1933. He was educated in the public school system and graduated magna cum laude from Morehouse College in 1954. He elected to pursue a medical education and came north to Boston University Medical School (BUMC). Following medical school graduation in 1958, he completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Weill Medical College (Cornell) in NYC. He was the first black to intern there. Dr. Sullivan returned to Boston in 1961 to train as a pathology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he again has the distinction of being the first black admitted to the program (see slideshow of other minority pioneers at MGH).
Dr. Sullivan remained at Harvard Medical School as an instructor of medicine, but after one year, decided to make a career move. He eventually found himself back at BUMC as co-director of hematology. A year later, Dr. Sullivan founded the Boston University Hematology Service at Boston City Hospital, the first municipal hospital in the U.S. The primary goal of this government hospital was to provide medical services to the poor. Dr. Sullivan remained at Boston University until 1975, and achieved the rank of professor of medicine.
I first had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sullivan n 2009, when he returned to Boston as a guest speaker @ Harvard. As part of his visit, he agreed to a private breakfast with several of the young minority physicians, as a way to encourage them to continue towards their goals. I was fortunate enough to grab a spot at the table. It was during this breakfast that he shared about his nomination to the post @ HHS. He had come to know GHW and Barbara Bush through the Morehouse connection to the CDC and his efforts at trying to procure federal funding for the school. When the position of Secretary of HHS opened up, he recalls that it was Barbara Bush who put his name in for consideration. He accepted the position, thereby becoming the first, and to date the only, black to hold the position of Secretary of HHS. He remained in the position until 1993.
Thank you, Dr. Sullivan, for your commitment to education and workforce diversity (Sullivan Commission Task Force report).
~ One drop of knowledge can ripple through an entire community