Then to Now: Reflections by leadership on the evolution of diversity and inclusion at HMS

Then to Now: Reflections by leadership on the evolution of diversity and inclusion at HMS


[APPLAUSE] Thank you, Dr. Poussaint
for being the catalyst that brought us together. [APPLAUSE AND CHEERING] I am Dr. Nancy Oriol. And with my
co-chair, Lisa Mayer, we want to thank everyone
who made this possible. However, to give proper credit
to the all the people who made this happen, it would
take one of those rolling lists like you see at
the end of a movie. In fact, to even just name
the offices that came together to make this happen, it would
sound like alphabet soup, OCR, PME, OSA, DICP. That won’t work. However, our tagline says it
all, “we are better together.” [APPLAUSE AND CHEERING] And the 20 different
offices that came together to make this event
happen were like a team of good-humored,
well-trained dancers. Thank you all. So a few logistics for the day. Many of you are alumni, and
you asked me to orient you. Now, in fact, the last
time I saw many of you was in this room at orientation,
so I’m just back in my old job. [LAUGHTER] So at 1 o’clock, after
Professor Reid and her panel have guided us
through the history, we invite you to visit
the exhibits in the atrium and across the quad. These are all ripples from
Dr. Poussaint’s impact on our community. Lunch is on your own. But you might try crossing the
quad to the Courtyard Cafe, so named because it was built in
the courtyard between buildings B and D, for those of you
who don’t know the new names. [LAUGHTER] On your way to the Courtyard
Cafe, near the entrance to Amphitheater D, everybody,
stop by Med Science. It’s a high school STEM
program started by my partner Julie Doyle and I, where you
can brush up on your physiology and help some high school
students save a patient. Or you can go out the
back of the Courtyard Cafe to the plaza in front of the
dental school’s new building. There’s a new
building there, guys. And there you will find the
Family Van, a mobile clinic started by Cheryl
Dorsey and myself when she was a medical
student and then expanded by Tamara Callahan in 1994, who
is our vice president of alumni council, expanded in 1994. You can go over there, and
some eager medical students would be very happy to
take your blood pressure. [LAUGHTER] Many of you volunteered on the
van when you were students. And you named it the
cure for Longwood-itis. Next you can return
to this building. And on the way here,
through [INAUDIBLE],, stop by the media wall and
see a beautiful photo essay of precious moments that include
Dr. Poussaint’s retirement party, where his portrait was
hung in the [INAUDIBLE] Atrium. When you’re back
in the atrium, you can see the Countway
Diversity Archives and actually touch some of
the historical artifacts. Or you can go back in time
through the interactive display of oral histories from the
people who made history, like Dr. Ed Kravitz, Dr.
Beckwith, Dr. Poussaint, and the late Dr. David Potter. Perspectives of
Change was the vision of Dr. Joan Reede and
Dr. Scott Podolsky and built by Theresa
Carter, and Joan Laquois. It’s a masterpiece. And it will live online
permanently after today. On the other side
of the atrium, you can view the video debut of our
community engagement curriculum and talk to some of the students
who have experienced it. And then to keep the
history complete, you can meet the
author, Nora Nercessian at the registration table. She is the author of
Against All Odds, the HMS history of diversity that
predates the 1969 revolution. At 2:15, this
auditorium will reopen. And then at 2:30, the
symposium will start. Then 5:00 to 6:00 we have
a reception in the atrium again, where we can all
meet and greet once again. So the response
to this event has been spectacular, heartwarming,
even overwhelming. And I just want to welcome you
all and thank you for coming and now pass this baton over
to Professor Joan Reede. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] So I want to begin by saying
thank you to Dr. Oriol into the many individuals
and offices that made today possible. And I want to welcome you. I want to welcome you,
alumni and faculty, students, trainees, staff,
friends, all of us coming together today
for this celebration. And we start by
talking about the past and to where we are
now and reflections on leadership in this evolution
of diversity and inclusion at Harvard Medical School. So thank you all
who are here with us today in the auditorium,
but also on Livestream. We have four speakers
with us here today. Three of them are
actually HMS alums. Acknowledged. [LAUGHTER] Two are not. Scott Podolsky,
Director of the Center for the History of Medicine,
the Francis Countway Library of Medicine, and Professor
of Global Health and Social Medicine here at
Harvard Medical School; Kevin Churchwell, President
and Chief Operating Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital,
Robert and Dana Smith Associate Professor of Anesthesia
at Harvard Medical School; Fidencio Saldana,
Dean of Students and Interim Director
of the Office for Recruitment and
Multicultural Affairs and Assistant
Professor of Medicine here at Harvard Medical School. And rounding us
out is Nawal Nour, who’s Faculty Council Vice
Chair, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
at Harvard Medical School and the Chief
Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Faculty and Students
at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. So I want you to give a
nice round of applause because this is an amazing,
amazing group of leaders. [APPLAUSE] We’re going to follow on
basically two questions I’m going to be asking. At the first we’re going to
let each one of the speakers give their comments
and then open it up for your questions of them. And then we’ll turn to
the second question. And I want to start with
this concept of diversity and inclusion and
