Convocation 2021

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Dr. Justin Turner, Hansen Award Winner

Justin Turner is the CEO of Turner Care, LLC and currently serves on the Covid-19 task force for the Mississippi State Medical Association and the city of Jackson, Mississippi.


Dr. Turner received his undergraduate degree from Jackson State University and his medical degree from Meharry Medical College. He served his residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.


Dr Turner has received numerous honors including: 2020 and 2018 Best Doctor of Jackson by the Jackson Free Press; 2020 Dr. James Waites Leadership Award from the Mississippi State Medical Association; 2019 Chief of Medicine Division, St. Dominic Hospital; 2018 Top Entrepreneur in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal; 2017 Doctor of Distinction from the Mississippi State Medical Association; 2016 New Horizon International Community Award by New Horizon Church; 2016 Young Physician Award by the Mississippi Medical and Surgical Association; 2015 Top 50 Under 40 Business Persons in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal; 2014 Mississippi Health Care Hero by the Mississippi Business Journal; 2014 IMAGE Award in Medicine, Phi Beta Sigma Mu Sigma; 2013 Young Influentials of Jackson by BOOM Jackson and 2012 Newcomer Physician of the Year.


Dr. Turner is an active member of the local community and participates in hundreds of community service activities including health fairs, discussion panels, outreach ministries and mentorships. He serves as a health expert on local news and radio stations. Dr. Turner says that he feels health can only be optimized if we understand that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health are all interrelated and not separate entities—treating the whole person.


The Axel C. Hansen, M.D. ’44 Distinguished Physician Award is named for the outstanding School of Medicine alumnus who was one of the first African Americans to become a diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology. Dr. Hansen, Meharry’s first Distinguished Service Professor, chaired the Department of Ophthalmology at Meharry and served as medical director of Meharry’s George W. Hubbard Hospital. The award is given to an alumnus of the School of Medicine who has demonstrated leadership and personal commitment to our mission of service through the exemplary practice of medicine.

Jerry Lanier, D.D.S., Fielder Award Winner

As a former U.S. Public Health Service dentist, Jerry Lanier, D.D.S. says his goals are still aligned with what they were many years ago, serving in the Saint Thomas housing projects of New Orleans. Dr. Lanier believes he has found a solution for dental practices in providing affordable care to the underserved while still incentivizing the dentist and lowering the risk of failure.


Dr. Lanier uses his business experience to mentor and advise other dental professionals on profitable business models through his new company and through his book, The Entrepreneur Dentist—How to Exit your Dental Business Rich, with the goal of helping dentists to “be in business for yourself but not by yourself” and providing experience and expertise along with a plan based on a business franchise format—not just trying to form a franchise but to use technology allowing franchises to outperform all other small business concepts. Dr. Lanier just sold the company he founded, Kids Dental Kare, a leading provider of pediatric dental services to the Medicaid population with 14 locations, to Western Dental with the assistance of investment bankers, Synergy Advisors.


He is also leveraging his experience for another platform—turnkey dental office properties, or TKO properties.


The Fred C. Fielder, D.D.S. ’60 Distinguished Dentist Award is named for an outstanding alumnus who served Meharry Medical College as the chairman of the Department of Operative Dentistry and Dean of the School of Dentistry. The award is presented to a Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry alumnus who has demonstrated leadership and personal commitment to our mission of service and excellence through the exemplary practice of dentistry.

Deloris Alexander, Ph.D., West Award winner

Deloris Alexander, Ph.D., is a tenured professor at Tuskegee University with triple faculty appointments in the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
A native of Tuskegee, Alabama, she holds a BS degree from Alabama State University, an M.S. from Tuskegee University, and a Ph.D. from Meharry Medical College. She also holds post-doctoral experience from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in cancer genetics, host immunity. She is also certified as a bioethics trainer by the National Institutes of Health. Most recently, Dr. Alexander has been leading the community engagement subcommittee of Tuskegee’s Community Health Task Force in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Since arriving at Tuskegee as faculty in 2005, Dr. Alexander has been intimately involved in the launching of Tuskegee’s Ph.D. program in integrative biosciences, which seeks to address the lack of well-trained, graduate-level, U.S. scientists. The program is based, in part, on the integrative template Dr. Alexander experienced at Meharry Medical College. Serving as the program director for the IBS Ph.D. program, she has worked with integrative teams in procuring grants to cover student training and to improve institutional and research infrastructure. The program has provided a mechanism for fostering a more intensive biomedical research and training atmosphere, produced more than 45 Ph.D. holders and supported an equal number of MS degree graduates in the past 10 years. Most of its graduates are from underrepresented minority backgrounds. The program has enjoyed phenomenal success with an average time to degree of fewer than five years, low attrition (less than 10 percent), and excellent productivity in terms of presentations, publications and service by its graduates.


