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Geisel School of Medicine Dedicates Samuel Ford McGill Lounge in Honor of First US Black Medical School Graduate

Born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in Liberia, Samuel Ford McGill was the first Black person to graduate from an American medical school. Studious and eager, McGill embraced the study of medicine and in 1839 he received an MD degree with honors from Dartmouth’s then medical department. He achieved this at a time when people of color were largely prohibited from attending established colleges due to racial discrimination. 

In a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, February 10, the medical school dedicated the Samuel Ford McGill Lounge—a space created for Black and historically underrepresented medical students to gather. Located in Remsen, the lounge is Geisel’s tangible commitment to creating and sustaining an inclusive community at the medical school. 

 Welcoming everyone to this special dedication ceremony, Lisa McBride, PhD, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, said there is deep pride to naming Remsen 332 the Samuel Ford McGill Lounge.  

This is not only a physical space, but a community-building space that will support all efforts to strengthen students’ sense of belonging,” she said. “We have the opportunity to do something that no other medical school in the country has done—we have provided a perfect venue for historically underrepresented medical students to host workshops, talks and experiential learning activities, and facilitate connections between students and campus stakeholders. 

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Photos by Rob Strong

“The legacy of Dartmouth graduating the first person of African descent from a U.S. medical school continues in this amazing lounge; this is a constant reminder of the power of advocacy by Black Students at Geisel and the Black Alumni Group and that we must continue building our school’s legacy,” McBride said.  

She also thanked Geisel Dean Duane Compton, PhD for his support for creating this space and his commitment to improving representation at Geisel. 

Taylor Cooper ’25, expressed her gratitude and thanks to Geisel alumni, students, and staff who worked “fervently to bring this space to fruition and in bringing everyone together to celebrate their achievement.” And to Samuel McGill’s legacy “that we can carry on through this room.”  

“There are memories to be made, conversations and laughs to be shared between friends, and ideas for change and growth that will arise from this space,” Cooper said. 

“I hope I can speak for all students when I say we are all motivated to not let a room be the conclusion of our conversations and efforts as individuals and as a community to work for equity and change, for our peers and patients to feel safe, heard, respected, and to know that they belong. I hope that this room will serve as a launch pad for change.” 

Thanking those gathered for being part of this important ceremony, Compton, said, “It gives me great pleasure to dedicate this space in McGill’s honor. It is one step to making our school a more welcoming place for students who are historically underrepresented in medicine and in helping them to feel a stronger sense of belonging. 

“I would particularly like to thank the Black Alumni Group and Black Students at Geisel for your unwavering advocacy for this space. I am so pleased to be able to share this moment with you.”