belonging and how it has evolved over time at
Harvard Medical School, as we think about our big buckets,
our buckets of service, our buckets of education and
leadership, policy, research. And I’m going to ask
Dr. Podolsky to begin. Thanks, [INAUDIBLE]. And so I’d like to frame the
overall history and champion history itself first by
looking at three large stages over the last over 200 years. Between the founding
of the school in 1968, it’s a very complicated story. On the one hand, you’ve
events like in 1850, where the first three
African-American students, Daniel Laing, Isaiah Snowden,
and Martin Delaney Winnie, were admitted to
the school and then, amidst some student protests,
were asked to leave the school. That’s on the one hand
part of that legacy. On the other hand, by
1868, the dental school graduates Robert Tanner Freeman,
the first African-American dental graduate in this country. By 1893, you had the institution
of the Lewis and Harriet Hayden Scholarship. But despite that, by
1968, there had only been 64 African-American
graduates of Harvard Medical School. At that time, in the
aftermath, in February of 1968, of the release of the
Kerner Commission report, in April of 1968, after at the
assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., a group of faculty,
and predominately junior faculty, discussed
with Dean Ebert the need to increase
representation of African-American students
at Harvard Medical School as a form of social justice. And the archives are remarkable
for what we have from this era. It really was framed around
the notion of social justice, per se, during this key period. By 1980, we actually
see further evolution. And by this point,
diversity is not only represented as a notion
of social justice, but as a positive pedagogical
goal of the school itself and a positive
pedagogical aspect that should be incorporated
within the school’s identity, its infrastructure,
and its instruction itself. And that’s only really persisted
through each administration thereafter. When we ask about leadership
and its role vis-a-vis this history, I
direct the Center for the History
of Medicine, where we have all the records
of the medical school. And it’s been remarkable
the degree to which that leadership has helped us to
collect and preserve and share this history. So as early as 2005, in a
setting when we have over, let’s say, 1,000 faculty
collections, very few of those were female collections,
again owing to the legacy of the school’s history itself. And Joseph Martin
helped to Institute the Archives for
Women in Medicine, which empowered us to go out
and collect these histories. And by now we have over
50 such large collections, half of those with full
finding aids, which you can see online and
researchers around the world can see online. By 2018, the Archives
for Women in Medicine had evolved to the Archives
for Diversity and Inclusion. And as part of that, as you
heard earlier, going back a little bit, Dr. Reede and I
had met around 2015 and said, you know, at this
point, we should be thinking about legacy
of folks of the 1960s, like Dr. Poussaint, who was
working during Freedom Summer, and doing our best to
capture that history. And that started
this conversation about how do we
collect this history? And it led to this
large project, which is now this Perspectives
of Change Initiative, which you’ll see on the website. It’s in beta form. It’s undergoing
continual evolution. But we’ve had over 35 oral
histories as part of this that we hope will
evidence the increasing attempts to expand access
to medical education at Harvard Medical School
against the global and national context in which
that would evolve. So I’m super grateful
for Harvard’s leadership in allowing us to
have history there, as a way of framing
where we’ve been, helping us to think through
where we would go from here. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Dr. Churchwell. Thank you. It’s pleasure to be here. I think I made a
real big mistake. I was talking to my wife,
Gloria, this morning. I said, you know, I’ve got to
go talk at the Medical School. I don’t think it’s going
to be that big a deal. [LAUGHTER] And it turns out, my
brother Andre is here. He’s the Vice Chancellor
at Vanderbilt. And we actually should have
called Mom, Andre, jeez. [LAUGHTER] But again, it’s a
pleasure to be here. Thank you for the opportunity. Thinking about leadership here,
I was actually just ruminating on how Harvard Medical School,
Harvard, really mirrored what has happened since 1969. I don’t know how
many you remember what was going on in 1969, but
it was pretty much a big deal. It was pretty much the United
States was in just chaos, in some respects. And that chaos was
reflected directly actually in the universities. And here, actually,
in Boston, at Harvard, and at MIT, the
Med School, there was a lot of work going on. And that was really the start
of the big bolus of individuals, African-American individuals,
individuals of culture, individuals of color, that would
get came to these universities and to the medical schools. When I think back to
those individuals, actually they were
really giants, giants that sort
of walked the earth when you think about it, because
what they had to go through and what they did to
push things forward have created an
incredible legacy. When I think about
my own experience, my experience wasn’t actually
as Harvard undergrad. Sorry about that. But I actually went to MIT. And at MIT, those individuals
that started that work in 1969 were incredible individuals. They included people
like Shirley Jackson. And Shirley Jackson is
currently the president at RPI. And I can tell you that she’s
just not someone you mess with. [LAUGHTER] She is just an incredible
force of nature. But it was those
types of individuals that actually pushed things
forward in terms of leadership. Around the hospitals
and the Medical School, honestly, there wasn’t a lot
