5 Questions for a Brunonian: Jeffrey Hines ’83 MD’86
From the professor who changed everything to his current role in University leadership, Jeffrey Hines reflects on how Brown has shaped his career, his life, and his community.
Meet Jeffrey Hines ’83 MD’86
Atlanta-based oncologist and Brown Corporation Fellow reflects on campus memories, why he serves Brown, and how that service has impacted his work.
Why did you choose Brown?
I went to a public high school in Long Island, New York, and there were very few students of color that went to Ivy League schools. One day, a Brown student — Pedro Noguera ’81, who is now dean of the Rossier School of Education at USC — came to my high school and asked guidance counselors if he could have an audience with Black and brown students who particularly might be interested in going to an Ivy League school, but that opportunity was never spoken to them about. I was a good student and I was one of the persons that was tapped. Talking to Pedro that day changed my life. I did some reading about Brown and the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), and that was the on-ramp I took to Brown and I've never looked back.
What experiences from your time at Brown stand out to you?
Meeting Levi Adams ’75 who still remains a mentor to me all these years later. He was then Vice President of External Affairs for Biology and Medicine, and he quickly became a mentor to me professionally and somewhat spiritually as well. One summer, he helped get me a job at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease lab, now run by Dr. Anthony Fauci. Throughout my career at Brown, whether it was undergrad or medical school, during my fellowship, in my professional career out of training, he's continued to be someone who has set up guardrails and opened doors for me. He's someone I still call regularly to check in and ask for advice.
And then the whole experience of Brown for me, in as much as I was able to grow spiritually, I was able to grow personally. I met my bride of almost 34 years now at Brown. Our child was baptized in one of the local churches on campus. I grew professionally and I grew socially as well. My best friends to this day, the people I still stay in touch with weekly are my Brown classmates—including my roommate from sophomore year who I talk to every other day. That ability to grow spiritually, personally, professionally, socially, was so important and so grounding to me as I left Brown.
Why do you volunteer for Brown today?
My favorite part of volunteering certainly involves students. I started out interviewing prospective students. Because my experience was so incredible, why not help students have a similar type of experience? The ability to move from someone who did interviewing to someone with a leadership role in the Inman Page Black Alumni Council, to have been nominated to serve as a trustee and to be elected was just incredible — to continue to do this work for generations of students to follow and for the alumni who were so generous of their time and their talent and their treasure to sustain Brown as it is.
On the Corporation, I've been able to translate that back to the community. The lessons I've learned and the opportunities that I've been given in my role as a trustee, a fellow, and some leadership positions — especially in the space of diversity, equity, and inclusion — I now get to bring that back to the local Atlanta level and to my health system. For example, our health system team here in Atlanta is charged with developing a strategy to reach out to communities at risk for coronavirus. Some of those best practices are things that we're doing at Brown right now. Hopefully, I'm bringing some of those best practices to Brown, but clearly I am bringing a lot of what I have learned from Brown to my community.
Over the past six years that I've served, five years as a trustee and now in my first year as a fellow, it's been very humbling for folks at Brown to really want my opinion about something that I may have some expertise in, or just want to talk something through. How are you addressing X, Y, or Z in healthcare? Help us bring some of that best practice to what we're doing in academe. The ability to do the same thing with those folks has been very important to me in service to Brown. I think it's also important that members of the corporation are truly supportive of the corporation being representative of what Brown is and who Brown is. It's exciting to be a part of an organization that certainly acknowledges the richness of the diversity that Jeff Hines brings to it from all of those aspects: a medical school graduate, someone who lives in Atlanta, Georgia in the Southeast, but as a Black male as well.
What are your hopes for the impact of your involvement with Brown?
As mentioned, Levi's a hero to me. Next to my parents, it's Levi Adams who's really shaped a lot of my professional career. Being able to be a part of the genesis of the Levi Adams Scholarship was so near and dear to my heart. When we were asking people to participate, we were asking undergraduate alumni to give to a scholarship fund for medical students at Brown. And there was no hesitancy at all. People like me were shaped and mentored by Levi, and those types of scholarships that honor someone like Levi are critical.
I am also excited about the Inman Page Black Alumni Council Brown Annual Fund Scholarship as a way to sustain that pipeline of incredibly talented Black students coming to Brown. What is so remarkable about that scholarship is that it's seen robust contributions not only from members of the Black community, but from all across the Brown community. Because Brown as a community realizes the importance and the richness of bringing students of different backgrounds, of different ethnicities and cultures to its institution. It's a testimony and a testament: to who we are as an institution and how we embrace diversity in everything that we do.
What I'm most proud of is that legacy we continue to leave for future generations of students to come to Brown... and the incredible faculty to teach those students. The legacy that we leave as an organization on society, the local community, and the greater community nationally, and internationally.
What professional achievement or contribution are you most proud of, and why?
I'm a gynecologic oncologist and I'm proud of that. There were not, and still are not, a lot of Black gynecologic oncologists in the United States. But right now, professionally, what I'm most proud of is a new role that I've taken on as the medical director of diversity, inclusion, and health equity for our health system. This work allows me to bring passion and some scholarly work that I've done here, but also a lot of experiential work that was founded at Brown. The work I do with chairing the ad hoc committee on the implementation of the Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan program and working with President Christina H. Paxson, Chancellor Sam Mencoff, and Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity Shontay Delalue has been formative for me.
Bonus Round: You find a time machine and can go back to your first year at Brown and tell your younger self one thing. What would it be?
I was a nerd my freshman year, and I think if I was to go back, I could still be an incredibly successful first semester freshmen and also do more of the Brown experience. I think I was too focused on the academic piece and perhaps missed out on some other things. Perhaps I could have done it all. I could have managed my time a little better then. I could have been that incredible student, but I could have done some other things also.
This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
Currently the Medical Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and the Center for Health Equity and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology with WellStar Health System in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Jeffrey Hines began his career in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, deploying as a battalion surgeon during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Following his deployment, Hines held academic teaching positions at Texas A&M College of Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences, and Morehouse School of Medicine. As a Brown undergraduate, Hines held leadership roles in the Third World Center (now the Brown Center for Students of Color) and the black premedical society. Later, as a medical student, he served on the admissions committee and delivered the student address at the Medical School’s Commencement ceremony. After graduating, he served as the founding chair of the Alpert Medical School's Advancing Diversity Committee, a co-chair for the Atlanta-area Brown Alumni Schools Committee (now Alumni Interviewing Program), and as a member of the Brown Medical Alumni Association Board of Directors. He received Brown’s Leadership Award in 2003. He is currently co-chair of the Brown Annual Fund and a Fellow of the Brown Corporation.