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Vanderbilt names Frist Distinguished Alumni

Jul. 4, 2002, 4:28 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Alumni Association of Vanderbilt University has named as its 2002 Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Thomas F. Frist Jr., a 1961 graduate of the College of Arts and Science who helped found what became the world’s largest hospital management corporation.
The award will be presented Oct. 24 during the University’s reunion weekend.

"Vanderbilt is judged by the caliber of its alumni, and Dr. Frist’s outstanding professional achievements and dedicated service to the community truly reflect the mission of this University," said Chancellor Gordon Gee. "I am proud that the Alumni Association is recognizing Dr. Frist’s significant contributions to society by presenting him with one of the University’s highest honors."

"Vanderbilt alumni have had an impact on different corners of the world in various ways," said Alumni Association President Jim Morgan, "but Dr. Frist is unique in that his extraordinary accomplishments have had a tremendous impact on humanity. His work with a multitude of charitable organizations demonstrates a sincere giving from the heart, and that is what sets him apart."

Frist recently stepped down as chairman of HCA, the firm he founded in 1968 with his late father and the late Jack C. Massey. What began as one hospital in Nashville grew in the 1980s to a multi-national corporation with more than 463 hospitals that were either owned or managed by what was then called Hospital Corporation of America.

In addition to his prominence in Nashville business, Frist is an ardent supporter of charitable causes, having created the Frist Foundation, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations. Frist serves as chairman of the foundation, which also was the moving force behind the public-private partnership that led to the establishment of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

Frist is past vice president of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, past chair of the Board of Governors of the United Way of America and founder of the United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society. He also serves on the board of Montgomery Bell Academy.

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Frist enrolled at Washington University’s medical school in St. Louis, where he received his medical doctorate in 1965. He returned to Nashville for a surgical internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center before serving as a flight surgeon in the Air Force.

The Frist family has a long history with Vanderbilt. His father, Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr., graduated from the medical school in 1933 and served as a clinical professor of medicine. Several other family members attended Vanderbilt, and his brother, U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, M.D., is on leave of absence from the medical school faculty.

The Patricia Champion Frist Hall at the School of Nursing is named for Frist’s wife, also a 1961 graduate of the Vanderbilt College of Arts and Science.

Frist is the sixth recipient of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, which was established in 1996 to recognize alumni who have furthered Vanderbilt’s mission through outstanding achievement and service. Previous recipients have been Bangladeshi banker Muhammad Yunus, who received his doctorate from Vanderbilt in economics; renowned heart surgeon Dr. Norman E. Shumway, a graduate of the medical school; Dollar General CEO Cal Turner Jr., who earned his B.A. at Vanderbilt; Oscar-winning director Delbert Mann, who also earned his B.A. at Vanderbilt; and Cornell University Medical College Dean Dr. Antonio Gotto, a graduate of Vanderbilt’s undergraduate college as well as its medical school.

Contact: Elizabeth Latt, (615) 322-NEWS (6397),