Dr. David P. Faxon, a member of the Hamilton class of 1967 and an Alpha Delta Phi brother, presented the fourth installment in this year's Alpha Delta Phi Lecture series on April 20 in KJ's Red Pit. Faxon is currently a professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at University of Chicago Hospital and was the former president of the American Heart Association. Faxon discussed his personal experiences with angioplasty, his life and research in the field of cardiology, and his experiences with the American Heart Association.
Faxon began by describing his life, including his years here on the Hill. When Faxon was in prep school just north of Boston, his academic advisor suggested that he attend Hamilton College. (Faxon's academic advisor was a Hamilton alum as well.) Faxon recalled his family being slightly apprehensive of his college choice, as it was "too far west," or as he explained, west of the Hudson River. Faxon decided to come to Hamilton College and graduated in 1967. He recalled his Hamilton years as "the greatest experience" of his life. Faxon loved the rigors of Hamilton academics, but found it was his fraternity brothers and friends that made his college years the most rewarding.
A long legacy of doctors was part of Faxon's family; both his grandfathers were doctors. Faxon admired his grandfathers and decided medicine was the path for him. The legacy and the inspiration of his grandfather, Nathanial Faxon, carried him though his college years.
After attending Boston University for graduate school, Faxon went to Dartmouth to study internal medicine. At both BU and Dartmouth, professors took him under their wings, and helped him to reach his academic goals. At first Faxon thought he would go into endocrinology; however, he opted to study cardiology. Cardiology, he explained, combined the two things he loved the most: gadgets and logic.
Faxon returned to Boston University and met Thomas Ryan. Ryan was Faxon's advisor at BU and his mentor. Faxon described Ryan as one of the "major influences" in his life. Ryan directed Faxon, and was a "critical part" of Faxon's professional success.
Faxon then discussed the history of cardiology, highlighting the people and technology that were involved in making medical advances in the field from the early 1900s up to today. He also explained how he became involved in angioplasty. Today, more than 700,000 angioplasty operations are done in the United States; it is the largest procedure done here as heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S.
Faxon's message was inspiring to students in an academic way; with hard work and determination, he showed students that nothing is impossible. Aside from academics, however, Faxon emphasized the importance of mentors, explaining how mentors help guide people not just academically but personally. A mentor, Faxon explained, can be a family member, a friend, a relative, or a professor. However, a mentor is very different from a teacher or advisor, as the mentor cares about you and your life, helping you to make the best decisions for you, Faxon explained. Faxon's mentor was one of the most important people in his life, and he urged students to consider a mentor to help guide them through their professional career and their personal life.
The lecture was presented by the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity as part of the AD Lecture Series. The Series was established in 2002 to help enrich the Hamilton community by bringing back the literary tradition of the organization. Faxon's lecture was co-sponsored by the Dean of Faculty.
-- by Emily Lemanczyk '05