Morehouse School of Medicine Graduates 116
at 2016 Commencement

MSM Awards 118 Degrees in Largest Ever Graduating Class; UnitedHealth Group CEO and Keynote Speaker Stephen J. Hemsley Cites Health Care ‘Among the Greatest of All Human Endeavors’

Ronna Charles Nu’Man 


May 21, 2016 - ATLANTA – Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) today held its 32nd commencement exercise, awarding 118 advanced research, public health and medical degrees to 116 students—its largest class to date.

Proud family members and friends descended on the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the campus of Morehouse College to watch MSM’s Class of 2016 receive their diplomas and turn their tassels to the left.

The keynote address was delivered by Stephen J. Hemsley, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group, Inc., a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health care system work better for everyone. Hemsley shared with graduates a view into the current health care environment from the perspective of a company serving more than 125 million Americans through 18,000 physicians.

"Never lose sight of the fact that medicine is a unique and most noble calling, not merely an occupation. It is among the greatest of all human endeavors," said Hemsley, who was awarded MSM's Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. "The thousands of clinicians I am honored to call colleagues at UnitedHealth Group draw deep and enduring strength from that conviction. That is the path on which you embark today."

Commencement by the Numbers
MSM conferred 57 Doctor of Medicine degrees, 10 Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences degrees, 25 Master of Public Health degrees, 6 Master of Science in Biomedical Research degrees, 7 Master of Science in Clinical Research degrees, 2 Master of Science in Neuroscience degrees and 11 Master of Science in Medical Sciences degrees.

This year's M.D. class in particular had the following Match Day results:

  • 96.7% of MSM M.D. students were matched to a residency program
  • 86% Matched to the specialty of their first choice
  • 68% Matched to primary care and core specialty disciplines
  • 16% Matched to programs in Georgia

MSM President and Dean Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice said conferring a degree signifies much more than the completion of a rigorous program of studies.

"Discovery of knowledge, high-quality patient care and community are but a few of the gifts professional schools such as Morehouse School of Medicine give to the larger society," she said. "Our grandest gifts to the world, however, are the students we educate—you, the Class of 2016."

As graduates of an institution with a strong social mission, MSM graduates are acutely aware of the need to address the health disparities present across minority populations and disadvantaged communities, Montgomery Rice said.

"Moving the needle and closing the gaps in health disparities require us to act differently," she said. "We must begin to champion the innovative and forward-thinking models that will allow every person to have the access and resources such that they achieve an optimal level of health."

The President's Charge to the Graduating Class of 2016 calls on students to walk steadfast in their professional life, maintain proper perspective in their personal life and remain spiritually grounded. "Be of service to others," it reads. "You are not the center of the universe, but a servant of it."

About Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)

Founded in 1975, MSM is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians and was recognized by Annals of Internal Medicine in 2011 as the top institution in the first study of U.S. medical schools for our social mission based on our production of primary care physicians, training of underrepresented minority doctors and placement of doctors practicing in underserved communities. Our 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 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award doctorate and master degrees. For more information, please visit

Watch video highlights of MSM's 32nd Commencement