A rural country doctor saved the life of a young boy from Anniston, Ala., suffering from whooping cough. Hearing stories about the doctor's dedication inspired the young man to pursue a career in medicine. That young man, Dr. David Satcher, has gone on to become a history maker as one of the country's foremost leaders in public health as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States and the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As a Case Western Reserve University alumnus, Satcher will return to his alma mater to inspire a new class of graduates when he delivers the 2009 commencement speech at 9:30 a.m., Sunday, May 17, in Veale Convocation, Athletic and Recreation Center on the Case Western Reserve campus.
Satcher, who earned his doctorate and medical degrees from the School of Medicine in 1970 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, is currently the director of The Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities and holds the Poussaint-Satcher-Cosby Chair in Mental Health at Morehouse School of Medicine.
Since his graduation from Case Western Reserve, he has had a distinguished career in public health, attaining some of the country's highest offices in the field. President Bill Clinton appointed him the 16th Surgeon General, a position he held from 1998 to 2002. His appointment made history as the only American to have taken the leadership positions as surgeon general and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1993 to 1998. Between those appointments, he served from 1998 to 2001 as the Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He again made history by being only the second American to simultaneously have the positions of surgeon general and assistant secretary of health.
Under Satcher's leadership as the surgeon general, he released several ground-breaking health reports. In 1998, "Tobacco Use among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups" issued a nationwide health alert about the rise of tobacco use among the country's youth and the threat tobacco usage poses to long-term health. In 2001, the leadership of the American Academy of Family Physicians hailed the surgeon general's "The Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior" as a major paradigm shift in the role schools need to take in teaching sex education. He also advanced efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health that eventually were incorporated as goals in the Healthy People 2010 initiative.
Satcher embarked on a new career path in 2002 when he returned to Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. He has served in a number of roles, including interim president and later president of the Morehouse School of Medicine and the director of the school's National Center for Primary Care.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.