going on during that time. But there were a few individuals
that really pushed things forward, I believe,
and have created what I like to call
intentionality, intentionality around the work. One is Peter Slavin. Peter Slavin is currently
the president at MGH. And if you have the
opportunity, Peter has a YouTube video around
leadership and their Equity Project. And in that YouTube,
he talks about why it’s important, why diversity,
why equity’s important. And he talks about it
really in personal terms. But the important part of it is
that the intentionality of what Peter has led at MGH
that has reverberated, I think, not just in
the Harvard community, but across the country in
terms of their solutions for– their Disparity
Solution and the hiring of Joe Betancourt. Joe is, again, one
of those forces of nature, who started the
work around disparities at MGH. And then that created
Disparity Solutions in 2003 and developed a leadership
program in 2007. Importantly, that
leadership program has really fostered work not
just in the Harvard hospital systems, but across the country
in terms of different health systems, where
groups come and learn about how to do this work well,
how to learn about disparities, how to deal with them, how
to learn about diversity, cultural competency,
and institute them in their environments. And with that, I
had the opportunity to learn about that. And I had left actually. I did my training here in
the Harvard hospital system at Boston Children’s
and left and was fortunate to become
in administration in other institutions at
other children’s hospitals and had the opportunity to
send others to that Disparity Solution conference
program to learn about how to do this well. And so we’ve been
able to populate. And I feel fortunate to be able
to help populate other hospital systems in this work around
diversity, cultural competency, and the question around equity. Within Harvard, this
continues to evolve in terms of leadership. I’m an example of that, from the
standpoint that I am currently the President, Chief
Operating Officer, and EVP of Health Affairs
at Boston Children’s. And the view that I think
is important going forward is the view, again,
around intentionality. I like to equate us to the
NFL, in that as you remember– or you may not remember if
you don’t care about football. But if you care about
football, especially professional football, back in
the ’80s– interview coaches. You couldn’t get a job as
a head coach in the NFL unless you interviewed
a diverse candidate. And what did that
really lead to? It really led to opportunity,
which led to hiring coaches. And what did that lead to? An intentionality
around those coaches hiring other diverse
candidates for their coaches. So when you look at
the NFL now, it’s populated by African-American
head coaches, Hispanic head coaches. But you look at their staffs. They’re also populated
by diverse candidates, by diverse coaches. It’s the same in health care. If you look at the
opportunity at Harvard, at the Harvard hospitals,
that’s the opportunity, to continue to recruit, develop
the bench as they move forward. You see that around the country. You see that at Kaiser
Permanente, with Bernard Tyson. Go on his website. Look at his team. It’s the rainbow. You look at Lloyd Dean at
Dignity Health, the largest health care company– one of the largest
in this country. Go on his website. Look at his team, again, a
talented team of diversity across the board. So that’s, I think, the
opportunity of leadership as we move forward
here at Harvard around the opportunity of
intentionality and recruitment as we move forward. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Saldana. Thank you. It’s a true
privilege to be here. I think I had a really special
and unique situation that I not only was able to be
mentored by Dr. Poussaint, but I had the pleasure of
actually working with him and being his colleague in
the Office of Recruitment of Multicultural Affairs. And I remember that when
we had a get together at his house as a first
year, I think I half joked that one day I’d like to
have a job like yours. And Dr. Poussaint, looks
like, at least today, I do. So thank you very much. [LAUGHTER] So the concept of
diversity and inclusion has definitely expanded
over the last 50 years. And I think we can illustrate
that in a number of ways. So the first are the
types of students that we look to recruit and retain. Second are the students
that we support in our Diversity Office, as
well as in diversity offices across the country. And finally, within
diversity and inclusion, there are now more
established programs to educate the
population at large, our students and
faculty, about issues of diversity and inclusion. So to start with
are the students that we’re looking to
recruit and retain. And that is the
definition of who is considered
underrepresented in medicine and what resources we have
to ensure their success in medical school. So when I was a student
here in the 1990s, and likely years before,
the efforts really focused on bringing anyone,
bringing some diversity because we really lacked it. The efforts were to bring
African-American, Native American, and Latinx students
into the medical school just to really have a
presence and then working to increase their numbers. So at the time, the
demographics of these groups was even slightly different
than what we see today. Most African-American
students were from multi-generational
families in the United States. Latinx students were typically
Mexican-Americans or mainland Puerto Ricans. And these groups were
considered underrepresented as the definition went by the
American Association of Medical Colleges. But since that
time, we’ve really seen the diversity within
these groups expand. We’re seeing students born
on the African continent, either African citizens
or recent immigrants, as well as
Afro-Caribbean students. We’re seeing Latinx students
