For over 30 years, the alumni of the UNC Pediatric Residency Program have had a very active Alumni Society which holds Triennial meetings in Chapel Hill. The Society is named in honor of Dr. Floyd W. Denny, Jr., who was Chair of Pediatrics from 1960 to 1981. The purpose of the Society is to support the educational missions of the residency and fellowship programs, and to keep alumni in touch with each other and friends of the Department. In 1994, the Society endowed an annual Lectureship which brings in outstanding pediatric educators and scientists to enrich the educational experience of our housestaff and fellows. In addition, each year the Society provides financial support for resident retreats, AAP memberships, small research projects and travel to the annual meeting of the North Carolina Pediatric Society.
The Floyd W. Denny Jr. Distinguished Professorship was established in 2005 to honor the career, ideals and memory of the late Dr. Denny, who was chairman of the UNC Department of Pediatrics for 21 years and served on the faculty for 41 years.
A History of the Floyd W. Denny Pediatric Society
In 1974, the first Pediatric Alumni Reunion was held in Chapel Hill, all previous gatherings having occurred at state and national meetings. Since Dr. Ed Curnen (the first Department Chair) had recently retired, a dedication of the 7th floor Pediatric Conference Room, in his name, was included. This initial Pediatric Alumni Club meeting, October 3-4, 1975, featured talks by Nelson Ordway (1st cardiologist), Robert Winters (former resident and fellow), John Raye (former resident and chief resident) and Ray Antley (resident). A highlight was Saturday Grand Rounds with Dr. Denny. New officers elected were Jerry Bernstein, president; George Hemmingway, vice-president; and Jerry Fernald, secretary-treasurer. A tri-annual format was planned for future meetings.
In 1981, Dr. Denny having retired as chair of Pediatrics, the name of the group was changed to the Floyd W. Denny Pediatric Society and all alumni and friends of the Department were invited to participate in a fund-raising drive in support of future programs. The third tri-annual meeting, May 21st, 1981 began with a luncheon for wives with Barbara Denny and Anne Fernald (how times have changed!) Featured speakers were Drs. Charles Rammelkamp, Lewis Wannamaker and Robert Merrill. "Rammel" discussed the "History of Research on Group A Streptococcus and Rheumatic Fever", reviewing Dr. Denny’s involvement in this subject area.
Tri-annual meetings, interspersed with yearly Denny Visiting Professors continued, one of the most successful including a 1987 luncheon comprised of all former chief residents and the three Pediatric Chairs; Drs. Curnen, Denny and Thomas Boat (who arrived in 1982). Saturday rounds with Dr. Denny evolved into workshops on subjects of interest to pediatric practitioners who comprised the majority of attendees.
In 1993, reaching mandatory retirement at age 70, Dr. Denny was honored with a special program entitled "Forty Years of Pediatrics at UNC". A thorough revue of historical events with archival photographs framed presentations by Herb Harned, Cam McMillan, Neil Kirkman, and John Raye. Reviews of the Curnen and Boat decades bracketed this program. Saturday morning skits, masterminded by Muff Carr, commemorated the legendary weekly "Denny" rounds with house-staff. The audience, with Floyd and Tom Boat in the front row, was hilariously entertained by these true-to-life antics of present resident volunteer actors, led by Paul Monahan doing the "Denny Dip".
The tri-annual meeting format has continued under the leadership of the FWD Society Executive Committee. Resident training and programs are supported through annual scholarship awards and funding of scientific and social activities with proceeds from a substantial Medical Foundation capital investment raised during the 1990’s. The challenge to all is to keep The Society active and growing in the post-Denny era.
(For a more thorough historical review, please see "From Infancy to Maturity", the History of the Department of Pediatrics, UNC, Chapel Hill, 1995. Floyd W. Denny, editor, 1996.) - Jerry Fernald, 2007