Dr. May L. Votaw
2002 Honorary Alumni
The call to practice medicine and give care to those who were hurting came early to Dr. May Votaw. She grew up in South India where her parents were missionaries. Her father was a minister and her mother a doctor. She graduated from Hope College then went on to the University of Michigan for her medical education. After that, she completed her residency in Internal Medicine as well as a fellowship in Hematology/Medical Oncology with Boards in all three fields.
Dr. Votaw decided to stay in academic medicine her entire career, helping to teach others to diagnose and treat patients. She first began teaching at the University of Michigan. In July of 1978, she came to East Tennessee State University when the Quillen College of Medicine was in its infancy. She became a Professor of Internal Medicine, and went on to be named Chief of the Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology. She has taught hundreds of medical students, medical residents, and fellows in Medical Oncology, and had a medical practice as part of the ETSU University Physicians.
Dr. Votaw saw a special need to be involved with those patients who suffer from terminal illnesses. She served as the medical director of the Johnson City Medical Center's Hospice from 1983 to 1995 and promoted special courses for physicians to learn how to deal with a dying patient and give them dignity in their final days. She also started the First Tennessee Region Hemophilia program. As a member of the Piedmont Oncology Association and National Oncology Groups, Dr. Votaw participated in studies of chemotherapies that might bring better results in the treatment of patients with cancer. As an advocate for women in medicine, she helped start the office for women's affairs in the Quillen College of Medicine.
During her notable career, Dr. Votaw's work has not gone unnoticed. In 1997, Hope College awarded her a Distinguished Alumni Award. She has published 33 articles and 11 abstracts relating to the medical field and care of patients. Remarkably, with all Dr. Votaw has done, she still had time to raise three children, John, Diana and Paul.
However, after providing 40 years of patient care, Dr. Votaw decided to treat herself to retirement. She became a Master Gardener by completing courses through the University of Tennessee Extension Service. She is now president of the Shady Oaks Garden Club, a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc. Through this association, she assisted in the development of the Arboretum on the ETSU campus and serves on its board of advisors. She and her husband now travel the world, play golf, read, enjoy opera, and do anything interesting that comes along.