from the Caribbean, Central America, and South
America as well. And the national
definition has changed, as the diversity of our
students have changed, of what it means to
be underrepresented. But what hasn’t changed is
that recruiting students that are underrepresented
in medicine is still a priority both on
the national level, as well as here at
Harvard Medical School. In addition, the concept
of diversity and inclusion now includes other ethnic groups
that our office here, as well as other offices across the
country, has begun to support. These include our
East Asian students, our South Asian students,
and our Muslim students. Even beyond these
groups, some offices are supporting first-generation
students, low-income students, or even students
with disabilities, all falling under the umbrella
of diversity and inclusion. We are also now strongly
supporting our LGBTQ students. Harvard remains one of
the only medical schools to allow applicants
to identify as LGBTQ on their secondary application. And Dr. Poussaint’s
legacy includes being one of the first offices
of multicultural affairs in the country to
fully embrace and take on the needs of LGBTQ students. And this legacy
continues, with HMS playing a leading role in
supporting other multicultural affairs offices
across the country to help meet LGBTQ
students’ needs. So with all this being
said, our students don’t fall just
into one category. And we’re learning how to best
support the intersectionality that our students have,
because many of them belong to all of these groups. So in addition to the
recruitment and retention of students that are
underrepresented in medicine, as well as supporting a broad
group of diverse students, there’s been a new
focus on how to go about teaching about issues
in diversity and inclusion within medical
school curriculum. We now have a
health equity theme, which Dr. Oriol
mentioned, as one of the places you could stop
in and check out after lunch. And our theme is in
its infancy, but we hope to provide a
longitudinal curriculum for all of our students
to have the skills to take care of a diverse population. So in addition, we’re
teaching about bias not just towards the patient,
but towards one another. We recognize that within
our health care environment, our students may have
to deal with bias, with microaggression,
or even outright racism. And we want to
give them the tools for students to be
able to deal with that, as well as for students
to be allies in the fight against that. So although things have
evolved, the core of our mission truly is how to best take
care of a diverse population by recruiting, nurturing, and
developing a diverse workforce. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Nour. Thank you all for being here. I have to say, I’m so
overwhelmed at being invited. Thank you so much
for inviting me. But also, all of
you are here, and I know there are people in front
of their computers listening. But seeing all these friendly
faces, faces from the past, and that all stems back
to you Dr. Poussaint. I wanted to start
off with just a story and then talk a little bit about
leadership and then some policy issues and how we can
bring about change. But my story starts
in 1993, when I was applying to
Harvard Medical School and not thinking that
I would end up here. And I went through the
application process. And then there was a weekend
where we got invited back. At that point, Dr.
Poussaint was around. And one of the biggest,
I think, statements that stayed with me had to
do with it’s not a mistake. [LAUGHTER] You’ve all heard this, right? You’re not here by mistake. There was a committee. We all looked at
every application. And that he personally came
up to each one of us and said, we want you here. How do we make sure
that you can come here? How to make sure that you
feel like you belong here? And it was those personal
stories, personal outreach– goes back to the
intentionality you mentioned, that Dr.
Poussaint came up to me and made me feel special. He made me feel wanted. And he made me feel like I
belonged at Harvard Medical School. Oh, my gosh, Harvard
Medical School. So thank you for that. Once I got here, I feel,
like I say, I got sucked in. And so I’ve been
here since 1994. What I like about HMS is
that we are always curious, and we are also very
critical about ourselves. We want to do better. We always want to do better. And I think that
if you look back, even over the last
several years, when Harvard University
came up and said, I think it’s time for us to
have a task force on diversity inclusion and belonging,
HMS, with Dr. Reede, worked on creating
something that would ask the
questions of how can we do better in our institution? How can we be more inclusive? How can we get everybody
to feel like they belong here, no matter what? And as you saw outside, there
is this lovely mission statement that I think some of you have. But I wanted to read a couple. I’m not going to read
the whole thing but just a couple of things of what
our intentionality is, which is “we acknowledge
the strengths and weaknesses of our
history and actively promote social justice. We celebrate the multiple
dimensions of diversity. We provide a safe
environment, respect the dignity of all
members of our community. We provide education
and training that emphasize respect for
differences in culture, language, and life experiences. We advance diversity and
inclusion in recruitment, admission, and hiring. We prioritize diversity
and inclusion. We support community. We continuously monitor. We continuously monitor
how we’re doing.” This is something
that I actually have next to my computer. And I think about it when
I feel like we’re not doing well enough. And that goes to the next phase,
where we started looking at– we had a sub-committee task
force on Culture, Climate, and Communication. Again, going back to HMS and
