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Opening Doors: James H. Robinson, M.D.
The first significant step taken toward making Jefferson an inclusive medical education center was the appointment of Dr. Robinson as the first Associate Dean and Director of Minority Affairs in September 1975. A 1953 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Robinson took his surgical residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. There he experienced the multiple challenges of being the first African American intern, the first African American Chief Surgical Resident and the only person of color in his class.
Dr. Robinson joined JMC faculty as Clinical Professor of Surgery in 1973. His title was changed to Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Student Promotion and Academic Standing, but the challenge for recruitment and academic and personal counseling remained. In 1975 he said, "I think we can deliver a quality health care system only if medical schools have a broad pluralistic student body."
Dr. Robinson was a recognized leader and served the Philadelphia
community in many capacities: as a Board Director of the William
Penn Foundation, and the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, among
others. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his undergraduate
Pennsylvania State University and served on the President's Commission
on White House Fellowships. His untimely death in 1986 at the age
of 59 did not prevent his continued acknowledgment by the academic
world, most notably by the University of Pennsylvania "James
H. Robinson Scholarship for Minority Medical Students," and
the National Medical Fellowship, the "James H. Robinson, MD,
Memorial Prize in Surgery."
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