Reckoning with our past and prescribing our future

April 26, 2022

Dear Members of the HMS Community:

Today I am reminded of this excerpt from Maya Angelou’s poem, “On the Pulse of Morning:”

    History, despite its wrenching pain,
    Cannot be unlived, and if faced
    With courage, need not be lived again.

As I reflect on the release of the final report and recommendations from the Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, I have a mix of emotions. I commend Radcliffe Institute Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin and the initiative’s committee for their essential work in providing, for the first time, a comprehensive and transparent history of Harvard’s connections to slavery. I applaud both the committee’s recommendations for how we as a community can redress—through teaching, research, and service—our legacy of slavery, and President Bacow and the Corporation’s commitment to support implementation of these recommendations, including providing the financial resources to continue this important work in perpetuity.

I hereby pledge HMS’ commitment to actions that reinforce and advance the initial recommendations and those that will come from the implementation committee. HMS has not and will not shy away from our history, as evidenced in recent years by the dialogues presented by our Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership (DICP), the 2019 event celebrating 50 years of diversity and inclusion at HMS and HSDM, and the Perspectives of Change online exhibit, which presents the story of civil rights, diversity, inclusion, and access to education at HMS and HSDM, among other initiatives.

Since the release of our Better Together plan and anti-racism initiatives, we have made important progress, including establishing a committee on artwork and cultural representations, resulting in new artwork across our campus; instituting guiding principles on naming HMS campus features; renaming one of our academic societies in honor of Dr. William Augustus Hinton; releasing a statement of mutual respect and public discourse; and, following a comprehensive review, implementing recommendations to dismantle racism in our Program in Medical Education, to name a few.

While I am proud of our progress, there is much more we can and must do. This work is the responsibility of each and every one of us. I hope you will read the report and join us as a pollinator for racial justice and social change.

I also understand that the truths laid bare in the report are painful and may reopen wounds that are still fresh for many in our community. Let’s recommit ourselves to our mission, community values, and diversity statement. As community organizer, jazz singer, and co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund LaTosha Brown said at Harvard’s recent Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Forum, we must grant one another “grace and space” to create new opportunities and inspire the strength to move forward.

Please consider participating in and engaging with our community at these upcoming University and HMS dialogues and events, as well as others that are being planned for the fall:

  • Wednesday, April 27, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Longwood community dialogue for students at HMS, HSDM, and the Chan School. This session will be introduced by Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sherri Charleston. It will begin with a screening of the Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery film at 6:30 p.m., followed by a dialogue from 7 to 8 p.m., moderated by David Jones, the A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine at HMS. This event is hosted by the three Longwood schools, and specifically DICP, the Program in Medical Education, and the Office of Graduate Education at HMS.
     
  • Thursday, April 28, noon to 1 p.m. Community & Affinity Space on the theme of “Reflecting on Harvard’s History and Legacy,” via Zoom. This event is open to all members of the University community and is hosted by the Harvard Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.
     
  • Friday, April 29, 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. Virtual conference “Telling the Truth about All This: Reckoning with Slavery and Its Legacies at Harvard and Beyond.” This event is open to the public and hosted by Harvard Radcliffe Institute.
     
  • Monday, May 9, 1 to 2:30 p.m. HMS community dialogue moderated by Allan Brandt, the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine in the Department of Social Medicine, and interim chair of the HMS Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. This event is open to all members of the HMS community. Further details will be available soon.

In the days ahead, may we all find and exercise the courage that Maya Angelou spoke of so that we can reckon with our past and, together, prescribe a more equitable future.

Sincerely,

George Q. Daley
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
Harvard University

Past Messages

  • Standing with Ukraine

    February 28, 2022

    Dear Members of the HMS Community:

    At Harvard Medical School, we work to alleviate suffering and improve health and well-being for all. In keeping with that mission, HMS stands alongside the international community in condemning Russia’s invasion of its neighbor Ukraine. We express our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who are currently enduring unspeakable hardships. I would also like to draw your attention to President Bacow’s statement, which he delivered earlier today.

    The cost of conflict—as explored in the Spring 2018 issue of Harvard Medicine magazine—is incalculable. Beyond the economic, military, social, and political ramifications of war, it is well documented that public health deteriorates, too. Maternal and infant mortality rates increase. Destruction brings about widespread instability. Environmental damage, toxification, and pollution are rampant, and displaced individuals face debilitating traumas.

    In 2018, a cohort of HMS researchers studying Saudi attacks on health care facilities and services in Yemen called on health care providers to take a role in censuring the war. They set an example for all of us. As physicians, educators, and trainees, we are uniquely positioned to advocate for peace. Already, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, a University-wide academic and research center based at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital Emergency Medicine Department, is working with clinical partners to aid the health response strategy at the Ukrainian border.

    My thoughts turn to those members of our community—the Ukrainians and Russians among us—who are most affected by this occupation, but none of us can be unmoved by the unfolding tragedy of war. If you need support during this deeply unsettling time, many resources are available to you, including Counseling and Mental Health Services for students, Harvard’s Employee Assistance Program and Work/Life Programs for employees, and the Harvard Ombuds Office, Longwood for all staff, trainees, faculty, and students.

    For anyone who would like to learn more about the crisis in Ukraine, I encourage you to attend any or all of these panel discussions over the next week, organized by colleagues across the University, including Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center and Institute of Politics.

    An invasion of this type is likely to bring about an immense amount of sorrow and loss of life. If you are looking for ways to help, there are many organizations soliciting financial aid to assist the people of Ukraine and address this growing crisis. Respected and trusted groups include UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the U.N. Ukraine Humanitarian Fund.

    In challenging times like these, please remember to take care of yourself, and to be sensitive to others. That in itself is a potent balm for the soul.