finding out from our community, how are we doing? What can we do? How do our images look? What kind of messages are
we sending our community? Do we feel like we need
to change our images? And with those
types of questions, we started changing
some of the images. We put up a portrait. Thank you, Will and Dean Daley
for the fact that we actually have a wonderful
portrait that has– we celebrated Dr. [INAUDIBLE]. So that’s the part of
what our community can do. We actually need to
continuously change and evolve, using policies, using
our mission statement, reminding us who we
are, but also being accepting of how we can
change in diverse ways, right? How do we bring in
new students that may not fall under the
category of URIM, right? And then finally, I think
one of the things that I’ve been really enjoying was being
Vice Chair of the Faculty Council. The LCME came and looked at
us and looked at our community and said, maybe we need
to be more diverse. And what I find
fascinating about that is that we could have
said, well, yeah, we need to be more diverse. But again, that intentionality
came back to Dr. Daley said, maybe it’s time for us to think
of how many URMs should we be hiring and coming out
with an actual number and visiting every
single hospital. Dr. Joan Reede and
Dean Daley came and spoke to our chairs
council and in the midst of it, really intentionally said, if
every chair hires one or two URMs in each of
our institutions, we will be better than
most other medical schools. And so I think that with
that kind of intention, with actually thinking about how
we want to make these changes– and we’re not going
to hire just anybody. We want to hire the best
that actually fit and feel that they belong
in our institution. Thank you. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] So for me, I see
represented on this panel the evolution of diversity. On this panel, we have
a Dean of Students who’s a person of color. On this panel, we have a Vice
Chair of the Faculty Council who is a person of color. On this panel, we have
the first president of a Harvard affiliate hospital
who is a person of color. This is evolution right here. [APPLAUSE] It speaks to intentionality. It speaks to excellence because
diversity is and has always been about excellence. But it also speaks to
our future, our future and our students and our
faculty and our staff and creating the
leaders of tomorrow. When I think about this,
creating opportunities and taking advantage
of opportunities, I’m going to ask
if you could just give an example for yourself,
a personal example, of how Harvard has created an
opportunity for you. Well, I’ll go first. They hired me. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] Let me let me go
back a little ways. [LAUGHTER] This is a special place. My interaction with Harvard,
Harvard Medical School, was in the environment
of first as an intern and a resident at Boston
Children’s Hospital. And I worked to get to
Boston Children’s because I wanted to go to a
children’s hospital that you saw everything twice. And I think that we fit the
bill from that standpoint. But what Harvard gave to
me was the opportunity to meet all of you,
the mentors that changed my professional
life, was profound. I actually got to interact with
David Nathan, Fred Lovejoy, John Crigler, giants in
the field of pediatrics, but also individuals that cared
about me as a person, that cared about me and my career,
that have to this day, continue to be interested
in me personally and have mentored me to the
point that I currently am. And I’m so appreciative of that. And I think that that’s
profoundly important. And that’s the true
the legacy of Harvard. When you get a chance– and I advise you not to
because he talks endlessly– of talking to my brother,
Andre, about his experience– [LAUGHTER] –at Harvard Medical School–
or Wally Clair, who talks– he’s shorter. He’s funnier– to talk
about their engagement and their involvement. The first thing out of their
mouth is around Dr. Poussaint and what he meant to
them as medical students, bringing them here, shepherding
them, advising them, making that difference. I had a chance to
meet Gus White. Gus, we met at a
dinner in Nashville. [APPLAUSE] And he took it upon
himself to give me advice. And you know what? That was really helpful to me. And he is always
taking upon himself to sort of check in
on me and sort of say, well, you ought to
think about it this way. And it’s extremely helpful
and profound that we have these types
of individuals here that have made a difference. And it’s made a difference
to me personally. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] I may go along near
the same theme. And it’s not that
Harvard hired me but that Harvard hired
my mentors that hired me. And I think what’s
remarkable are two things. As I sort of glance over
there, the two folks that I kind of catch
first are one Ed Hundert, and the other is, of
course, Dr. Poussaint. So in Dr. Poussaint,
I see someone who is like me, who has
lots of similarities and a deep understanding
of what it’s like to be a person of
color, someone who, again, on day two of medical
school completely changed the way that I was
thinking about my career and really knew how to motivate
and bring the best out in you, and coming from the perspective
of his own life as well. And I think what’s unique
is that maybe Ed and I could be no more different. But we do have a
lot of similarities. But I think that, as we’ll
see later this afternoon, Harvard hires folks that care
about diversity, that look out for those of us who need
a little extra motivation and help, so folks like Ed,
folks like the folks we’re going to hear about this
afternoon, who may not look the same as me, who may not
have the same background, but really know how important
diversity and inclusion is to the community. So I think that
that’s where Harvard has done great things
in bringing someone, a giant like Dr.
