Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) has announced that Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice will become the medical school’s sixth president and first woman president in the history of the institution. The Macon, GA native, received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine and her fellowship in reproductive endocrinologist and infertility at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit, Mich. She also completed the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.
Founder and former director of one of America’s first Centers for Women’s Health Research specializing in health issues impacting women of color (housed at Meharry Medical College), Dr. Montgomery Rice is amused by the title of “the hardest working woman in medicine.” As of Jul. 1, 2014, the highly respected and spirited reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist will transition from Dean and Executive Vice President of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) to become President and Dean of the illustrious institution.
Dr. Montgomery Rice will be taking the reigns from Dr. John E. Maupin, Jr., who is retiring after serving as president of MSM since 2006. “We’ve decided that combining these roles makes for a much more effective and efficient operation. I’ll continue to lead our efforts with great support. We’re really looking at how we deliver care and trying to make sure it’s a much more patient-centered model,” says Dr. Montgomery Rice.
Dr. Montgomery Rice will be both the sixth MSM president and the first African American female President to lead an independent medical institution. She believes her trailblazing sets new precedents for people of color in the medical field.
“We are evolving by being able to look at a spectrum of individuals and see the talent that we all possess. If we make the right investment, those individuals will give us a great return,” says Dr. Montgomery Rice.
With over 50 published articles, Dr. Montgomery Rice intends to expand MSM’s advanced degree programs by 20 percent. She also intends to develop more partnerships with private medical facilities, remain on the cutting edge of technology, enhance MSM’s research portfolio and increase class sizes from 70 to 100.
“In order to do that, we have to diversify our partners. We’re gonna get more engaged with various research and educational alliances and policy issues. You have to have an infrastructure in place that can support the needs of those people,” says Dr. Montgomery Rice.
Dr. Montgomery Rice has received many accolades while developing cutting-edge treatments like a vaginal microbicide for HIV prevention through a partnership with the University of Zambia.
How does Dr. Montgomery Rice stay motivated? The workout enthusiast is inspired by her mother, who was a paper factory worker, whose work ethic led her to becoming the highest-ranking worker at her factory. Dr. Montgomery also believes in taking time for herself to recharge. “Better health makes stronger leaders” is her mantra. “As leaders, we don’t take time to recharge. We have to take time to sit back, reflect, think and not ask questions,” she adds. What does a woman who has accomplished so much professionally find to be her greatest achievement?
Leadership development. “I’ve had to listen to what people need both personally and professionally. I take the information, correlate it into a process that leads to better engagement with people and better operational efficiency in the organization, so that they’re all committed to the success of MSM. With that commitment comes a breath of fresh new ideas,” says the woman who joined MSM in 2011.
Dr. Montgomery Rice, who admits to being in bed by 11:00 p.m. and up by 6:00 a.m. calling colleagues and staff, believes her greatest triumphs are ahead. “These jobs take a lot of energy, but I want people to see what a great institution MSM is,” and with Dr. Montgomery Rice at the helm, it’s safe to say that mission will also be accomplished.
Christopher A. Daniel is a pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.