A Mother's Generosity and a Son's Dedication
For Robert L. Jackson, M.D. '78, Meharry is like a family. "When you leave, you want
to give back to your family."
Through the foresight of his mother, Violet Burden Jackson, Ph.D., Dr. Jackson has secured his place in history with Meharry Medical College.
Jackson graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a zoology degree in 1974 and from Meharry’s School of Medicine in 1978. He remembers Meharry fondly. “As students we were trained to be compassionate and serve those who otherwise would not get any help,” he said. “Our professors were accessible and prepared us thoroughly for our boards. They genuinely wanted us to succeed.”
In 2003, Jackson’s mother died from ovarian cancer. A year before her death, she made the decision that “her family had to do something meaningful and lasting for Meharry Medical College.” For years, Jackson had already been contributing monthly to Meharry, but, his mother wanted to do more.
At the time of her death, Jackson's mother stipulated that a portion of their estate be donated to Meharry for the establishment of a Charitable Lead Trust Fund known as the Robert L. Jackson, M.D. Class of 1978 Scholarship. Funds from this scholarship are made available to a student, or several students, to help defray their financial burdens of the cost of medical school. Jackson says the trust is being further invested so the funds toward the scholarship will be eternally sustained.
“My parents were fervent educators, and extraordinary individuals, both of them earning a Ph.D.,” Jackson said. Consequently, he was not surprised by his mother’s bequest. His father, Lewis Albert Jackson, Ph.D., was president of Central State University from 1970-1972 and his mother was the head of Central State’s Department of Education. In October 1940, Jackson’s father was called to Tuskegee University where he was appointed Director of Flight Training for the infamous Tuskegee Airmen.
In 2009, Jackson became an inaugural member of the Guardians of Our Legacy of Meharry Medical College, the outstanding group of benefactors who have given the college $100,000 or more.
Jackson demonstrates impressive humility when speaking about being a Guardian, saying he is blessed to be able to contribute in such a manner. “Meharry plays a huge role in helping minorities get into medicine,” he said. “It’s like a family. When you leave, you want to give back to your family.” Jackson believes alumni cannot let Meharry go away and die, stating that it’s too important to America’s health care. He believes alumni should support Meharry through all phases of the giving cycle.
“This institution has turned out so many physicians with so little resources,” said Jackson. “Meharry is an important institution in the United States and I hope it will be able to continue forever.”
Dr. Jackson is a practicing dermatologist in Stockton, Calif. He and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 33 years and have two sons, Ryan and Ian.