Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

No Limitations

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

No Limitations

Article excerpt

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice has no sad tales about being discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine, no stories of teachers or guidance counselors who said it would be too difficult.

Sure, the naysayers existed, but Montgomery Rice was oblivious to them. "Sometimes I heard those things in the background, but 1 always assumed the negative messages were for somebody else, and not for me," she recalls.

As the daughter of a single mother who worked in a Georgia paper factory to support her four daughters, Montgomery Rice says she was taught that "all things were possible." That included excelling in math and science, attending Georgia Tech and Harvard Medical School, and completing her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University.

"Sometimes we discourage our young people into thinking that something is too hard for them," she says. "I'm a proponent for not letting people self-select that they can't do something. What if we told every child that everything they dream is possible? What would hold them back then?"

Montgomery Rice has continued to follow the positive forces in her life and to ignore any that would hold her back. She was recently appointed Morehouse School of Medicine's sixth president--and the first woman to head the historically Black medical institution in Atlanta.

Montgomery Rice arrived at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) in 2011 as dean and vice president, a position she held until she took over as CEO and president in July. She also continues to hold the position of dean as part of an administrative consolidation by the school's Board of Trustees. She succeeded Dr. John Maupin Jr., a dentist, who had served as president since 2006.

Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services and vice-chair of MSM's Board of Trustees, tells Diverse that the board's choice of Montgomery Rice was part of a years-long process.

"When we brought her on as dean we had already made the decision if at all possible that we wanted to combine those two positions and that our intention was for that person to be Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice.

"She has a very, very high standard for excellence," Grant says. "She has an exceptional ability to communicate, to listen and to connect with people. She created an immediate sense of community with the faculty and the clinical practice, and the external stakeholders from a donor and fundraising aspect with a focus on scholarship and growing the student body. …

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