Morehouse School of Medicine President, Dean is Class Day Speaker

HMS Alumna Valerie Montgomery Rice to address Class of 2021

Valerie Montgomery Rice in board room

Valerie Montgomery Rice

President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD ’87, will be the featured keynote speaker at the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine 2021 Class Day ceremony on May 27.

The first female to lead Morehouse School of Medicine, Montgomery Rice has experience in patient care, medical research, organizational management, and public health policy.

She is also dedicated to increasing diversity in medicine and fostering equity in health care access and health outcomes.

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A leading infertility specialist and researcher, Montgomery Rice was founding director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s first research centers dedicated to studying the greater risk that women of color have for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and HIV, and the factors, including biology, race, and economics, that contribute to women’s health disparities.

“I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Dr. Montgomery Rice developing a conference for the Macy Foundation. She is such a dynamic leader and role model for our students, and faculty for that matter. She is an accomplished physician, scientist, and national leader in health care,” said Fidencio Saldaña, HMS dean for students.

“Dr. Montogmery-Rice is an inspiration to all of us,” said Dean for Medical Education Edward Hundert. “She one of our most distinguished HMS graduates, whose life and work remind us of the core values HMS represents.”

Montgomery Rice’s career reflects her commitment to education, service, and advancing health equity.

Born in Georgia, she received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After receiving her medical degree from HMS, she completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine and a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Hutzel Hospital.

She has received honorary degrees from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Rush University.

Montgomery Rice has received numerous awards and honors, including being elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine and receiving the American Medical Women’s Association’s 2011 Elizabeth Blackwell Medal and the National Medical Association’s OB/GYN 2019 Legend of the Section Award. In 2016, she was selected for membership in the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans and received the 2017 Horatio Alger Award.

“We are deeply honored to have Dr. Montgomery Rice share her wisdom with this year’s graduating students on the day they officially become physicians and dentists,” said Hundert.

Montgomery Rice’s daughter, Jayne, received her MD degree from HMS in 2020. Montgomery Rice’s husband, Melvin Rice Jr., is also a Georgia Tech graduate, and their other child is Melvin III.

Harvard Commencement and the HMS/HSDM Class Day ceremonies will be held virtually again this year to ensure the safety of the University and Quad communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Get more details on graduation and read graduation-related news and profiles of graduates here.