The History of the Baylor Pediatric Alumni Association
The first minutes date back to 1961 at a meeting in Harlingen, Texas. Sixteen ex-Baylor pediatric trainees were present. The minutes were written on hotel stationery in the Rio Room of the Seville Hotel. The meetings were breakfast meetings initially held in conjunction with the Texas Pediatric Society. It was later elected to hold the meeting in conjunction with the Baylor Pediatric Post-Graduate Symposium (1962-1963) and have a luncheon meeting.
Dues were established at $5/year and a voluntary contribution to the Alumni Association of $20 was requested. Monies were placed in a savings account to gain interest, which was donated to the Department of Pediatrics. In 1961, the membership voted to put aside $500 for two consecutive years to partly fund a salary for a third-year Pediatric resident salary (equivalent to four years of training). A committee consisting of Drs. Reba M. Hill, Andrew Megarity, T.R. McElhanny and Kenneth Womack was appointed to look for contributions from foundations, industries, or individuals to match the alumni funds. In 1962, a $1,000 award was obtained from the McAshan Educational and Charitable Trust and the M.D. Anderson Foundation to match the original $1,000 to be used for a third-year resident. Salaries for third-year residents were approximately $2,500/year in 1963. This represented a significant contribution. The remainder of the association funds ($705.72) was given to the Department of Pediatrics to furnish the Baylor Pediatric Alumni Association Room at Baylor College of Medicine. This money purchased drapes, a lectern with light, three maps (Texas, United States, and the World with the locations of residents trained in the department identified), 14 framed photos of the department, faculty and house staff for each year from 1950-1964, a sign on the door designating the room "Baylor Pediatric Alumni Association", and one battery operated walnut clock. Additional monies contributed to the department later bought chairs and tables for the alumni room.
Nov. 29, 1962, the Baylor Pediatric Alumni Association became incorporated in the State of Texas, thanks to the hard work of Ben White, M.D. In 1964, Drs. Ben White, George Thannisch, Jr., T.H. Holmes, Jr., and Laurence Nickey were elected trustees of the Educational Foundation. In May 1965, the Educational Foundation of the Baylor Pediatric Alumni Association was recognized by the State of Texas as a Charitable Organization.
From 1963 to 1967, $18,605 had been contributed to the Department of Pediatrics of Baylor College of Medicine for pediatric education. This was made possible by individual alumni contributions and allowing the money to remain in savings accounts long enough to accrue interest. When new officers were elected, monies were not transferred to a bank in the city of the new Secretary/Treasurer until interest was collected.
In 1977, the association commissioned a painting of Dr. Russell Blattner to honor at the time of his retirement as chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. The picture is a 30" x 40" oil painted color photograph ($2,350) from Gitting’s Studio which hangs in the entrance hall of the Abercrombie Building of Texas Children’s Hospital. It was also voted by the membership to establish the "Russell J. Blattner Lectureship" to be held in conjunction with the Baylor Pediatric Post-Graduate Symposium. A plaque containing the names of the speakers was hung beside the Blattner Picture.
From 1978 through 1982, the association has given $46,500 toward the Lectureship and Pediatric education. The total contribution to the Department of Pediatrics by the Association from their meager gift of $500 in 1961 through 1992 is $81,956. After the death of Dr. Reba Hill in 1994, it was voted to establish a scholarship fund for resident research in her honor. Dues were raised to $30 to help fund the new scholarship. In 1995, the first Reba Michels Hill Scholarship Winner was Geoffrey Rosenthal, whose study title was "A neonatal anthropometric study to evaluate a new index of neonatal shape". The alumni and Dr. and Mrs. Feigin made the initial donation.
The twentieth-first century brought about major changes within the Department of Pediatrics. In 2002, Russell Blattner died, and in 2008 Dr. Feigin succumbed to lung cancer after leading the department for 30 years. Dr. Mark Kline succeeded Dr. Feigin after an extensive search for a new chairman of Pediatrics. The Alumni Association decided to expand their generosity and started contributing to the Baylor Student Pediatric Association to purchase infant car seats for needy families through Ben Taub Hospital. In addition, to honor Dr. Feigin’s contributions to the Pediatric Department, a new lectureship was established. Dr. Sheldon Kaplan was the inaugural speaker, and later both lectureships (Blattner and Feigin) were added to Friday Grand Rounds instead of the Post-Graduate Symposium.
As of 2012, we now have over 1,600 alumni all over the world. They include alumni from the traditional pediatric residency, the med-peds residency, and soon to be alumni from the new Global Child Health residency. As a group, we have contributed over $280,000 to the Baylor Department of Pediatrics.
Contributed by Reba Michels Hill M.D., and Dean J. Gmoser M.D.