Gregory M. Dever '68
Coming of age in a tumultuous time, Greg Dever arrived on Mount St. James in 1964. Four years later he set upon his lifelong path of being a man for others—a journey that took him a world away from College Hill.
Greg joined the Peace Corps, taking his Holy Cross training in English literature to the western edge of the Pacific, to a remote area of the District of Palua, then a United States Trust Territory, and became a teacher. But lessons were overshadowed by the suffering and disease he witnessed every day. He saw families devastated by illness and infection. By the health consequences of nuclear weapons testing. By severe malnutrition crippling unvaccinated children. Routine medical care was six hours away by boat. The threat of death was ever present.
In this world, Greg heard the call to medicine. He returned to Boston, took pre med courses at Boston University for three years, at the same time teaching at a community college, driving a cab, working as a ward clerk at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. And he was rejected time and again from medical schools. Finally accepted to the John A Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, he returned to the Pacific, learning more about people, health care systems, and the everyday challenges in this part of the world. He worked for the National Health Service in Guam, and began a specialty in treating childhood ear infections, which carried the risk of deafness, even death. He became a board certified pediatrician in 1984, 16 years after graduating from Holy Cross.
Greg has dedicated his professional life to improving medical care in the South Pacific and setting up systems for training health care providers. For 10 years, he was director of the Pacific Basin Medical Officers Training Program, which educated and trained 70 indigenous Micronesians and American Samoans as physicians. Half of his graduates were women. This cohort now forms the backbone of the public health and healthcare service infrastructure in the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau and American Samoa, and is the reason the physician shortage in Micronesia has been eradicated.
Navigating bureaucracy and politics, Greg brought more than $19 million in grants to numerous health care training, education, and clinical programs in Micronesia. He worked with the World Health Organization to rejuvenate the Fiji School of Medicine. In the past year he coordinated the WHO program “Human Resources for Health,” developing a roadmap to formalize medical, public health and allied health education for the people and healthcare providers in the Pacific Islands. He maintains an in-demand professional life, traveling internationally to lecture, participate in symposia, and present at conferences.
For his work in Micronesia over four decades, for his promotion of justice through healthcare, for his mission to cultivate doctors and his perpetual sense of caritas, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Gregory M. Dever the Sanctae Crucis Award.