Inauguration of a new chief executive

Meharry Medical College Installs HIV/AIDS Researcher
Dr. James E. K. Hildreth as 12th President


Contact:          Janet Caldwell,, 615.500.0632


Anthony Anderson of ABC’s “Blackish”
Hosted Inauguration Scholarship Gala

Dr. Hildreth speaking at Investiture(Nashville, Tenn. – April 20, 2016) - The Board of Trustees conferred the Office of the President upon James E. K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D. during an Investiture Ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at Temple Church.  Dr. Hildreth, who began his tenure as the 12th President of Meharry Medical College on July 1, 2015, also serves as the Chief Executive Officer.

Delegates from academic institutions across the world attended the ceremony. Noteworthy participants included the Honorable James H. Cooper, U.S. Representative, 5th Congressional District; representing Governor Bill Haslam, John Dreyzehner, M.D., MPH, FACOEM, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health; the Honorable Brenda Gilmore, State Representative, 54th District; and on behalf of the Honorable Megan Barry, Mayor, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Debbie Dale Mason. Those making presentations included Sir Andrew McMichael, Professor of Molecular Medicine and Group Head Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, England; Valerie Montgomery-Rice, M.D., President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia; and Kim Cape, D.Min., General Secretary, United Methodist Church, Meharry Medical College, Board of Trustees. Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Frank S. Royal, M.D. ’68, introduced Dr. Hildreth.

Dr. Hildreth was presented the seal, the mace and the medallion, official symbols of the office of the president. He then gave an inaugural address that provided an overview of his dynamic vision for Meharry which includes expanding the campus footprint, increasing enrollment in all three schools, enhancing technology, adding new academic programs, and positioning the College for its sesquicentennial in 2026.

“The future is now and Meharry is just nimble enough to evolve its culture and transform its operations for the future so more students who support our mission can come, learn, and go out and serve,” said President Hildreth.

A full week of activities, including a Faith Walk, a Scientific Discovery Day, a Gospel Concert featuring Kim Burrell and a President’s Scholarship Golf Tournament culminated with an Inauguration Scholarship Gala featuring Anthony Anderson of ABC’s “Blackish.”

Dollars raised for scholarships are part of a $75 million campaign goal. Initial efforts to reach this historic scholarship goal have already begun. Dr. Frank S. Royal Sr., M.D. and Dr. Henry Moses, Executive Director of the Meharry National Alumni Association and Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, have each committed scholarship gifts of $1 million.

The Cause

With a shortage of physicians nationwide, the need for a diverse population of health care professionals and researchers is even greater, calling further attention to the alarming decline in the number of black men enrolled in medical school.

Dr. Hildreth has dedicated his Inauguration to raising scholarship funds for any student interested in upholding Meharry’s mission.  Today, the historically black academic health science center has trained thousands of health professionals who answer the call to serve in rural and urban communities with the greatest need.  More than 80 percent of Meharry Medical College alumni provide health care services to the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

About Dr. Hildreth

Dr. Hildreth received a B.S. from Harvard University magna cum laude in chemistry in 1979; a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Oxford in England in 1982; and the M.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1987.  He is a noted Rhodes Scholar, renowned HIV/AIDS researcher and the recipient of numerous awards including the NIH Pioneer Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.  He has been inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  Dr. Hildreth also serves on the Harvard University Board of Overseers and the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse at the NIH.  Dr. Hildreth has been married to his wife, Phyllis Drennon King, for 35 years.  They have two children:  Sophia, a captain and attorney in the U.S. Army, and James, a senior at the University of Oregon.

Prior to becoming Meharry’s president Dr. Hildreth served as dean at the University of California Davis College of Biological Sciences, where he made significant contributions to the university’s fundraising efforts and research programs.

About Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical Collegefounded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church related institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Visit to learn more.