CINCINNATI—At the annual meeting of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity in Houston Aug. 6, Alvin Crawford, MD, was bestowed the Laurel Wreath award—the fraternity’s highest award for a member’s achievement in service to the fraternity or in human endeavors, national or international.
Kappa Alpha Psi is predominantly African-American fraternity with over 105,000 members, and has only awarded the Laurel Wreath to 71 members since its inception in 1911.
“Since my induction in 1959, the principles of Kappa Alpha Psi have guided me, never knowing that I would someday be awarded this great honor for which I will hold sacred until the day of my death,” said Crawford, a professor emeritus of pediatric orthopedic surgery in the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.
Crawford is considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, which allows surgeons to insert rods through small incisions to straighten the spine.
In his address to an audience of approximately 3,500 Kappa members, Crawford recalled how, as an undergraduate at Tennessee State University in 1959, he was fascinated by the achievements of past Laurel Wreath honorees and how he began to incorporate the characteristics and attributes into his own life’s work … going on to become the first African-American admitted to and graduated from the University of Tennessee’s medical college (‘64).
“I have made achievement a lifestyle and not a goal,” he said of the numerous other honors and awards he has since received including: the Daniel Drake Medal from the UC College of Medicine (its highest academic honor) in 2006, the Trumpet award in 2009 and the Diversity award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 2007. Crawford is past president of the Scoliosis Research Society and of the John Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society.
Crawford’s charitable contributions to society extend to providing orthopedic care to undeserved children around the world, especially those with clubfoot and severe spinal deformities. His teaching in the Third World has brought residents, fellows, attending surgeons and nurses to Cincinnati as fellows or observers to further their study of foot and spine deformities and other musculoskeletal conditions.
Crawford is the founding director of the Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and in 2004 was honored with the dedication of the Crawford Chair in Pediatric Orthopaedics and a subsequent chair in spine surgery. He is also an attending physician with UC Health Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
In his acceptance speech he identifies his mission as a Laurel Wreath holder, he said, which is two-fold: to assist with ways to increase the number of African-American physicians in the health care ranks and to encourage African-American men to be culturally sensitive to women through language and deeds.
The significance of this award, he noted, was that it remains in perpetuity, “to hopefully inspire African-Americans as well as others to do well, and join the ranks of an organization that honors high achievers.”