Dr James Cotelingam writes about our organization

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Laly Paul, our President, asked to pen my thoughts on the NAA during my convalescence from knee replacements in November. While I did this right away, I have dragged my feet on the follow through. For this, please excuse me.

The NAA of CMC Ludhiana is the brainchild of the late Don Wysham, Professor of Cardiology at CMC in the 60s. In 1981, Don contacted Sarj Gill and floated the idea that the NAA should form an association. Sarj followed through by sending out a communication to all the Alumni he knew. Enthusiastic responses included these from SA Nallathaimbi and Harish Anand. This resulted in the first meeting of the NAA in New Orleans in 1982. During the subsequent years leadership in the association changed, and Seva Singh served as Secretary, bringing focus to the organization. Annual meetings became an anticipated and popular activity. Publishing a directory with contact information was a Herculean task, and has involved numerous individuals.

Several decades prior to the establishment of the NAA, CMC Ludhiana and Vellore set up independent boards in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The principle function of these Boards was public relations, to serve as Clearing Houses for those interested in a missionary commitment, and as resources for funds from churches and individuals interested supporting these two hospitals. The Ludhiana Board started as a loose collection of dedicated individuals in the Philadelphia area in the early 1900s. From the late 50s, the Executive Director of this body was Charles Reynolds. Under his leadership, numerous foreign dignitaries came to visit CMC, and due to his effort, millions of dollars poured in. This resulted in the building of the Mitchell Memorial Hostel for technologists, Nurses’ Hostel, new Women’s Hostel for Medical Students and Dental College. Additionally, Charles built bridges between the Board and Governing body, generations of Medial Students, Alumni, Administrators and Doctors. More recently, Roberta Jones as Executive Director has made numerous trips to CMC and among her many contributions with Abey Thomas’ direction, a mechanism of channeling documents for the NAA from CMC such as Certificates needed for licensure and credentialing. The present Executive Director is Max Marble. We welcome him to this important assignment. You can count on him to continue to help NAA with document requirements from the Principal’s Office. Although the Executive Director attends the Annual NAA meetings and reports a summary of the Boards financial statement, there is neither a financial or administrative relationship between us. Members of the Board are our allies. The current president of their body is Dorothy Barbo, former Professor of OBGYN at CMC.

As the voice of the NAA became established, so was their interest in student admissions, visitations to the Alma Mater and technology transfer. Visiting NAA have lectured on a regular basis, held workshops, raised funds for special visits, bought and purchased equipment, given of their time and opened their homes to CMC Staff visiting the United States on sabbatical. In 1998, CMC underwent a severe financial and administrative crisis and was close to being shut down. The NAA responded with financial support, and voted to have Silas Charles, one of our Alumni to serve as an interim Director. With the subsequent appointment of Abey Thomas to this position, the institution has stabilized, flourished and once again assumed a high National rating among Medical Colleges in India and abroad.

Consolidation of the Alumni Association at CMC into a vibrant entity has been a step in the right direction. Their newsletter is filled with new developments and historical vignettes. Please get on their e-mail list if you are not. As NAA of CMC, we are privileged to be Ambassadors for our school. I often ask myself where I would be if it were not for the training and mentoring I received there. Perhaps you have asked yourself the same question. If our “mother” once did for us, I would not loose an opportunity to do for “her”.


James D. Cotelingam
Graduating MBBS Class of 1966