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School of Medicine Columbia

School of Medicine Honors Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia has announced the establishment of the Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science Recognition program.

"In 2019, the Women in Science and Medicine Committee accurately noted that virtually all of the images on display in the school depicted white males. Although these individuals have made noteworthy contributions to the School of Medicine, they advocated that many women and those from diverse racial backgrounds also deserved to be honored. I completely agreed with them, and the Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science initiative is an outgrowth of those conversations," said Dean Les Hall. 

The inaugural class of Luminary Leaders were recognized during a virtual ceremony on Feb. 18. The honorees are noted members of the medical and science community, who have not only made meaningful contributions to the School of Medicine, but who have also created a legacy through their service, leadership and efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

The inaugural honorees are:

Raymond Bynoe

Raymond P. Bynoe, M.D. '84 (residency)

Raymond Bynoe, M.D., has spent his medical career providing for the most severely injured of patients. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, he obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, then attended the Medical University of South Carolina to earn his Doctor of Medicine. Bynoe completed his surgical residency at Richland Memorial Hospital, now Prisma Health Richland Hospital, then went on to a fellowship in trauma and critical care at the University of Tennessee-Memphis.

In 1988, Bynoe returned to his hometown to work at Richland Memorial Hospital and join the faculty of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, where he is now a clinical professor in the Department of Surgery.  In 1996, Bynow was appointed medical director of trauma service.

Bynoe has made it a primary mission to educate young people about issues such as trauma prevention and gang violence. He was one of the primary creators of Project READY - Realistic Education About Dying Young - which educates teens about the consequences of drinking and driving, violence and poor decision-making. Project Ready partnered with South Carolina Education Television to produce a program that followed teens as they toured Palmetto Health Richland’s Level One Trauma Center, experiencing first-hand some of the consequences of making poor choices. The show was nominated for a Regional EMMY and won a FREDDIE award.  

Bynoe also works with the Task Force on Athletic Health Issues to help increase parent, teacher and coaching staff awareness of sudden cardiac death and other athletic health issues affecting young athletes. The task force works to provide external automatic defibrillators and training on their use in high schools in Richland School District One.

Bynoe is a founder of the Society of Carolina Surgeons. He was honored by the School of Medicine with the Dean’s Medal for Outstanding Faculty in 2000 and the Distinguished School of Medicine Physician Alumni Award in 2001. In 2012, he was recognized by the South Carolina Hospital Association, and in 2018, Prisma Health Richland Hospital dedicated and named their new Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit in his honor.

Everett Dargan

Everett Dargan, M.D.

Everett L. Dargan, M.D., is a surgeon, educator and role model whose medical skills have impacted thousands of lives. He has inspired and mentored scores of physicians and health care professionals over the course of his career.

A native of Columbia, South Carolina, at the age of 15, Dargan received a scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta. He later graduated from the University of Buffalo and earned his medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. After completing his internship in Brooklyn, New York, he began his residency in general surgery at the Albert Einstein College of medicine in the Bronx, New York.

Dargan’s training was paused when he was called to active duty during the Korean War. He rose to the rank of captain and served as commander of the 3910th USAF Hospital at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall/Lakenheath in Suffolk, England. Following his discharge from the armed services, Dargan completed his medical training in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Boston University Medical Center. He returned to New York to become an associate professor of surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and director of surgery at Lincoln Hospital and Sydenham Hospital.

Dargan returned home to South Carolina in 1978, where he entered into private practice in thoracic, vascular and general surgery in Columbia and became one of the first African Americans to join the faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia as an associate professor of clinical surgery. He is a former chief of staff at Richland Memorial Hospital and also provided care to veterans at Dorn VA Medical Center for more than two decades. 

Dargan retired from active practice in 2004. He has been recognized with the Order of the Palmetto, by the Kappa Pi and Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor societies, as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and, in 2005, received a Congressional tribute from U.S. Congressman James Clyburn.

In 2005, the School of Medicine established a scholarship in Dargan’s honor to recruit, educate and retain underrepresented minority students, and in 2020, he received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award as a Friend of the School of Medicine.

Everlyn Hall-Baker

Everlyn Hall-Baker, M.D., '81

Everlyn Lilease Hall-Baker, M.D., made history as the first African American student at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, and one of only two women who were members of the inaugural class.

