” he said. “The mission of the College of Medicine then was to train the medical workforce for the state of Tennessee. Back then, most of us stayed in primary care areas. With the emergence of a pretty robust research program, maybe 25 years ago, it morphed into more of a comprehensive institution. All the while, we were engaged in growing the different colleges. “

Wall said this is an exciting time for UTHSC and everyone associated with it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of is that, as one of the older medical centers in the country, we have an enormously rich legacy of producing physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and allied health. We have much to celebrate,” he said.

Both Wall and current chancellor Steve J. Schwab, M.D., wrote the forwards to “The Legacy The Future.”

In Wall’s forward, “An Introduction to a Remarkable Century,” he writes, “To say that the Health Science Center has grown and expanded almost seems like an understatement, as this history will show. If the future reflects the past, then the future of the statewide Health Science Center will be one of further significant growth, and even greater achievements for Tennesseans, our region, our nation and beyond.”

Two book signings with Wall and Schwab are planned for Dec. 13 and 17 at the campus bookstore and a number of events are in the works to mark the centennial, including a speaker series, a picnic for the campus community in Forrest Park and an on-campus gala in September.

“We want to give everyone a sense of who we are and where we come from,” said Nollan. “The campus has been described in various terms as one of the best-kept secrets in vMemphis. And we would like to abolish that if we can, and make it so that people aren’t just vaguely aware that there’s a UT campus in Memphis, but that there’s a health science center where doctors and nurses are trained to help Tennesseans.”

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