Dr. Lloyd Charles Elam, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, was an impactful member of the Nashville community where he lived for over 47 years. A graduate of Roosevelt University and the first African American to graduate from the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Elam completed an internship at the University of Illinois, followed by a residency in psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He was then recruited by Meharry Medical College to join the faculty and develop the Department of Psychiatry where he stayed and served the Nashville community and beyond for decades.
During his early years, he founded Meharry’s psychiatry residency program and launched one of the first hospital day programs in Nashville for psychiatric patients. The community health model was in its infancy, but as a proponent of providing better access to care, Meharry’s Community Mental Health Center, which now bears his name, was founded.
Because of his insight, leadership and management, Dr. Elam became Interim Dean and at the young age of 39, he became Meharry’s 6th President, a position he held for 13 years. During his tenure, Meharry grew by 600 percent in acreage and buildings. Dr. Elam remained an active Meharry faculty member, mentor, advisor and physician to many until his death in 2008.
The greater Nashville community was also impacted by Dr. Elam’s service. He was a member of the Urban League, 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, Frontiers International, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the local NAACP. He served on the Board of Directors of Fisk University, Entrepreneur Guidance and Training, Inc., Metropolitan Hospital Authority, Friends of Metro General Hospital, Tennessee Advisory Public Health Council and First Union Bank of Tennessee.
He also served on the Board of Directors for Bell South Telecommunications, Tupperware Inc., Merck & Company, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Kraft Foods, Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry and the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Dr. Elam received numerous awards, accolades and honorary degrees over his lifetime including degrees from Harvard, St. Lawrence and Roosevelt Universities and Meharry Medical College.
A passionate educator, dedicated change agent and health care ambassador, Dr. Lloyd Elam is a 2019 inductee of the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.