Opening the door to lives of service
Dr. James Dean, Jimmy to most who know him, spent the majority of his professional career as a physician in Louisville, Kentucky, where he and his partners grew a small, three-person practice into a medical group with 14 physicians handling over 70,000 patient visits per year. Jimmy’s proudest accomplishment is having served his community honorably for 28 years in a manner that helped promote the cause of Christ through service to others regardless of economics, race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity.
As a graduate of Berea College, Jimmy also knows that the ability to serve one’s community requires receiving support as well. Originally from Owsley County in southeastern Kentucky, his early life was marked by the type of poverty too often found in region. But, thanks to the recommendation of a high school teacher, Jimmy came to Berea in 1962 at the age of 16.
Even before he arrived on campus, Jimmy knew he wanted to be a physician, so he enrolled as a chemistry major. Jimmy credits the college with excellent academic preparation and with helping him mature as a person. The college’s commitment to serve “all peoples of the Earth” continues to be a strong influence on his life, and one he hopes all students at Berea embrace. Jimmy says, “graduates of this institution have an obligation to support it in whatever way they can, sometimes financially, sometimes with time and energy” because of the strong moral and ethical foundation provided by the college.
Over the years, Jimmy has embraced this obligation by giving to a wide variety of initiatives including the Berea Fund, the Hall Science renovation (1983), the Seabury Center, and the HAPS Conference for Nursing. His most recent gift will support a classroom in the Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences & Health building. He is particularly passionate about this project because he knows how important first-rate facilities are to inspiring interest and growth in the sciences. Having studied at Berea when the Hall Science building had already begun to show its age, he went on to the University of Kentucky (UK) to study medicine. Despite his own initial concerns about his ability compete against students who had attended larger institutions with more modern labs, like Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia, Berea served him well. “One of the nicest honors I received was being named outstanding physician in my class at UK,” says Jimmy. He gives much of the credit for his success in medical school to the close relationships he formed with the excellent teaching faculty at Berea, especially his mentor, Dr. Thomas Beebe, who he describes as an “extremely dedicated and very kind person.”
He counts himself lucky to have attended UK Medical School when their science facilities were new and completely up-to-date. “It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating that you are part of the beginning of something great,” says Jimmy. He believes that Berea’s new science building will be a door for faculty and students to better serve their communities, and, he says, “who knows, we might even get another Nobel Laureate” like Dr. John Fenn ′37.