COM Unveils Dr. Sam H. Black Legacy Society in Honor of Charter Faculty Member

April 23, 2010

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) —On April 8, 2010, the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine dedicated the Dr. Samuel H. Black Legacy Society in honor of charter faculty member, Samuel Harold Black, Ph.D.  The first such society for the College of Medicine, the Dr. Samuel H. Black Legacy Society recognizes supporters of the College of Medicine that give at least $25,000 over five years or name the College of Medicine in their estate plan.

College of Medicine faculty, administrators and students joined invited guests, including one of Dr. Black’s daughters, Ms. Vickie Billett, in the lobby of the Joe H. Reynolds Medical Building for the unveiling of special display panels along the west wall.

Ms. Billett and College of Medicine Interim Dean Dr. Edward Sherwood, carefully pulled down the black satin drape that had covered the panels for two months.  Dr. Charles Sanders, Chair of the Department of Humanities in Medicine, invited guests to share their memories of Dr. Black and to view the more than 65 names of individuals and corporations that grace the panels along with an etched photo of Dr. Black.

“Dr. Black was a consummate administrator and a mentor to the young faculty members who joined him along the way,” said Dr. Sherwood.  “Thanks to him, we have learned that as students and physicians, we should seek to be holistic healers and more than just scientific technicians.”

Dr. David McMurray, a Texas A&M University System Regents Professor and one of the world’s leading experts in tuberculosis, received his first faculty appointment from Dr. Black in 1976.

“Dr. Black embodied all characteristics of a fully engaged academic scientist,” Dr. McMurray said.  “He took time out of his busy schedule to carefully mentor me and several other young faculty members. The philosophies he inspired are still in practice in the Department of Microbial and Molecular Pathogenesis and throughout the College of Medicine.”

Dr. John Quarles, Chair of the Department of Microbial and Molecular Pathogenesis, was the first faculty member recruited to the college by Dr. Black. 

“Dr. Black taught the importance of teaching and truly loved his job,” Dr. Quarles said.  “He showed us that what we should practice is more than just evidence-based medicine. Dr. Black did what he was called on to do and so much more.”

Dr. Paul Ogden, member of the college’s charter class of 1981 and now the college’s Associate Dean for Educational Program Development, was taught by Dr. Black during his years as a medical student.

“Dr. Black’s lectures were the ones that students absolutely did not skip,” Dr. Ogden said.  “Somehow, he was able to weave medical information with interesting anecdotes and important historical context all together into one grand production.  I never knew another professor who could engage his students like Dr. Black did all the time.”

The society’s unveiling was held in conjunction with the annual Black-Zandveld Lectureship in the History of Medicine. The lecture series was endowed by Dr. Black in 1997 as a memorial to his wife of 36 years, Elisabeth Martha Black-Zandveld. The endowment supports the Department of Humanities in Medicine by hosting eminent scholars to speak on various topics related to the history of medicine.

The 2010 Black-Zandveld Lecturer was Dr. David H. Rosen, Professor of Humanities in Medicine and Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at the College of Medicine and McMillan Professor of Analytical Psychology at Texas A&M University.
“Dr. Black was a dedicated doctor and teacher,” Dr. Rosen said. “He invited many of us into his home, and he took such special care of his students and fellow faculty members.”

A faculty member of the College of Medicine since 1975, Dr. Black held the title of Professor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Humanities in Medicine at the time of his death in March 2007.  Dr. Black served as Professor and Head of Medical Microbiology and Immunology from 1975 to 1990, Assistant Dean for Curriculum and Undergraduate Medical Education from 1985 to 1987 and Interim Dean for the College of Medicine from 1987 to 1988. He was the Associate Dean of the College of Medicine from 1988 to 1990 and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1990 to 1991. He also served on various committees during his tenure, including Speaker of the Texas A&M University Faculty Senate from 1986 to 1987.

— Dhwani Chauhan