Morsani College of Medicine Alumni Society

50 years of White Coats: Honoring Past and Inspiring Future Alumni 

September 24, 2021 12:51 PM By advance
Dr. Bryan Bognar, MCOM vice dean of the Department of Medical Education; Dr. Charles J Lockwood, USF Health senior vice president and MCOM dean; Dr. Stephen Vernon ’74; Dr. John Hellrung ’74; Dr. Jane Messina ’88, chair of the MCOM Alumni Society Board; Matthew Nguyen, MCOM fourth-year medical student.

On September 8, 1971, the first class of students began medical school at USF. Fifty years later, on September 2, 2021,  177 medical students of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Class of 2025 celebrated their first right of passage at their White Coat Ceremony. 


We were honored to have two of our Charter Class members, Dr. Stephen Vernon and Dr. John Hellrung, represent their class. They were presented with a special White Coat signed by the Class of 2025. In three years, the class of 1974 will come together for their 50th Reunion and will add their signatures to the coat, which will then be displayed in the new medical school to honor the past and inspire future generations. 


Through the annual White Coat Campaign, donors sponsored every member of the Class of 2025’s first White Coat and gave more than $112,000 to medical student scholarships.  Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Vernon gave an additional gift of $100,000 to his Donn L. Smith Charter Class Endowed Scholarship fund to celebrate this special 50-year milestone and support the students following in his footsteps who depend on philanthropy to attend medical school. They share their gift hoping to inspire fellow alumni to join them in investing in scholarships.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Thank you for continuing the tradition of being a White Coat sponsor. It’s critical for our future alumni to know they have a community of alumni supporting them, especially on the days when doubt outweighs confidence. On top of the rigor alumni went through in medical school, students today worry more about money. The White Coat Campaign makes sure every student knows they have someone rooting for them as a sponsor and helps build access to scholarship funds to ease some of that worry. Thank you for supporting our future alumni, especially in this exciting year—50 years since our Charter Class made history.                            

Special thanks to the MD White Coat Ceremony Presenting Sponsor, Tampa General Hospital.