U.S. Surgeon General Will Speak at School of Medicine Commencement

Apr. 17, 2012

Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., the 18th Surgeon General of the United States, will deliver the keynote address at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry commencement May 18.

 One hundred and five students will receive M.D. degrees in ceremonies that begin at 4 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs Street.

Benjamin, who was nominated to be Surgeon General in 2009 by President Obama, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

As “America’s Doctor,” it is Benjamin’s job to provide the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and their health of the nation. Benjamin also oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed public health officers, who serve in locations around the world.

She is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Benjamin founded a rural health clinic in Alabama, which she kept in operation despite damage inflicted by Hurricanes Georges in 1998, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a devastating fire in 2006. She routinely made house calls and once mortgaged her house to help rebuild the clinic.

In 1995, Benjamin, a former associate dean for Rural Health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile and past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, became the first physician under age 40 and the first African-American woman to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. In 2002, she became the first African-American female president of a state medical society in the United States when she assumed leadership of the Medical Association State of Alabama.

Benjamin, the 1998 United States recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for service to the church by Pope Benedict XVI. In 2008, she was honored with a MacArthur Genius Award Fellowship.

Benjamin earned a B.S. degree in chemistry from Xavier University in New Orleans, an M.D. degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an M.B.A. from Tulane University. The Doctor of Science degree from the University of Rochester will be Benjamin’s 16th honorary degree.

Benjamin will meet with four members of the Class of 2012 who graduated from Xavier University and six other medical students who also are Xavier graduates.

At commencement, Arthur J. Moss, M.D., professor of Cardiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, will receive the George Eastman Medal, awarded to individuals who embody the high ideals of achievement and service for which the University stands. Moss is internationally recognized expert who has made significant discoveries in the treatment and prevention of cardiac arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death, and heart failure in a spectrum of disorders.