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Former Surgeon General Elders to deliver commencement address for Fairbanks School of Public Health


INDIANAPOLIS — Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. surgeon general, will deliver the commencement address for graduates of the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The school’s commencement ceremony begins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 11, in Rooms 101-106 in the Indianapolis Convention Center.

Elders became surgeon general of the Public Health Service on Sept. 8, 1993, appointed by President Bill Clinton. She was the first African American to serve in the position. As surgeon general,

Elders argued the case for universal health coverage and was a spokesperson for Clinton’s health care reform effort. She was a strong advocate for comprehensive health education, including sex education, in schools. After leaving the post of surgeon general, she returned to the University of Arkansas Medical Center as professor of pediatrics.

Previously, Elders had been appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Health by then-Gov. Clinton. Her accomplishments in that position included a ten-fold increase in the number of early childhood screenings annually and almost a doubling of the immunization rate for 2-year-olds in Arkansas. In 1992, she was elected president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers.

About 100 graduates will participate in the school’s ceremony.