It could be said that HBCU Homecomings serve as the epicenter for the Black experience in America. For alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, homecoming is more than just an annual gathering. It is a reminder of the sacred space that these institutions offer. A space where you are not the minority, a space intentionally created just for you, and where black excellence thrives around you.
It is also a time to pay homage to those that created a foundation, opened doors, pathed the way and left a vibrant legacy for generations to come.
In this vein, each year, Tennessee State University hosts a Founders’ Day Convocation. “We celebrate our founders and their contribution. Let us remember that if it hadn’t been for their foresight, we wouldn’t be here,” says, TSU President Glenda Glover.
Dr. Joseph Webb, notable TSU alumnus and CEO of Nashville General hospital served as the keynote speaker for the 2019 Founder’s Day Convocation.
As a young man growing up in Mississippi, Dr. Joseph Webb was well aware of the adverse impact that limited access to high-quality food and education had on people in his community. With a full basketball scholarship and aspirations of becoming an NBA player, Webb came to Nashville, TN to attend TSU.
“Attending Tennessee State University was a transformational experience for me” reminisced, Dr. Webb. “It was a holistic learning environment – it nurtured me mentally, physically, spiritually socially, and provided me with an education that propelled me through life.”
Webb holds a bachelor of science and master of science in health and physical education from TSU. During his matriculation, he found a connection to what would become his passion and mission in life.
Dr. Webb has spent more than 25 years of his life managing for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare organizations.
He has worked as the CEO of Healthcare Services of America at Coastal Carolina Hospital and Chief Operations Officer of Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He also served in leadership for 17 years with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee, where he served as Vice President, Operations at Methodist Le Bonheur University Hospital, and then Chief Executive Officer at Methodist Le Bonheur South. He also led the Common Table Health Alliance in Memphis, Tennessee as the Chief Operating Officer before coming to Nashville General Hospital.
A boy who just wanted to play basketball left college and dedicated his time and energy to improving population health by educating people on the social determinates of health and tackle onerous work to address poor health outcomes and disparities in education, income, and access to care.
“Each time I visit my hometown I see the devastation due to a lack of education, access, and opportunities,” said Webb. “The disparities are glaring. It starts with simple things like making sure that people understand the correlation between what they eat, their lifestyle, and their health outcomes. If you can impact social determinants then you can impact health outcomes and you can impact the distribution of disparities among populations.”
Webb emphasize the importance of HBCUs in his keynote speech and highlighted TSU’s “rich history of producing public service and great leaders.”
After the event, Dr. Webb shared, “Coming from humble beginnings, I know first-hand that education is vital to breaking through disparities that one may encounter later in life. That is what TSU provided me! That is why I was so honored to be the Founder’s Day Convocation speaker. I wanted to thank TSU for fueling my drive and helping pave the way to becoming a healthcare executive and have a direct impact on the lives of everyday people.”