March 1, 2011


(Left to right) Senior vice president and dean Ray Watts with Dr. Theodis Buggs Jr., outgoing Medical Alumni Association president; Alabama Governor Robert Bentley; Dr. Gerhard Boehm, incoming MAA president; and Dr. Betty Ruth Speir, MAA past president

A leading characteristic shared by School of Medicine alumni is their readiness and desire to lead.

Last month I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with many of you at Medical Alumni Weekend, and I came away even more impressed by our graduates’ accomplishments. Our alumni currently hold some of the highest positions in health care and government, both at the national and state levels. Dr. Regina Benjamin, the U.S. surgeon general; Dr. Robert Bentley, Alabama's new governor, Dr. Ed Partridge, American Cancer Society president and UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center director; and Dr. R. Bob Mullins Jr., the new Alabama Medicaid commissioner, are all graduates of our School of Medicine. Other leaders who have trained here include Dr. William Roper, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. David Freedman, a member of the Roster of Experts for the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations; and Dr. Richard Whitley, UAB distinguished professor of pediatrics, who served on the 2009 H1N1 influenza working group of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which provided recommendations to President Barack Obama on the recent flu pandemic.

Equally impressive are our alumni who are practicing community medicine, serving in leadership roles within and outside our profession, and working to make lifesaving discoveries in biomedical science.

Examples of Leadership

At last month’s event, the Medical Alumni Association recognized four graduates for their exemplary leadership. Governor Bentley received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his accomplishments in health care and government. Dr. Partridge earned the Distinguished Service Award for working to reduce disparities in cancer care and outcomes for underserved populations, particularly those in rural Alabama. In addition, Dr. Christopher Truss, a Birmingham gastroenterologist, won the Hettie Butler Terry Community Service Award for his clinical work in Kenya and on U.S. Navy hospital ships around the world. Dr. Philip Tally, a Florida neurosurgeon, also received the Garber Galbraith Medical-Political Service Award for his guiding roles with professional organizations, ranging from his county medical society to the American Medical Association.

I also want to congratulate and thank Dr. Theodis Buggs Jr., the outgoing president of the Medical Alumni Association, and Dr. Gerhard Boehm, the incoming president, for their efforts to make meaningful connections with our graduates and support our current students.


Dean Watts with Dr. Harold Gebhart (left) and Dr. Scotty McCallum (right) at Medical Alumni Weekend. Click to see photo slideshows highlighting the awards luncheon, class reunions, Reynolds Historical Lecture, and dean's reception at the 38th annual Medical Alumni Weekend, held February 18-19, 2011.

A Source of Strength

Each of these high achievers represents thousands of alumni who carry the School of Medicine’s tradition of visionary leadership into communities across the state, nation, and world. I am excited that you are our partners in medicine. By working together, we can make great progress toward our shared goal of providing the best care to our patients and defining the future of health care.

You also are a source of strength for the school. When you refer a patient, participate in CME, or share your ideas, time, and resources, you contribute to the school’s growth and reputation. That, in turn, helps increase the value of your medical degree.

Key to Success

I am excited that you have demonstrated your dedication by attending alumni events, participating in our recent survey, and communicating with me through this website. I have received emails from many of you asking questions and sharing insights, and I appreciate each perspective. Your feedback is valuable, particularly as we work on our new strategic plans for education, research, and primary care, which we anticipate rolling out in June in partnership with the UAB Health System's clinical strategic plan. Your participation will be key to the success of these plans, and I look forward to our continued cooperation in leading the way to a brighter future for those who depend on us.