"There is nothing more esteemed than being honored by your home institution,Ē says Alvin Crawford, MD, who now adds University of Cincinnati (UC) honorary Doctor of Science (and Bearcat alumnus) to his long list of career accomplishments.
UC President Neville Pinto, PhD, will present Crawford with the honorary doctorate at UCís undergraduate Commencement on April 28, 2018, to which Crawford responds: "I am grateful. There are many individuals who put forth their best effort at patient care, research and teaching but arenít credited for their efforts with an award of this magnitude.Ē
A professor emeritus in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and attending physician with UC Health, Crawford has an outstanding 40-year history of service to country, medicine and humankind; a history he says made possible by "strong sense of family and a tremendous amount of support Iíve received from my colleagues at all levels of the team.Ē
Crawfordís credentials, however, as a pediatric spine and orthopaedic surgeon and humanitarian, are unlike any otherÖ
In the early 1960s, at a time fraught with extreme racial tension, 19-year-old Alvin Crawford became the first African-American to enroll in a southern medical school at the University of Tennessee (UT). After graduating in the top of his medical school class in 1964, Crawford honed his surgical skills while in the Navy, securing prestigious surgical residencies across the country, including at Harvard University. He joined the staff at Cincinnati Childrenís Hospital in 1977 as the director of orthopaedic surgery and held the position for 29 years.
As a clinician, he has performed over 27,000 procedures, many of which were to treat scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine). He became one of the nationís foremost authorities on video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery using multiple small incisions to insert a telescopic mini-cam to release curved spines and insert rods to straighten them. Crawford is considered a leading expert on the management of musculoskeletal problems in children complicated by neurofibromatosis (a genetic condition that can cause tumors).
Crawfordís charitable contributions to society extend to providing orthopaedic care to underserved children around the world, especially those with clubfoot, hip problems, neurofibromatosis and severe spinal deformities. His teaching around the globe (43 countries) has brought residents, fellows, attending surgeons and nurses to Cincinnati as fellows or observers to further their study of these musculoskeletal conditions. He is the founding director of the Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Childrenís and in 2004 was honored with the dedication of the Crawford Chair in Pediatric Orthopaedics and a subsequent chair in spine surgery.
A small sampling of his awards and honors includes:
∑ The Navy Commendation Medal (1987) for leading the West African Training Cruise for humanitarian patient care.
∑ The first African-American president of the Scoliosis Research Society (2001).
∑ The only surgeon named in the Top 10 Educators in the first 100 years at Cincinnati Childrenís, and has made the list of the countryís best doctors yearly since 1996.
∑ Awarded the Daniel Drake Medal (2006) from the UC College of Medicine.
∑ Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine from Closing the Health Gap in Cincinnati and Mayor Mark Mallory proclaimed May 8, 2013, to be Dr. Alvin Crawford Day in Cincinnati.
∑ Honored by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce in 2014 with the Great Living Cincinnatian Award for his medical and civic contributions.
∑ Awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America in 2014, its highest award.
∑ Recipient of the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scoliosis Research Society, the premier organization for spinal deformities, at its annual meeting in September 2014.
∑ Received the Healthcare Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cincinnati Business Courier in February 2015.
∑ The 2015 Commencement speaker for the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine.
∑ Guest speaker at UC College of Medicine Honors Day, 2016.
∑ In 2017, presented the White Coat Ceremony to the UT College of Medicine, and was presented the Distinguished Ambassador Medal, one of the highest honors for service and contributions.
His non-medical activities include being a recently retired corporate director of Ohio National Financial Services, member of the Diversity Advisory Committee of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Foundation Board of Cincinnati Childrenís Hospital, Diversity Committee of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, AACE group of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Team, Director of Tennis for Charities, life member of the NAACP and a retired captain of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps.
He is currently a lead clarinetist in the Queen City Concert Band, the UC Summer Concert Band and Undercover Big Band, and is a member of the Deanís Advisory Council of the UC College Conservatory of Music. His social activities include Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.
Crawford has been married to Alva Jean Crawford for 55 years. He is father to Alvin (Charlotte) and Carole, and a proud grandfather to Mia, Elle and Uma.
In 2017, the Crawfords created an introductory Alvin H. and Alva J. Crawford Scholarship to support underrepresented minority UC medical students who are academically strong and demonstrate a financial need. An endowed Eminent Visiting Scholar in orthopaedic surgery has also been created.