Tennessee State University in Nashville has announced that is establishing the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Memorial Institute at the university. Dr. Watkins, who died in 2015, was an alumnus of the university. He then became the first African American student to enroll and later graduate from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Watkins was associated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for 43 years, first as an intern and then as a faculty member until his retirement in 2013. In 1980, he was the first doctor to implant an automatic heart defibrillator in a patient.
The new initiative to honor Dr. Watkins at Tennessee State will have several components. First, the Dr. Levi Watson Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund has been established by a $500,000 gift from Dr. Watkins’ family. The scholarships will be awarded to pre-med majors based on academic performance.
The Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society and the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Pre-Med Society will be organizations for students in STEM fields and for students who want to attend medical schools. Each society will host seminars and establish living/learning centers on campus.
Finally, the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Lecture Series will invite prominent speakers to campus each year to address issues on health and STEM education.