2007 Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award
Eddie L. Hoover ’65
African-Americans in his class of 1,600 undergraduates. With the help of a full-tuition scholarship, and for reasons that escape him now, he finished his chemistry degree in three years. “College is the most fun time of your life,” he says. “I have no idea why I was in such a hurry.”
He did, though, give himself enough time to develop a lifelong devotion to Carolina basketball. In fact, he and his classmate Ozie Faison ’65 were the first African-Americans to try out for the basketball team. “I realized then what Division I basketball is all about,” Eddie recalls. “I decided I’d better go back to the library and study.”
He was definitely in his league there. Encouraged by Dean Cornelius Cathey, he went on to study medicine at Duke, where he was only the second African- American to enroll. As president of the student body there, Eddie devoted considerable energy to helping others succeed — he started one of the first programs to improve the acceptance rate of African-Americans to medical school — and he has maintained that pattern ever since. In subsequent years, in subsequent roles, he has mentored, helped and encouraged countless high school, college and medical students, and he has fostered the professional development of his colleagues as well.
Now professor of surgery at SUNY-Buffalo and associate chief of staff at the Buffalo VA Medical Center, Dr. Hoover helped found the Society of Black Academic Surgeons and was the first African-American to serve on the editorial board of a major thoracic journal. For the last seven years, between serving patients, training surgeons, and helping his colleagues grow professionally, he has made twice-a-year trips to sub-Saharan Africa to distribute medical supplies and equipment and conduct medical education programs. On a recent trip to Nigeria, he saw more than 1,000 patients in five days.
Eddie’s prodigious energy extends to his hobbies, like the farm where he and his wife Gwendolyn raise Appaloosa horses, peacocks and German shepherds. “He’s always out there with his animals, digging ditches to Niagara Falls, doing stuff all the time,” says Karen Parker ’65.
Whatever he’s doing, he does it while steadily cracking up those around him and providing them with a steady stream of Hooverisms to live by. And his gregarious nature prompts him to do things such as inviting all the participants in a big, three-day medical conference out to the farm.
“Bring the kids, bring a skateboard,” he’ll say, relates Dr. Harvey Bumpers, to whom Eddie has been a mentor and friend for years. “He can’t buy a regular steak for each person — he has to buy a five-pound steak and enough corn for everybody to have five ears.”
Eddie has worked tirelessly for the survival of historically black medical schools, and he has encouraged a steady stream of stellar students to come to Carolina. The first African American from Charlotte to attend the University, he likes to think he started a trend. Thank you, Dr. Hoover, for blazing the trail and for providing such support for those who came along behind you.