Carlow University Awards Honorary Doctorate to Colonel Jeannette South-Paul, MD

Colonel Jeannette South-Paul, MD, Chair of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will receive an honorary doctorate at Commencement on May 12.

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 Dr. South-Paul Will Be Honored During the University’s Commencement on May 12

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Carlow University will award an honorary doctorate to Colonel Jeannette E. South-Paul, MD, the Andrew W. Mathieson Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, during its Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at 12:45 p.m. in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.

“Dr. South-Paul, who recently received one of Carlow’s 2018 Women of Spirit® Awards, is being honored for her commitment to improve the health status of disadvantaged people of color,” said Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, President of Carlow University.  “Dr. South-Paul is a trailblazer for all women, as she is the first woman and the first African-American to serve as a permanent department chair at the university’s School of Medicine.”

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dr. South-Paul served 22 years in the U.S. Army as a family medicine physician. Upon her retirement in 2001, she was recruited to return to the University of Pittsburgh to serve as chair of the family medicine program. [A complete biography of Dr. South-Paul is at the end of this release.]

Two additional honorary doctorates will be awarded during the Commencement ceremony on May 12, 2018.  Carlow alumna and president and CEO of Marc USA, Michele Fabrizi, and Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Los Angeles’ Homeboy Industries, will receive honorary doctorates.

More than 350 students will walk during the ceremony at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.  They will be eligible to receive their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees.


About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s 13 athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

Biography for Jeannette E. South-Paul, MD

Andrew W. Mathieson Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine

University of Pittsburgh

School of Medicine

Dr. Jeannette South-Paul’s commitment to help the underserved is a passion that was ingrained in her and her five siblings by their hard-working immigrant parents.

“You can’t assume that everyone has what they need,” says South-Paul, who grew up in Philadelphia as the daughter of Jamaican-born parents working in the

children’s evangelical ministry. “My background experiences gave me a commitment to education to service and to faith that have stayed with me for the last 60 years.” 

Growing up, she volunteered as an adolescent in the rescue mission her family ran in inner city Philadelphia, before heading to the University of Pennsylvania to earn her undergraduate degree in medical technology. She then attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on an army scholarship, which spawned a 22-year career as a family physician in the U.S. Army.

Upon her retirement from the army, she was recruited in 2001 to be chair of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh at UPMC. She serves as a leader and manager for a department that reaches both Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. The mission of the department is to provide high-quality patient care, support research initiatives and to equip future physicians with the tools needed for family-oriented patient care. 

South-Paul is enthusiastic about all of the department’s programs, including the obesity awareness program called Fitwit, but her real passion project is the one she created seven years ago, the Maikuru program. South-Paul works with teen mothers to develop the education and training they need to have careers that allow them to be productive and independent. She partners them with mentors and organizes classes on self-esteem, spirituality, contraception and more. 

“An obstacle is what you see when you take your eyes off the goal. If you can’t see that goal, all you see are the obstacles,” says South-Paul, who treats mostly low-income minority patients twice a week at the UPMC Matilda Theiss Health Center. “My strategy is to give them those goals, so it allows them to lift their horizon enough so they can navigate around their obstacles.”

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