Meharry Medical College Graduates Largest Class in History

Students gathering before program

The largest graduating class in the history of Meharry Medical College received their diplomas at the College's 139th Commencement, Saturday, May 17, 2014 at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House Auditorium. The School of Graduate Studies and Research awarded 78 diplomas across four degree programs—Ph.D., M.H.S., M.S.P.H. and M.S.C.I. The School of Dentistry awarded 41 diplomas and the School of Medicine 97.

A. Cherrie Epps, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College, commended the record Class of 2014. "Never forget who you are and why you do what you do," she said in her opening remarks.

Norman C. Francis speaksCommencement speaker, Norman C. Francis, J.D., president of Xavier University of Louisiana, told the graduates the nation owes a debt of gratitude to Meharry Medical College. "Thousands have made this possible," he noted, citing the progress of graduates from Meharry since its founding in 1876 and told the graduates they will have to carry Meharry's mantle forward. “Inequities in America must be addressed,” said Francis. “Meharry graduates have a very special responsibility to lead. You are going to have to stand for people who cannot speak for themselves and make their case clearly."

Francis referred to his work in A Nation at Risk, the result of a project commissioned by President Ronald Reagan and published in 1983. "The pathway out of poverty is education," Francis told the graduates. "I ask you to give leadership."

Francis was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Meharry, along with Nashville's Mayor Karl Dean, honored for his work in promoting health and healthy lifestyles through city initiatives.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College also recognized 12 recipients of the Certificate in Health Policy.