Finding Our Way Forward

With the violent events of the past week, and especially last night, the world continues to remind us of the need to act against racism. It is important to remember that our work going forward is not isolated in the Medical School, but in close coordination with the University and our communities. Please read President Gabel’s message about the evolving actions to keep the Twin Cities Campus safe for everyone.

The defacement of the George Floyd Memorial last week sparked rigorous engagement from our faculty, staff, and learners. Thank you for your formal petitions for change. My leadership team and I are reviewing all of these appeals and developing a framework to address them.

The death of George Floyd, and the many acts of prejudice that we continue to experience, call upon us all to examine what we can do to bring change. The statements of Medical School leadership expressing our outrage, condemning acts of racism, and committing to the necessary action to transform our school and the healthcare systems we serve must be converted into action.

Many of our colleagues have been working hard to fight bias and racism in our institution and disparities in healthcare for many years. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Activities Report chronicles their many efforts and is a strong reminder of the value of coming together in these matters. The best way to support them is to do more to join in the effort.

In addition, we launched the Rapid Response Grants this summer as an initiative to further reduce racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare. We have funded eight innovative proposals to address how racism is affecting healthcare and to test solutions to these long-standing issues.

I enumerate these initiatives, not to congratulate ourselves or declare victory, but to encourage all of us to engage in the productive and positive work of making this a Medical School we can all be proud of: a place where everyone is welcome, and creative dialogue and innovation flourish in the pursuit of learning, discovery, and healing.

Next week, we formally welcome Ana Núňez, MD, FACP, to our school as our Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This search started over a year ago, and her arrival is much anticipated. We are excited for her to join our leadership team and to bring her energy and expertise to this expanding work. Please join me for the Medical School Forum on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 9:15 a.m. with Dr. Núňez as our special guest.

Thank you for your passion and courage to take on this work with me and our leaders across the Medical School. We clearly have a long way to go, but we will support each other in the journey ahead.