Dr. Alexander has many research interests, all related to infectious diseases. She is an avid researcher who has mentored more than 190 undergraduate and graduate students from various disciplines. In 2015-16 she was recognized as a White House Champion of Change by the White House Initiatives for HBCUs office. She currently uses her lab to understand how natural products might prove beneficial in the fight against diseases. Dr. Alexander, who served as the deputy director for research for Tuskegee’s Health Disparities Institute for Research and Education, has been actively involved in research that seeks to reduce health disparities in the Alabama Black Belt counties.


Dr. Alexander has been a member of numerous grant proposal writing teams, which have been awarded millions of dollars from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the USDA/NIFA, and the National Science Foundation. These awards have supported the education and research of hundreds of high school, undergraduate and graduate students. She teaches more than a dozen courses each year, including bioethics, parasitology, epidemiology, molecular biology and environmental health sciences. She is on the editorial staff for the Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities and she has been a reviewer for NSF, HHMI, NOAA, the USDA and several book publishers. She is also a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Environmental Health Association and Sigma Xi.


The Harold D. West, Ph.D. Distinguished Biomedical Scientist Award is named after the fifth—and first African-American— president of Meharry Medical College. This award is presented to an alumnus of the Meharry Medical College School of Graduate Studies and Research in recognition of outstanding long-term contributions in biomedical science research. Recipients of this accolade have not only demonstrated reputable accomplishments scientifically, but have made significant and meaningful progress in the highest ethical principles of biomedical conduct.

To be announced at Convocation

Michael Eric Dyson is one of the nation’s most renowned professors, gifted writers, inspiring preachers, knowledgeable lecturers and prominent media personalities.


With a Ph.D. in religion from Princeton, he has taught at some of the nation’s most distinguished universities, including Brown, UNC Chapel Hill, Columbia, DePaul, the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown. He is currently Centennial Chair and University Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Science and University Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society in the Vanderbilt University Divinity School.


Dyson is the author of more than 20 books—including seven New York Times bestsellers—with volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, 2Pac, Marvin Gaye, Bill Cosby and Barack Obama. His New York Times-bestselling Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, was called by the Times, ”one of the most frank and searing discussions on race…a deeply serious, urgent book, which should take its place in the tradition of Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and King’s Why We Can’t Wait.” The book won the 2018 Southern Book Prize. In December 2020, Dyson published the instant national bestseller Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America, which Robin DiAngelo calls a “searing cry for racial justice from one of our nation’s greatest thinkers and most compelling prophets.” Kirkus Review says it is a “sweeping overview of racism in America” and a “timely, fervent message from an important voice,” while NPR says that “what makes this an important book is Dyson’s voice, which is strong but always pregnant with frustration, pain, admiration and, ultimately, hope.”


As a preacher and sometime pastor for more than 40 years, Dyson has mounted many of the nation’s most noted pulpits to deliver sermons, including, most recently, the Washington National Cathedral—where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his last Sunday sermon. Dyson has lectured around the world in many of the best colleges and universities, in public theaters and auditoriums and for many corporations and unions.


For the last 30 years Dyson has been a media commentator—and occasionally host—on major radio and television shows, and is a political analyst for MSNBC. He has even made guest appearances on scripted television programs such as Soul Food, The Game and Black-ish.


Dyson has won two NAACP Image Awards and an American Book Award. Last year, he was presented with the Langston Hughes Medal. Feminist author Naomi Wolf calls Dyson “the ideal public intellectual of our times.” Perhaps Nathan McCall captures it best when he says that Dyson “is a street fighter in suit and tie.”

This year’s Convocation will be a virtual presentation.

Production credits to come.