Convocation 2011

Honors Bestowed on Leaders from Medicine and the Arts

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Read the full text of the Convocation keynote addresses

Wheelock College formally opened its 2011-2012 academic year on September 14 with a Convocation Ceremony focusing on the disparity in access to healthcare and treatment, the theme at the centerpiece of Wheelock's summer reading book "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

Husband and wife medical educators and researchers Dr. W. Michael Byrd and Dr. Linda A Clayton-who along with former Chicago Cultural Affairs Commissioner and arts pioneer Lois Weisberg were each awarded an honorary Wheelock doctorate degree-spoke at the Convocation about their lifetime of work shaping health policies to improve patient care, particularly for African-Americans and other disadvantaged minorities in the US.

Dr. W. Michael Byrd

Michael ByrdDr. W. Michael Byrd is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist whose career has been concentrated in academic medicine and health policy. He is currently Director of the Institute for Optimizing Health and Healthcare, Inc., as well as a public health practitioner, health policy researcher, and instructor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. He also serves as a consultant physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School.

He has published and consulted extensively on the African-American health crisis and minority health policy issues and is an acknowledged medical historian with a health policy focus. He contributed to "The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture" and History" and "The Oxford Companion of United States History." Since 1978, Dr. Byrd has consulted with numerous organizations such as the NAACP, SCLC, National Medical Association, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust, The Clinton Health Reform Task Force, the US Congress, the Summit Health Coalition, the National Cancer Institute, The Centers for Disease Control and the IOM. He is widely published, has received numerous awards and has served on several national and international committees.

Dr. Linda Clayton
Linda ClaytonDr. Linda Clayton, a practicing Obstetrician-Gynecologist, was the first African-American woman to be sub-specialty trained in Gynecological Oncology. She is currently Medical Director of Primary Care Clinician Plan and Senior Associate Medical Director of Medicaid/MassHealth of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is a public health practitioner, health policy researcher, and instructor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and serves as an instructor and staff physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School.

In addition to her experience as a practicing physician, Dr. Clayton has a 25-year research background in biomedical sciences, Gyn-Oncology, health policy, health services and the conduct of clinical trials in Oncology, Gynecology, and HIV. She established the first Oncology Clinical Trials Program at Meharry Medical College during her tenure as Director of the Cancer Control Research Unit. She has published extensively in Oncology, health policy and public health, in peer-reviewed journals in both the US and the United Kingdom.

Drs. Byrd and Clayton are co-authors of a two-volume book, "An American Health Dilemma." Both volumes were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Ms. Lois Weisberg
Lois WeisbergWheelock is proud to bestow an honorary degree on Lois Weisberg, who was the Commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs in Chicago, IL, for more than 20 years before stepping down from the position at the end of January, 2011. Her exceptional leadership skills earned the department a reputation for innovation in cultural programming. Today, the department is widely regarded as a national model for municipal support of the arts.

As Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Ms. Weisberg transformed Chicago's central public library into the Chicago Cultural Center and made it a showcase for more than 700 exhibits and performances a year. She developed a diverse range of concerts, children's activities, and other free programs at Chicago's newest cultural landmark, Millennium Park. She also created the SummerDance and World Music Festivals and sponsored exciting public art exhibits such as the phenomenally popular Cows on Parade and Suite Home Chicago.

A lifelong Chicagoan, Ms. Weisberg's career has been distinguished by a passion for public service. She was founder and member of the Board of Friends of the Parks, Director of Public Affairs for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Director of Development for BPI, a public interest law firm and Executive Director of the Chicago Council of Lawyers.

She is currently in the process of developing a book, chronicling several important historic events that took place in Chicago during the period from 1956-1983.

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