Poussaint here to really make an incredible
difference and really train a generation of folks
and then to hire folks like Ed, who doesn’t
look like us, but realizes the importance and
his privilege and his power. And he gives that
to us to empower us to make this place a
better medical school. So thank you to both of you. [APPLAUSE] I agree. I think the whole mentorship and
sponsorship aspect is critical. One of the things that I’m
learning as chief diversity inclusion officer is there
is the recruiting aspect. But even more so, I think we
need to focus on the retaining aspect. We have been so lucky to have
wonderful medical students that are diverse. And then how do we retain them? And we’ve trained them. We’ve educated them. And how do we retain
them in our institutions? Because we’ve gotten them there. How do we keep
them as residents? And then how do we
keep them as Fellows to go through our fellowship? And then we hire
them as attendings. It’s a nice pipeline program. And so for me, it was
those critical moments where I almost left Boston,
where my mentors helped pull me back into HMS. And I’m always
grateful for that. For example, Joan Reede, I’m
sorry to be embarrassing you here. But there was a moment where I
was finishing up my residency. Had it not been the Commonwealth
Fund Harvard University Fellowship on Minority
Health Policies, I probably would
have left Boston. So thank you for that and
your continued mentorship. At a certain point, I was
being recruited elsewhere. And my Chairman,
Dr. Bob Barbieri, was very gently and
persistently wooing me to stay. And I think if we
have mentors who can guide us through
things and sponsors who can say, hey, why don’t you
sit on that finance committee? And I’d go, I don’t know
anything about finance. Exactly. Sit on the finance committee. [LAUGHTER] Having people have
with that foresight– why don’t you sit on
the faculty council? I don’t know if I
have time to do that. Well, how about being vice
chair of the faculty council? [LAUGHTER] OK, thank you. So it’s those
moments of transition that I think are really
critical and meaningful. Thank you. So I entered here in 1993
as a medical student. I’ve been here ever since. And because of
those decisions that were made in the immediate
decades before I got here, I was exposed to fellow
students, eventually fellow colleagues of diverse
backgrounds, diverse ideas. [INAUDIBLE] was a resident
when I was a medical student at the Brigham. Mary Tate, with who, we did one
of the Perspectives of Change interviews, was my
medical student. And it’s just been such
fertile ground for ongoing self reflection and evolution
over a quarter century now. So absolutely grateful for that. And I’m, of course,
grateful for a school which thinks about its history in
a self-reflective fashion and allows a crazy
hybrid position, where you could be both a
physician and a historian and allow the two to
reflect upon each other. Thank you. Thank you. We have come so very far,
which is a celebration. It’s a time to celebrate. But we still have so far to go. And we cannot forget that. And as we build upon our
past, understand our past, and look to the future, I want
each of you collectively– so not necessarily in a row– to talk a little bit about
the challenges you see, challenges you see
before us right now and over the next
few years in really moving forward around diversity,
inclusion, and belonging. What is Harvard– what
do we, as a community, need to be alert to? I’m going to start. I think that Dr. Poussaint
was very intentional in naming the office, so that the first
three phrases or the first four words, Office of– sorry, three words,
Office of Recruitment. And I think within that word
recruitment is retention. And that really we
need to remember that that is our core mission. When I described how
diversity has evolved, it went on for a little bit. I think diversity offices
are being asked to do more. And I think we’re
lucky here at Harvard that we’ve gotten the resources
to be able to do everything that I had described to you. But I think in conversations
with Dr. Poussaint, I think that just reminding
ourselves that we need not just this amphitheater full
of physicians of color, we need multiple, multiple
amphitheaters filled with physicians of color. And I think making
sure that we stay true to that mission,
first and foremost, in our diversity
offices, despite having a lot of other
responsibilities, I think is a continued
challenge that we need to continue to fight for. Others, challenges? I think part of
recruitment or retention is, again, support, support
of the individuals that are here and thinking through
where does culture, competency, diversity, equity
fit within Harvard. We are at Boston Children’s
going through that exercise to think through, is
it a separate goal? Or more importantly, should
it be part of every goal we aspire to? Meaning that everything we
think about, whether it’s on the care, research,
improving our operations, shouldn’t diversity,
shouldn’t cultural competency be part of how we’re thinking
about achieving the goal? And given that, what do
we need to put in place to make it long lasting? Joan, Dr Reede and Dean Daley
came to see us to talk about the issues surrounding
faculty recruitment, the diversity of faculty
at Boston Children’s. And part of the conversation
that I actually mentioned was that the importance of
what the dean was presenting went to how we actually
take care of patients, how we aspire to have excellence
in the care of our patients. Meaning that if you walk
into any of our hospitals, if you walk into
Boston Children’s right now and walk into
the lobby, you will see a rainbow of colors,
a rainbow of cultures. And how can we take care of
those patients, those children, in the highest way possible? And the excellence
that we’re looking for, if we don’t represent
that, if we aren’t looking and expressing to them
that you’re important, that who we have to take
care of you represents you, and if Harvard can’t do
it, no one can do it, which means Harvard can do it. Everybody can do it. And how do we, as Harvard,
continue to lead that and take that opportunity is I think
what we should be thinking about putting in place,
embedding it into how we think about the work we do every day. I look at the work that DeWayne
Pursley’s doing at BI in terms of the leading forward
neonatology there and the work that
happens there every day and the opportunity
that they have in terms of pushing it forward. The work we’re doing at
Boston Children’s, the work that Joe Betancourt and
Peter Slavin are doing at MGH, the work that Betsy
is doing at the Brigham, all of these have
great opportunities to move us forward in
thinking through how do we embed diversity into that work. I think that I want to
just, in addition to this, add two points. One is that I think that we
need to really be thinking ahead with pipeline programs. So the data does show that
African-American men are– there’s a dramatic drop in
men going into medicine. And that’s a problem
when we talk about what do our patients look like. So how do we start the
recruitment process from pipeline programs of
