The Legacy of ACC Past Presidents

ACC’s past presidents are critical repositories of the College’s history, serve as invaluable mentors for ACC’s emerging leaders and continue to make important contributions to the ACC long after they have passed on the presidential chain. Ultimately, past presidents represent the continuity and tradition that is the foundation of the College.

I had the privilege of seeing ACC past presidents in action during the Past Presidents’ Forum held during ACC.17 in Washington, DC. Convened by outgoing ACC President Richard A. Chazal, MD, MACC, along with ACC CEO Shal Jacobovitz, the Forum was designed to keep past presidents informed of the College’s strategic direction, to take advantage of their collective wisdom and to gain input to help refine the work of the College in the context of its Strategic Plan.

Cardiology Magazine Image"We will meet the future not merely by dreams but by concerned action and inextinguishable enthusiasm." Franz Groedel, MD, MACC

During the Forum, past presidents were brought up to speed on ACC activities in the areas of Maintenance of Certification, health care reform, hospital accreditation and a broader health system strategy, ACC governance transformation and plans to begin the process for a new Strategic Plan. We were able to share our ideas and discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead – the output of which will be communicated to the ACC’s Board of Trustees.

As the ACC continues to phase in changes to its governance process and structure, the Forum has evolved as a means of keeping past presidents involved in the College and gaining their insights regarding its strategic direction. During my ACC presidential year, I invited ACC’s past presidents to our 2013 ACC Strategic Planning Retreat in Banff, Canada, for them to contribute to the College’s strategic planning process. Fifteen past presidents participated in the Banff strategic planning process, including Forrest Adams, MD, MACC, who at that time was the oldest living past ACC president. I believe our Strategic Plan is stronger because of their participation and I am glad for the opportunities provided by the Forum for similar dialogue and sharing.

This inclusion of past presidents is not a new phenomenon, however. It is part of the ACC’s culture and history to learn from its predecessors, founders and elders. In 1949, Franz Groedel, MD, MACC, and the founders of the ACC envisioned an organization dedicated to providing “professional men and women actively engaged in practice or research relating to diseases of the heart and circulation” with education and other services to improve the quality of cardiovascular care. “We will meet the future not merely by dreams but by concerned action and inextinguishable enthusiasm,” said Groedel.

Since then, the actions and enthusiasm of ACC leaders who followed in Groedel’s footsteps have grown the College into a more than 52,000-member global professional cardiovascular society, serving the entire cardiovascular team including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers. Sixty-eight years later, ACC’s many initiatives in education, science and quality, advocacy and member services have evolved and grown as a result of the vision and leadership of the men and women at the College’s helm.

Bernard of Chartres said that “we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.” Our past presidents are the giants. It’s on their shoulders that ACC leaders both current and future stand.

French writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry said: “As for the future, our task is not to foresee it, but to enable it” and “a rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” Over the last nearly seven decades, ACC presidents have enabled the College to move forward and become the professional home for cardiovascular care providers around the world that it is today.

From the Past Presidents’ Forum to Convocation, where past presidents were honored on the dais and ACC’s newest president received the Presidential Chain, ACC.17 was a reminder of the celebration, tradition, transition and renewal that is the ACC presidency. Each and every past ACC president has played a role in the College’s history and each will continue to shape its future.

Cardiology Magazine Image

John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, is past president of the ACC and editor-in-chief of Cardiology.

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Leadership, ACC History, ACC Annual Scientific Session, ACC17

< Back to Listings