SUNY Downstate Celebrates Black History Month

Downstate celebrates Black History Month by commemorating different staff members who are of African descent. They have shared their stories and how they got to where they are. We at the Alumni Association want to commemorate our black alumni as well as staff members in Downstate by taking time to show appreciation for their achievements. Thank you for breaking barriers. Thank you for standing up against adversity. Thank you for challenging the system. Thank you for overcoming many odds. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


One of the people who we will be highlighting this month is Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee.


Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee was born in 1942 and attended the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She became the first woman Black dean of a medical school at Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine.


She grew up in Detroit, Michigan in humbled beginnings and raised in a housing project. Dr. Ross-Lee started her medical career at Detroit's Wayne State University in 1960. Her pre-medical advisor didn't believe that women should be physicians, and during this time was the height of the civil rights error, so she declined her application request to study human anatomy as her major. Dr. Ross-Lee graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry in 1965.


She went to train to be a teacher. After graduating, she joined the National Teacher Corps in which she earned a degree while teaching in a Detroit public school system. After completing the program in 1969, she went forth towards a new educational opportunity. Michigan State University opened a school of osteopathic medicine, Ross-Lee applied and was accepted into the program.


After she graduated from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1973, Dr. Ross-Lee started to run her own practice. She, later on, joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a consultant on education in the health professions. She also served on numerous committees.


In 1993, Ross-Lee became the first African American woman dean of a United States medical school. She remained dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of Ohio University until 2001. During her tenure there, she reformulated the entire course of study, and drafted a women's curriculum, earning a reputation as a "change agent.".


There is so much that can be said about this woman, but if you wish to know more about her, view her interview on the Youtube channel DownstateTV at this link here.


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