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FSU Awards Honorary Degree to Pediatrician Charlotte Maguire

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By Jill Elish
February 2002

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Dr. Charlotte Edwards Maguire, a distinguished pediatrician and supporter of the Florida State University College of Medicine, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in a ceremony at 5 p.m. Feb. 14 in the College of Medicine Administration Building.

"Dr. Maguire is a pioneer for women in medical sciences and an inspiration for future doctors," said FSU President Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte. "She has dedicated her career to caring for those who needed it most - minorities, disabled children and the indigent - and has helped FSU establish a medical school where that philosophy will flourish."

In 1999, Maguire donated $1 million to FSU's then Program in Medical Sciences and later the College of Medicine to create the Charlotte Edwards Maguire College of Medicine Dean's Chair and to endow student scholarships. The next year she was an outspoken advocate for the creation of the College of Medicine, and she has since donated an additional $1 million to create an eminent scholar chair in geriatrics. The gift will allow the FSU College of Medicine to recruit an eminent scholar in geriatrics who can focus attention on the special needs of an aging population.

"Dr. Maguire has been actively involved with our students, and these gifts are helping to prepare the next generation of Florida physicians," said Dr. Joseph E. Scherger, dean of the College of Medicine. "Her vision and her desire to make a difference in the lives of future doctors and patients truly exemplify her ideals."

Now a Tallahassee resident, Maguire was born in 1918 and grew up in Orlando. She earned her bachelor's degree from Memphis Teachers College in 1940

and her medical degree in 1944 from the University of Arkansas, where she was the only woman in her class. The opening of her pediatric practice in Orlando after her graduation was greeted with the newspaper headline "Orlando's first girl doctor returns." She took a special interest in children with disabilities, and from the beginning of her practice, she provided free services to those in need.

In 1949, she was appointed director of the Orlando Child Health Clinic. From 1947 to 1956, she served as chief of staff for the Central Florida Division of Children's Home Society of Florida and became the first woman president of the Florida Pediatric Society in 1952. She served as a delegate to the World Health Conference in London in 1957, working directly with Prince Phillip who was the honorary chair.

She then served as chief of the department of pediatrics at Mercy Hospital in Orlando from 1965 to 1968.

Maguire also assumed leadership roles in state and national health care organizations between 1952 and 1970. She helped create the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, now operating as the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Families. She founded the Irish and American Pediatric Society in 1965 and in 1970 was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Commendation by London's Two Thousand Women of Distinction.

She was one of the highest ranking women in the federal government under the Nixon Administration as assistant secretary of health and scientific affairs for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Atlanta. She returned to Florida in 1975 to take a position as medical services director for HRS in Tallahassee. From 1980 to 1987, Maguire was a member of the clinical staff in the department of pediatrics at the University of Florida.

A life membership in the Florida Medical Association was conferred upon Maguire in 1981. In addition, she was named International Woman of the Year in 1992-93 by the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge.

Maguire's honorary degree will be the 107th conferred by the university.