Valerie Montgomery Rice Heads Up Morehouse Medical School

James Wright | 7/7/2014, 1:37 p.m.
Valerie Montgomery Rice (Courtesy of msm.edu)

Valerie Montgomery Rice, the executive vice president and dean of Morehouse's School of Medicine, is the school's newest president and the first black woman to lead an independent medical school.

Rice, a highly-regarded obstetrician and gynecologist, will retain her position as dean during her presidency, which began Tuesday.

"I consider it an honor that our board is entrusting me with the responsibility of continuing to build on the legacy of this prominent institution," she said. "The vision is crystal clear. My role is to continue to further the mission while also positioning the school to remain relevant and at the forefront of an ever-changing medical education environment."

The Morehouse School of Medicine was founded in Atlanta in 1975 by Dr. Louis Sullivan, who went on to become the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush. The school is one of the few predominantly black medical schools in the country, with prominent African-Americans such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former Surgeon General David Satcher and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin having played leadership roles.

A 2010 study ranked Morehouse as the top medical school in the nation regarding its social mission. The social mission score used in the study evaluated schools on percentage of graduates who practice primary care, work in health professional shortage areas, and are under-represented minorities.