We dedicated one of our research buildings in honor of Vivian Pinn, MD, last week, and it was a lovely event. Dr. Pinn was on hand, surrounded by friends, colleagues and former students, and she was almost moved to tears more than once during the course of the day. It was quite touching to see.
Dr. Pinn graduated from the School of Medicine in 1967 as the only woman and the only minority in her class. She recalled coming to UVA and feeling overwhelmed, uncertain she could make it here. But she did, and she went on to great things, eventually becoming the first full-time director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health. She also served as the chairwoman of the Department of Pathology at Howard University College of Medicine and held teaching appointments at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University. Upon Dr. Pinn’s retirement in 2011, a special tribute celebrating her NIH service was published in the Congressional Record.
“For the University of Virginia, it is a privilege to dedicate this space in honor of someone who has spent much of her life shattering glass ceilings and breaking down barriers – someone who has made a powerful impact on the university’s history; the history of medicine and women in medicine; and the future for African-American women,” UVA President Teresa Sullivan said of Dr. Pinn.
Dr. Pinn expressed her appreciation for all the accolades, but she said her real hope was that others would find inspiration in her story, that young people would follow in her footsteps and go on to do things that make her accomplishments pale in comparison. Isn’t that lovely?
If you weren’t at the ceremony last week, you can read about it on UVA Today. Dr. Pinn also spoke at the Medical Center Hour, and the MCH video channel has posted her appearance here, if you’d like to watch. And I suggest you do.