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The Howard University Medical Alumni Association, the oldest alumni organization on campus, was organized in 1871 by the five graduates of that year: Drs. Danforth B. Nichols, Joseph A. Sladen, L. M. Bowen, William W. Bernitt, and George W. Brooks who adopted a constitution on March 10, 1871.

Only graduates of medicine proper were at first admitted to active membership. Later, pharmaceutical graduates were admitted. In 1879, upon the organization of a University Alumni Association which admitted members of all the departments of the University, the Medical Alumni Association was discontinued and its members made a part of the University Association. In 1883, feeling the necessity of more unity among the medical graduates, the Medical Alumni Association was reorganized. By 1886, graduates of all the departments of medicine were admitted on equal terms.

The objectives for which the Association was formed, as outlined in the original constitution, were: "…the perpetuation of friendship in our Alma Mater, to keep alive the interest we have in her welfare and to collect and record all things of interest to her history."

Annual meetings were to be held on the day preceding commencement, Sunday excepted. Active membership was limited to graduates of the Medical Department. The professors and other instructors in said department were made ex-officio members. Professors in any department of Howard, as well as graduates of any regular medical school, were admitted as honorary members by vote of the Association.

By resolution, the following was adopted qualifying continued membership: "That any member of this Association who has or may hereafter adopt the practice of any other than the regular school of medicine, his name shall be stricken from the roll."

The Howard University Medical Association was incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1945 by members of the medical Class of 1945, with limited funds, $603, provided by Dr. Kapiloff's father who was a pharmacist in Baltimore.We, W. Lamar Bomar, Robert W. Briggs, T. Wilkins Davis, Bernard Kapiloff, and John A. Kennedy Jr., all being persons above the age of twenty-one years and citizens of the United States, and a majority of us being citizens of the District of Columbia, pursuant to and in conformity with the provisions of the Title 29, Chapter 6 of the District of Columbia Code (1940) do hereby incorporate the Howard University Medical Alumni Association, Inc.

Under the management of part-time medical personnel, but because of the lack of time for proper promotion, HUMAA met with rather limited success for the next ten years. In 1955, with $3,000 provided by the Class of 1934, it was reorganized with a lay staff and has increased in service and usefulness to the Alumni, the Students, the College of Medicine, and the University since that time.

The year 1971 marked the 100th anniversary of the forming of the Howard University Medical Alumni Association.

The Medical Alumni Association granted its first scholarship ($550) during the 1957-58 school year. Its first scholarship to a freshman was made in 1960.

During FY'84-'85, HUMAA awarded $26,924.00 in scholarships to students in addition to a $10,000.00 scholarship grant to Dean Russell Miller for the AT and T Endowment Scholarship program.

The Association embarked on a loan program, which at first consisted of only juniors and seniors, but later extended to all levels. The first students to benefit from the loan program were four members of the Class of 1958, with a total of $1,400.

From a total of $71,600 in loans made to medical students in 1980-81, the Association attempted to alleviate the declining federal financial assistance for medical students by allocating $125,000 per year for loans in 1982 and 1983, and $150,000 per year for loans in 1984 and 1985. Over 125 requests for loans were processed in 1984-85. The Association was striving to meet the same level of support in 1985-86. To date, almost 1,200 students have been aided by HUMAA loans totaling almost $1,000,000. The loan program was discontinued in 2004 because of difficulties administering the program and, in some cases, poor repayment.

The Howard University Medical Alumni Association contributed $108,000 to the construction of the Seeley C. Mudd building. In the past the HUMAA has contributed to the welfare of the college, its students, and alumni in various ways including:

  • Sponsoring an annual welcome party for freshmen with a t-shirt emblazoned with the year of graduation.
  • Providing refreshments during the National Boards for the sophomores.
  • Providing funds at various times for:
    • Cancer Research
    • Division of Orthopedic Surgery
    • Division of Neurosurgery
    • Department of Family Practice
    • Department of Pediatrics, Child Life Program
    • HUCM computer Center
    • Endowment of an ongoing rotating HUMAA professorship in the basic sciences of $750,000 which was matched by a federal grant for a total of $1.5 million dollars
    • $100,000/year to the Dean for his discretionary fund 2000-2003
    • an annual tour of Washington and box lunch/dinner for the freshmen
    • providing $40,000 to the HUCM to satisfy a lien on property a former dean left to the HUCM so the college would not lose the bequest
    • providing $40,000 for tuition payment for several medical students who were threatened with dismissal because of nonpayment of money which had been guaranteed by university loans that were late.

HUMAA's separate incorporated entity status enables the organization to do much of the above for which it was impossible for the university to access funds.

It has given funds to HUCM for the Joseph L. Johnson Library and, years ago, even the piano for the auditorium. The grand piano, an Austrian Bosendorfer, in the third floor auditorium in 2011 was donated by Dr. Geraldine Mowbray of the class of 1941.

In the 1980's, the Association added the Living Legend Lecture Series and an orientation packet for the student body; a Partnership Program for new intern and residents; extended recognition of Alumni Achievements; expanded fellowship activities during Reunion and at the N.M.A. Convention. These programs have served to strengthen the network among colleagues.

Computerization of the office during the 1980's assisted data management and expanded greatly Information and Referral Services.

The first complete revision of the Bylaws was accomplished during 1984-85, and the publication of the 1986 directory marked another first in service in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Chartering of the Association.

Each year the Association gives a plaque and $100 to the highest ranking student in the four-year and third-year curriculum at the College's Oath and Honors Day. Because of the number of scholarships HUMAA now gives, it has its own program in February or March. At this time (2011) the organization contributes approximately $100,000, some of which includes endowed scholarships.

Our continuing commitment in 2011 to the support of students, the college, and the university includes the following:

  • Sponsoring the long white coats embroidered with the HUMAA crest for the White Coat Ceremony, which includes lunch for the graduating seniors and their guests (about 400 people).
  • Organizing and sponsoring the annual program for the classes celebrating five-year reunions. About 200 alumni attend this event many with guests. Fifty graduating seniors may come to this dinner/dance free with a guest. Those celebrating 50 years or more are recognized with gifts funded by the organization and complementary dinner tickets for the alumnus and a guest. (The occasion is also our annual fundraiser where each class in reunion is expected to raise funds for the HUMAA. The amount raised is presented during the roll call of classes, which has occurred annually since 1945.) The amount raised in 2011 at reunion was $284,158.

Increased services and programs have demanded greater support from the membership. Charter Life members helped provide the basic foundation and, to sustain the Association, additional contributions are being solicited through charitable gifts, trusts, life insurance, stocks and other investments.

At the last two retreats, the HUMAA board recommitted to raising an endowment of at least $5 million to support the organization's programs in response to a member survey. (About 20% of the Alumni support HUMAA.)

Today, the association operates under the following mission:

  • to promote the mutual professional interests of the graduates of the Howard University College of Medicine (HUCM);
  • to promote the maintenance of high standards of medical education and practice;
  • to assist in the further development of the HUCM and its programs;
  • to support the welfare of HUCM students; and
  • to perpetuate and augment fellowship among colleagues.

This mission is very similar to the 1871 objectives statement.

Submitted by Omega C. Logan Silva,M.D., MACP 
Past President

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