coming from high school or even middle school? How do we bring
them to the hospital to get them to aspire
to become physicians? And I think our
pipeline program, we have a tendency to
not think of them as much as those who are already
within our institution. So that’s one big challenge. The other one I would say is
we talk about accountability and metrics all the time
when it comes to this. But when you look at it
on an individual basis, and there’s a final pool of
applicants for a position, if there are two
or three, and then the committee decides on
not-a-diverse candidate, they say, you know, it was
so close, just so close. But the so close, as you
look at the end of the year, doesn’t provide any diversity
for our institutions. And I think that we have to
be very honest about how we’re going to be accountable
and what metrics we need to use in
order to ensure that this happens systemically. I think building on what Nawal
was just saying is that– around the pipeline,
in 1969, and a year after the [INAUDIBLE]
program was put in place, Leon Eisenberg was the
head of a committee that was reflecting on the
history of HMS admissions. He said the problem
wasn’t personal racism. It was around structural racism. It was the structural
factors in society at large that made it difficult
to bring students here at that time. And that focus on
structural factors has been noted for
now half a century. It’s certainly still an issue. And I think we have a
responsibility not just within the medical
school, but to focus attention on the structural
factors society wise and to engage with and to
lead discussion around that. Thank you. As you talk about this
and just questions, that you could
please sort of start to raise your hand so
that I can call on you. It reminds me of Harvard
statement of Veritas. And to what extent do
we tell our history, acknowledge our history,
the good and the bad? And it’s a history of change. And people are so
afraid of change. They’re so afraid
of this evolution. And it is going on
around us all the time. And so how do we raise this up? How do we acknowledge these
giants and what they’ve done, but create the
giants of tomorrow? And so I want to push us a
little bit further, because I think recruitment is wonderful. I’m a pediatrician, so
pipeline is always good. And if I could get
them in utero, I would. [LAUGHTER] But now– I’ll work with you on that. [LAUGHTER] Not just recruitment
and not just retention, but advancement,
how do we make sure that we’re represented among
the professors and the chiefs and the department
chairs and the leaders at Harvard Medical School,
but also nationally? It’s not just getting in the
door and staying in the door, but it’s moving and
widening the door. I think that’s a major
challenge for all of us. Questions or comments
from the audience? [INAUDIBLE] First and foremost,
Mike Pane, class of ’81, thank you, Dr. Poussaint. We find ourselves
in interesting time. There significant
social pressure, both overt and covert, that is
designed to inhibit and reverse many of the gains that
African-Americans have made in this country certainly
since the time of Dr. Poussaint and even before then. Iris Bohnet just spoke to the
Harvard Alumni Association Board of Directors about
her book What Works. And she talked about
behavioral architecture. What can we, as
faculty, alumni, friends of the university
and the Med School, do to start change the
behavioral architecture to help the folks on this
panel and the work they’re trying to do? So did you say you
were on the board? Part of the Alumni
Association board. So I think that it’s
important from a– I think that if
we do a top down, that there has to
be accountability. So I find that boards are
really helpful in ensuring that the conversation
of diversity is always part of almost every
meeting, if that’s possible. And there has to
be accountability from the board to the
institutions, or the university that they mean it. And this comes back to, like,
metrics and accountability. So I think if any of you
are sitting on boards, and this should go
for any institution, ensuring that that conversation
of diversity and inclusion and belonging is
continuously part of the discussion
on every session. And then what are your
expectations of us as alumni? And how are those described? And how are they followed
through from your alumni leadership to our leadership? Do you meet with us on
a semi-annual basis? Do we get an email? Or how does it so that
connection is there? And again, I’m going
to use that word again, that intentionality
continues to be put forward from that standpoint. Mike Myers, I’m a class 1985. I want to pick up on
something that Nancy said. I wanted to do a
little shout out on that Star Wars
theme of all the people that are either in the room
here or who’ve passed on and even begin with
my own personal story, because I remember– I’m now the chief
medical officer for a large primary
care group here in town, didn’t leave Boston,
came here in ’81, stayed around, 90
providers in my group, one of the largest
primary care groups in the state of Massachusetts. I got into an argument
with my interviewer at HMS, was a psychiatrist. And the argument was
about shouldn’t physicians be an example of good health? And what did I think
about doctors that smoked? And that was the basis
for the argument. I said, I didn’t think
it was a good idea. [LAUGHTER] And the second
interview I had was– she’s no longer with us. She passed away a
few years ago was– Dr. Hester Lewis,
who was a child psychiatrist at
Mass Mental Health. That doesn’t even exist anymore. And I was literally
in tears because I wanted to get into HMS. I had gone to
college at Hopkins. And Hester was like,
don’t worry about it. All as well. And I didn’t know
what that meant. But I got my letter welcoming
me to the Harvard family. So the rest is history. What I wanted to do is
kind of shout out some of the really important people. Dr. Poussaint, clearly, was
the compass and the magnet that brought all of us
here and kept us here and reassured us it
wasn’t an accident. One of the great things about
when you’re a black student– I looked around it. I’m not casting
aspersions on folks. But we were here through
merit not legacy, right? [APPLAUSE] Wasn’t none of us
generationally here before. So you went to Princeton
or Harvard College or MIT. You went to Hopkins. You did your work. You showed up. You made the As. You were pre-med. You did whatever you had to do. And then you applied,
and you probably were admitted to
multiple medical schools if you got into HMS. So we know who we are. And we know how we got here. And it’s a testimony to
the leadership positions that we’ve assumed
that’s carried forward. I turned 60. I’m now co-chairing my 35th
class reunion next year. And it’s– I’m very reflective
and emotional these days. But we need to remember the
Ed Furshpans and the Dan Potters, the Leon Eisenbergs. [APPLAUSE] We need to remember Daniel
Tosteson and Daniel Fetterman. I used to get in arguments
constantly with Dr. Fetterman. We need to remember
Brenda Lee over here, [CHEERING] –who is here. We need to remember Dr.
