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All Things Are Now

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All things are now.

The poet Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”

From the moment George McClellan made his midnight ride to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, to ensure the establishment of Jefferson Medical College in 1824, our history has been the stuff of legend, lore, and lifesaving advances. Clearly, we’ve always been going somewhere special.

That feeling of destiny—what alumni used to describe as “bleeding black and blue”—has long been written into the Jefferson DNA.

Way back in 1867, the illustrious Samuel Gross, who at the time had been the professor of surgery at Jefferson for 11 years and an alumnus for 39, gave an introductory address at the opening of the College Session, titled “Then and Now.” He marveled:

“The advances in our knowledge in medical science within the last forty years are without parallel in any age. Never was the medical profession so busy and industrious and enthusiastic, so honest and exact in its views and its results, as it is at the present moment. It would almost seem as if the millennium were actually close at hand. Look where we may, progress—rapid and brilliant, nay, absolutely bewildering—literally stares us in the face, and challenges our respect and admiration. One is almost ready to exclaim, ‘Behold, all things are now!’”

If you’re like me, you feel that same sense of wonder today.

Each generation of Jefferson physicians and scientists has taken us one step—often one leap—further than the one before.

In the here and now, as it once was for Gross, it is up to us—and crucially, up to our alumni—to preserve and celebrate our history.

The publication you hold in your hands has been dedicated to chronicling that history since 1922—our next issue in fact will commemorate 100 years of the alumni Bulletin. And in just two years, we’ll mark Jefferson’s bicentennial. How we tell our story for that anniversary will matter.

We’re fortunate‚ of course, because we have a great story to tell. But more immediately, our efforts have received a huge kickstart thanks to my friend Dr. Marion Siegman. Dr. Siegman’s generous gift to renovate the Center City archives and special collections will shine a long-overdue spotlight on our institution’s history.

In March, we held a virtual event to celebrate Dr. Siegman and what her gift represents. I was with her in person to watch it in her office. (She brought a homemade dinner in a slow cooker for us; it was delicious.)

As we watched, I reflected on how it is altogether fitting and proper that Jefferson’s history will be enhanced thanks to the generosity of a history maker herself. Throughout her career as a researcher and teacher, Dr. Siegman has served as a role model, a mentor, and an inspiration to her students.

In the video, our new university president, Dr. Mark Tykocinski, said: “Preserving the records of a place through its historic resources gives a community its unique character. It connects us to people, times, places, and milestone events that were significant in our collective past. It serves as a narration for how we arrived at where we are today and is a blueprint for where we are going tomorrow.”

The Jefferson archives house an invaluable treasure trove that documents our history—two centuries of remarkable accomplishments, milestones, and medical firsts at Jefferson. But what makes that history sing are the people who lived it and the stories that define it.

As we near epochal anniversaries of our alumni magazine and medical college, I encourage all alumni to reach out to the Alumni Relations office. Share your story, what you’ve been up to, and what Jefferson means to you. Find out how you can support and preserve your alma mater’s history. This is the moment. As Dr. Gross put it, “All things are now.”

Elizabeth A. Dale, EdD, MPA, NACD.DC
Executive Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer
Office of Institutional Advancement


Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about the doors you can open and lives you can change. I’d love to hear from you.