MSM Leaders Highly Sought After for Commencement Addresses, Honorary Degrees


Three members of the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) community were selected to deliver commencement speeches at top universities and medical schools across the nation this spring. MSM President and Dean Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice addressed graduates at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School, Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the Cardiovascular Research Institute senior fellow Dr. Camara Jones addressed the graduating classes at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine and the City University of New York School of Medicine. Executive Director of Health Policy and External Affairs Daniel Dawes spoke to the class of 2017 at his alma mater, Nova Southeastern University (NSU).

The selection of Montgomery Rice, Jones, and Dawes to be the ones to impart final words of wisdom to the class of 2017 shows that the academic community recognizes MSM as a leader in health education and health equity.

Dr. Montgomery Rice asked the more than 230 new doctors, nurses, and health scientists to think about what their unique contributions would be as she delivered her speech at UMass in Worcester, Massachusetts on Sunday, June 4.

“Beyond the legislation and policy, we will still remain challenged by a looming physician shortage as our population continues to grow and people are living longer,” said Montgomery Rice. “It is into this unique mix of challenge and opportunity that you are called. So how will you contribute and what will be unique about your contribution?”

MSM’s president and dean also reminded UMass’s class of 2017 that as a health care provider, scientist or health professional, they must work toward health equity.

“We don’t get to choose who we care for; we shouldn’t be faced with the moral dilemma of whose life matters and whose does not,” Montgomery Rice told the graduates. “Our discoveries shouldn’t be based on how much we can sell the drug for, and our desire to ensure that preventive care measures are disseminated to all shouldn’t be determined by someone else’s definition of ‘all.’ All actually means all.”

UMass also presented Montgomery Rice with an honorary degree of Doctor of Science for her work in the pursuit of health equity.

Dr. Jones encouraged SIU’s graduating class to be courageous, be curious, and to be citizens.

“Being courageous includes being unafraid of controversy,” said Jones at the school’s 43rd commencement in Springfield, Illinois on May 20. “If somebody offers you the opportunity to do something and you’re not quite sure you can do it, say yes, because the person offering you that opportunity already knows what you may not know about yourself -- that you will be successful. So embrace challenge. Forge your own path.”

Dr. Jones, the immediate past president of the American Public Health Association, was selected as the speaker because of her well-known work on how racism affects the health and well-being of all Americans. SIU leaders hoped Jones’s speech would shine a light on health equity and inspire graduates to strive for this goal.

On May 12, Daniel Dawes encouraged graduates from NSU to write their own chapter in the story of humanity, to make their mark, and to leave their legacy. “Every second is critical if you want to make a significant and positive impact in our world – please do not waste it,” Dawes told the nearly 7,000 graduates at the ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He also received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from NSU for his work in health policy.


About Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)
Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals. In 2011, MSM was recognized by Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s No. 1 medical school in fulfilling a social mission. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care.

Morehouse School of Medicine is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master's degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit or call 404-752-1500.