Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s oldest and largest historically Black academic health sciences centers, has announced the appointment of Sonja Harris-Haywood, M.D., M.S., MA, as dean of the School of Medicine. Harris-Haywood will advance Meharry’s mission to serve the underserved by leading, innovating, and growing the college’s medical education and training curriculum and programs. Founded 147 years ago, Meharry Medical College currently graduates more than 100 physicians each year, the majority of whom move on to urban and rural communities to treat minority populations and those who lack access to quality care.
“Dr. Harris-Haywood’s achievements in multi-disciplinary clinical research and curriculum, as well as her emphasis on teaching basic science from a clinical perspective, make her the perfect dean for our ever-evolving medical school,” said James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., president/CEO of Meharry Medical College. “For nearly 150 years, Meharry has been committed to creating a more diverse health care workforce and developing the next generation of providers who will serve underserved and minority populations. Dr. Harris-Haywood will work with her skilled faculty and Meharry leadership to create and fulfill a vision for educational success that will further Meharry’s work around the world.”
Harris-Haywood comes to Meharry from Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine (NEOMED), where she served as associate dean of curriculum integration and one of the key leaders that drove the transformation, implementation and assessment of a new medical school curriculum that integrated medical and clinical sciences. As Meharry Dean of the School of Medicine, Harris-Haywood will lead strategic initiatives and long-term planning as well as oversee curriculum development, institutional assessment and improvement, and faculty development and performance to further the college’s mission of advancing health equity locally, nationally and globally.
Prior to her position as associate dean of curriculum at NEOMED, Harris-Haywood served as its senior associate dean and the director of its Partnership for Urban Health and Primary Care. In this role, she worked to recruit, educate and retain a minority physician workforce to practice in underserved communities. Under her leadership, the partnership worked to graduate diverse students committed to practicing in primary care throughout urban areas of Cleveland, Ohio.
“The mission of Meharry captures everything I’ve worked toward throughout my career,” said Harris-Haywood. “The college is unmatched in its commitment to ensuring that our nation’s underserved communities have access to the health care services and support they need. I’m honored to now be a part of Meharry’s rich legacy by leading and creating new educational experiences and opportunities for the next generation of providers who will serve underserved and minority communities.”
Harris-Haywood earned a master’s degree in science education from New York University in 1992, and a master’s degree in clinical investigation from Case Western Reserve University in 2015. She attended Seton Hall University for her undergraduate studies and received her medical degree from New Jersey Medical School in 1997 and completed her family medicine residency at Mountainside Family Medicine in Montclair, New Jersey. She is a devoted wife to Morris T. Haywood, D.P.M., and the proud mother of three children.