Arky, who was the man– [APPLAUSE] –who dissuaded me from
being a dermatologist. [LAUGHTER] He actually did, to being in
an internal medicine physician. I did my training at
Mount Auburn Hospital. There’s so many great
people that are not with us. And Dr. Hester Lewis,
who’s no longer with us. There’s so many people that
are responsible for the history that you guys are memorializing
and that we’re celebrating that aren’t here
or are here, and we need to remember
those people as well. [APPLAUSE] One of the prerequisites
of an older brother is to have the
opportunity to come back– [LAUGHTER] –on the younger brothers. Kevin, as he talked about
it, though he wasn’t a graduate of Harvard Med
School, Robert and Mary Churchwell, our parents,
made certain there was a Borg collective
of Harvard, with Keith going
to Harvard College, me going to Harvard Med
School, Kevin training here and now on the faculty. So my brother, you are part
of the Harvard Churchwell Borg collective [INAUDIBLE]. [LAUGHTER] One of the things
you were raising, Joan and others,
how do you embed, institutionalize the
progress around faculty, diverse faculty? And there are no magic
bullets or solutions. But I will recommend
one thing that we have been doing at our
institution for about 10 years, is we challenge and
grade the chairs on their yearly evaluation
as an enterprise-wide goal on everything that we would
normally do at Harvard, NIH grants, people getting
an Institute of Medicine. But part of that
slice of that pie is percent URM applicant
goal and percent URM faculty retention. So they get graded on that. So part of their end-of-the-year
whatever it might be, George– it’s maybe a salary bonus, maybe
a little extra space up in one of the research rooms. It might be a
little extra funding for postdoctoral fellow– I know. But if you’re to
link those goals, those aspirational goals, to
a truly quantitative measure that you can then
track over time, you actually can see some
headway being made on that. G. Fopozo, HMS 2005. [CHEERING] We have a whole contingent here. I’m sure that I speak
for my classmates and so many people
in the room to say thank you first to Dr.
Poussaint, Dean Oriol, Dr. Reede, Dr. White, who have
influenced us so much. And they’re literally the reason
why we’re sitting here today. I think the doctor,
many Dr. Churchwells in the room mentioned
about retention of faculty, promotion. And I want to hear a
little bit about how do we support and promote equity and
promotion of diverse faculty? And part two to that question
is, what kind of value is placed on diversity
and inclusion work in reviewing someone’s dossier? [APPLAUSE] I’m looking– [INTERPOSING VOICES] From a hospital leadership
standpoint, what we have done is really– the history has been I
evaluate this person, and so my opinion is. And I think our work
has been to take away as much as we can
“my opinion is” and use data, use
objective data, right, to evaluate where
this individual is, where this individual’s
opportunities are, and how they should be
either graded, supported, or et cetera. And so that’s the work
that I personally, but we as an institution, have
been pushing forward, right, sort of take it
away from my opinion because my opinion can have
multiple connotations to it, right? My opinion is based upon
who I know, how I feel, or cetera, as opposed
to, let’s say, we do as best we can
to make it blind, that you can’t actually
see the color of the person or where the person comes from. Let’s look at the person’s
work and evaluate that based on criteria that makes sense. I think in doing that, we
work to move the Borg forward in terms of getting the right
equity, the right judgment around that type of work. So I think across the
board, not just at Harvard, across the board, we often talk
about diversity and inclusion. We don’t walk diversity
and inclusion. We stop with the talk. And so for me, it’s how do
we start to hold ourselves, if you want to say, accountable. But how do we expect outcomes? How do we expect change? How do we bring the same
kind of rigor and expectation to this space that we bring
to everything else we do, be it evidence based, be
it generating knowledge, be it saying, if you’re
going to do this program or put something in place,
what is the outcome? And if we’re not
achieving the outcome, how do we re-examine it? How do we get serious about
diversity and inclusion? And I think that’s where
Harvard is right now. In terms of promotion
and advancement, yes, community service, diversity are
all included and given credit. Enough credit? I’m not sure. But they’re absolutely
given credit. So as we come to a close
to today’s session, I want to start by
thanking the panelists. [APPLAUSE] We talked about intentionality. We talked about taking advantage
of and creating opportunities. Importantly, we’ve talked
about stepping forward. We talked about
people from the past who’ve stepped
forward, individuals who today are stepping forward,
individuals, committees, boards, leaders, all of us
who need to step forward. Diversity, inclusion, and
belonging doesn’t just happen because you say it. You must act on it. You must be vigilant
in that action if we’re going to
sustain change. Thank you very much
for joining us today. [APPLAUSE]

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