Hall-Baker, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, completed her undergraduate studies in zoology and botany at Howard University, Washington, D.C. in 1975. Recognizing the groundwork laid by her older sister, Benzena Louise Hall, who was among the second class of African American students to attend the University of South Carolina during desegregation, Hall-Baker applied to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. While waiting for the school to open, she worked as a substitute teacher, teaching science at Dreher and Keenan High Schools in Columbia.

Hall-Baker earned her Doctor of Medicine in 1981. She continued her internship and residency training in community health and family practice at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. She completed fellowship studies in faculty development at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Hall-Baker is board certified in family medicine. She eventually relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, and served as chief of family medicine with Kaiser Permanente for eight years before moving on to work with urgent cares of Atrium Health, Novant Health and First Care Medical Center. Hall-Baker is CEO of Gapover M.D., PLLC.

Hall-Baker is actively involved with several medical associations including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, American Academy of Family Practice, American Telemedicine Association, North Carolina Academy of Family Practice and Mecklenburg County Academy of Family Practice. As part of her roles with these organizations, she has volunteered many hours in the community offering health screenings. She is a true advocate for her patients.

Hall-Baker says she recognizes that she was called by her Lord Jesus Christ to be a physician. She gives praise for the steadfast support of her parents, and she also credits the faculty of the School of Medicine for the many opportunities in the training and exposure provided to various aspects of medicine. Hall-Baker continues to recommend the School of Medicine to prospective students.

Carol McMahon

Carol McMahon, M.D

Carol McMahon, M.D., has devoted herself to teaching, service and promoting an academically enriching and culturally supportive environment. As associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion and a clinical associate professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, she has been recognized for clinical excellence and compassion for her students and colleagues.

McMahon earned her Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and her Doctor of Medicine degree from Howard University College of Medicine. She completed an internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology followed by a residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, both at Howard University Hospital. After residency, McMahon conducted her fellowship in Forensic Pathology at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington, D.C., where she continued to work in the capacity of deputy medical examiner until relocating to South Carolina in 1993.

Before coming to the School of Medicine, she worked in the Pathology Department at Newberry County Memorial Hospital and in the Pathology Department at the Chester County Hospital and Nursing Center. She also worked as clinical director for the Migrant Health Program in the Office of Minority Health at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

McMahon joined the faculty at the School of Medicine in 1994, where she has remained actively involved in teaching pathology to medical and graduate students. She was named assistant dean for minority affairs in 1996, later changed to associate dean for diversity and inclusion in 2016. In that role, McMahon works with the dean of the School of Medicine, members of the dean's staff, faculty members and students as a liaison between the School of Medicine, state agencies, and professional and community organizations, with the goal of developing and implementing effective recruitment programs for underrepresented minority students. She also works to identify sources of extramural funding to support such programs.

McMahon has received numerous honors and awards for her teaching and service, including induction into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, the Dean’s Medal for Distinguished Service, and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. In 2020, the School of Medicine established the Carol L. McMahon, M.D., Diversity Scholarship in recognition of her career which has been dedicated to championing diversity and inclusion in medical education. The scholarship will provide support to underrepresented students.


Lurlene Scott

Lurlene Scott, MRC, '02

As a former member of the armed services, Lurlene Scott, MRC, recognizes the many needs of our nation’s veteran community.

A native of Tennessee, Scott joined the Army in 1976. Fifteen years later, she was discharged from service at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, as a disabled Gulf war veteran. Her military background and interest in the veteran community led to employment with the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Scott recognized the importance pursuing formal higher education. While working a full-time position with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, she began her pursuit for more education by earning an associate degree from Midlands Technical College in Columbia, South Carolina. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. Scott then earned a Master of Rehabilitation Counseling degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, completing her degree in 2002. Upon graduation, she was immediately appointed as a vocational rehabilitation counselor with the Department of Veterans Affairs. She received her national certification in 2008.

Scott served in a variety of roles with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, including benefits claims processing, working with homeless veterans, consulting and quality assurance. She provided counseling to individuals with disabilities and families with a variety of social and/or personal problems, utilizing various assessment and intervention techniques. In 2003, Scott was appointed Supervising Officer for the Veteran Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Office in Charleston, South Carolina.

