Dr. Alvin and Alva Jean Crawford were honored at the University of Tennessee with the establishment of a medical scholarship fund in their name. Photo provided
Prominent Cincinnati physician Dr. Alvin Crawford and his wife Alva Jean Crawford were recently honored by the statewide University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine with the creation of the Alvin H. and Alva J. Crawford Medical Scholarship. The couple also was awarded the College of Medicine’s highest honor, the Distinguished Ambassador Medal, bestowed only on a few individuals and reserved for the most loyal and generous supporters of the college.
UTHSC Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD, in presenting the award said the university’s Health Science Center College of Medicine celebrated with the Crawfords not only their generosity, but also their commitment to diversity at the college.
“You have given these students the opportunity to excel in their education and careers, Chancellor Schwab said. “You set a remarkable example for students, faculty and alumni of the importance of philanthropy and investing in the caregivers of the future.’’
The recognitions were made in August at the Alvin H. and Alva J. Crawford Scholarship Luncheon on the medical college’s campus in Memphis, Tenn.
In addition, during the campus visit, Dr. Crawford was the speaker at the White Coat Ceremony for entering students at the medical college’s Class of 2021. It is during the ceremony that new students receive their white physicians coats.
Dr. Crawford graduated cum laude in chemistry and music from Tennessee State University. In 1962, he entered and left Meharry Medical College to attend the University of Tennessee College of Medicine—going from a Historically Black College to a racially segregated university. This was a first: before Crawford applied, it was said that there were no minority candidates “qualified” to meet the standards of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. Dr. Crawford’s mother, a nurse, was contacted by the President of the NAACP Memphis Branch, who was a physician, to get permission to use his MCAT scores to submit an application. Dr. Crawford had the grades to qualify—and he was admitted, although not allowed to transfer because Meharry Medical College was not considered to be an accredited medical school.
He became the first African American to graduate from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine, then began his residency at Boston Naval Hospital and completed it at the combined Harvard University Orthopaedic Program. He was director of orthopaedic surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for 29 years and was awarded endowed Chairs in Pediatric Orthopaedics and Spinal Surgery, the Crawford Spine Center was dedicated in his name. Specializing in treating scoliosis, he has lectured and performed surgery in 43 countries and trained 57 international fellows in pediatric orthopaedic and spine surgery. Alva Jean Crawford is a retired Cincinnati Public Schools mathematics teacher and school counselor.