Scott retired from the Veteran’s Administration after 40 years of service in 2020.  In 2017, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Christian Humanities from Body of Christ Ministry, School of the Great Commission. In 2018, Scott was selected as an inaugural member of the Dean’s Executive Advisory Council for the School of Medicine.

Scott says she is grateful for the opportunity to serve veterans and to give back to a deserving community and friends.

Alvin Wells

Alvin F. Wells, M.D., Ph.D., '88

Alvin F. Wells, M.D., Ph.D., has spent more than 25 years researching inflammatory disorders.

Wells earned his doctoral degree in immunology from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 1988. He later received his medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Florida. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he also completed a fellowship in rheumatology. He continues to serve as an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center. Wells is board-certified in rheumatology and is the director of the Rheumatology and Immunotherapy Center in Franklin, Wisconsin.

Wells’ clinical efforts focus on the management and treatment of all aspects of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis with an emphasis on connective tissue components, inflammatory mediators, and cytokines. He also is an advocate for the use of ultrasound in clinical practice.

An internationally renowned speaker, Wells has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, letters, book chapters and abstracts. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the American College of Rheumatology, and the American Telemedicine Association. Wells has received grant support from the Arthritis Foundation and from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and is currently the principal investigator for a number of clinical trials.

Wells is the recipient of numerous awards, including the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000 and the American College of Rheumatology Research Award. In 2001, he was honored with the Merck Young Investigator Award, and he is the recipient of the 2003 Abbott President’s Award. He also received the prestigious Fogarty Biomedical Research Award from the National Institutes of Health, which allowed him to undertake a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Patricia Witherspoon

Patricia Witherspoon, M.D.

Doctor, educator, mentor - words used to describe Patricia Wilson Witherspoon,M.D., a clinical associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia.

Inspired by her parent’s belief in the importance of education, Witherspoon received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. She went on receive a scholarship to study for a master’s degree in histology from Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. Initially discouraged from pursuing a degree in medicine, Witherspoon and her husband moved to Baltimore where she worked at Johns Hopkins University and rekindled her desire to attend medical school.

Witherspoon returned to Penn State’s College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to earn her Doctor of Medicine. She came to Prisma Health Richland, then Palmetto Health Richland, for her residency in family medicine. While there, she served as chief resident in her last year. She provided care for patients with Richland Primary Health Care Preventive Medicine Association for three years. In 1998, she joined the faculty for the School of Medicine, eventually serving as medical director for the Department of Family Medicine.

Witherspoon has served the medical community in a variety of volunteer roles. She was a member of the investigation team at the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center in the office of Rural Health Policy. She was a member of the South Carolina Cardiovascular Task Force, a subcommittee chair of the Tri-State Stroke Network. She has served as the interim medical director for the Family Medicine outpatient facility, the director of Community Outreach and on the quality team.

Her community appointments include the South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors, past pesident, where she serves on several subcommittees. She is an active member of the South Carolina Medical Association and participates in the Doctor of the Day program at the South Carolina state legislature. She is a member of the volunteer physician work force at the Columbia Free Clinic and the Good Samaritan Clinic. Witherspoon is board certified (Diplomat) and a Fellow in Family Medicine.

Witherspoon is a past recipient of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Diabetes Physician Champion Award and has been recognized twice with the School of Medicine’s Kay McFarland Women’s Health Award. She also received the Social Justice Award, given by the UofSC Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and she was honored as a physician teacher by the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Witherspoon considers it her responsibility to serve as a mentor not only to her medical students but to learners of all ages from high school students to junior faculty members, illustrating to them that  no matter the difficulties they may face, they can maximize their opportunities to make their dreams come true.

The school intentionally chose to hold the ceremony in February and to recognize seven individuals of color for its inaugural ceremony, as a special tribute to Black History Month. During the virtual event, the Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science Wall, located in the lobby of Building Three on the School of Medicine’s VA Campus, was unveiled.  The Wall features plaques honoring each of the inductees. The school plans to recognize at least five more individuals later this year; and, thereafter, will select several inductees each year to be added to the wall.   

"We would like to congratulate our inaugural honorees. Their images and stories, which will be showcased on our recognition wall and seen by our students each day as they enter our building will serve as an inspiration and guidepost to them as they pursue their dreams," said Dean Hall.

Watch the full presentation.

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