    Sincerely,

    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

  • Paul Farmer

    February 21, 2022

    Dear Members of the HMS Community:

    I am heartbroken to share the news that Paul Farmer died early this morning in Rwanda, where he was working and teaching at the University of Global Health Equity, which he co-founded. Paul passed quietly in his sleep, pursuing to his last day his mission of bringing exceptional medical care to regions of the globe in greatest need. He was 62.

    A compassionate physician and infectious disease specialist, a brilliant and influential medical anthropologist, and among the greatest humanitarians of our time—perhaps all time—Paul dedicated his life to improving human health and advocating for health equity and social justice on a global scale. I am particularly shaken by his passing because he was not only a consummate colleague and a beloved mentor, but a close friend. To me, Paul represented the heart and soul of Harvard Medical School.

    Paul was the Kolokotrones University Professor and head of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS, and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He earned his MD and PhD from Harvard. He was co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health, an international nonprofit that since 1987 has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of the sick and those living in poverty. Paul co-founded PIH while still a medical student here at HMS, which speaks to his drive and his spirit.

    Our hearts go out to his wife, Didi Bertrand Farmer, their three children, and all who knew and loved him.

    We are planning a community gathering via Zoom and will share the details as soon as they are confirmed. There are many in our community who will feel the burden of his loss. Please know that grief counselors are available through Harvard’s 24-hour, confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278). Students can reach out to Harvard Counseling and Mental Health Services at 617-495-2042.

    Paul’s presence brought great honor to Harvard Medical School. His life’s work and teaching have been an inspiration to countless colleagues and trainees who will carry on his legacy. In closing, I would like to share one of Paul’s poignant quotes that is meaningful to me and represents what Paul stood for and fought for:

    “The essence of global health equity is the idea that something so precious as health might be viewed as a right.”

    Sincerely,

    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

  • Standing tall against racism

    February 4, 2022

    Dear Members of the HMS Community:

    On Wednesday evening, I participated in an important and timely panel discussion on anti-racism, equity, and social justice. The event was part of the Black History Month event series sponsored by the HMS Center for Bioethics and the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care.

    The discussion included luminaries Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and CEO of Morehouse School of Medicine and an HMS alumna; Louis W. Sullivan, president emeritus of Morehouse School of Medicine and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Joan Y. Reede, HMS dean for diversity and community partnership, who was our moderator. Together, we had an uplifting conversation about our experiences and values, our mentors and role models, and our work to create change that enables all in our communities to thrive.

    We also addressed the racist incidents that have taken place over the past few days and weeks across our country and in our backyards. Bomb threats have again threatened and disrupted historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Books about the Holocaust are being banned. Racist incidents are being reported on college campuses. Self-proclaimed neo-Nazis have engaged in attacks and demonstrations, including singling out HMS faculty members who have worked to uncover and correct critical health disparities. And the list goes on.

    We must condemn these heinous acts. Racism in any form is unacceptable. Our HMS mission, community values, and diversity statement, together with our anti-racism initiatives and Better Together plan, signify our resolute commitment to inclusive excellence, collaboration, and mutual respect.

    It bears repeating that all members of our community deserve to feel safe at work, at home, and everywhere in between. If you are feeling unsafe or seeking support, please do not hesitate to access the resources outlined below.

    In closing, I want to share an excerpt from Dr. Montgomery Rice’s remarks as she reflected on the recent bomb threats targeted at HBCUs:

    “Someone asked me today if am I fearful. Fear is just a call to exercise courage. I tell our students and faculty that now is time to stand still and stand tall. Now is our time to demonstrate what it means to be an advocate and a champion of health equity. No one said that path would be easy.”

    Please take care of yourselves and take care of each other. We truly are better together.

    Sincerely,

    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

     

    Resources for the HMS Community

    • Harvard’s anonymous hotline is available 24/7 to report a range of concerns, including harassment and other threats to personal safety and well-being. Operated by an independent, third-party provider, the hotline is accessible 24/7 by calling 877-694-2275 or by submitting a report online.
       
    • If you are concerned for your safety, call the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212 (Cambridge/Allston) or 617-432-1212 (Longwood). The HUPD takes hate crimes seriously, and any acts or threats of violence, harassment, or intimidation may be reported directly to the department.
       
    • The HMS Security and Campus Safety team offers both walking and taxi escort services. Walking escort services are available 24 hours a day by calling 617-432-1379 at least 15 minutes ahead of your departure time. A security officer will escort you anywhere on campus or to the nearest MBTA stop. Taxi escort services are available daily from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. from the NRB security desk at 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur. This service is free to a single destination within a one-mile radius for up to four people. Click here for further details on available services.
       
    • Blue light emergency phones are available at 41 locations throughout the Longwood and Cambridge campuses. When you push the button on any of these call boxes, you will be connected directly to HUPD dispatch.
       
    • Counseling and Mental Health Services provides care exclusively to students in the form of individual remote visits and group therapy, no matter where you may be living during the pandemic. Check out the many virtual workshops and groups here.
       
    • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free, confidential help for all Harvard employees, postdocs, and their adult household members. You can reach the EAP at any time for personal or work-related concerns at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278) or by visiting the EAP website.
       
    • The Ombuds Office helps all members of the HMS, HSDM, and Harvard Chan School community address issues affecting their work or studies, including bias in its many forms. The Ombuds Office is independent by design and provides highly confidential, impartial, and informal support for clarifying concerns, identifying goals, and considering all options for managing or resolving issues. Services include conflict coaching; informal mediation; education about resources and policies; bringing systemic trends and issues to leadership; and training on topics including negotiation and conflict management, authorship best practices, and difficult conversations.
       
    • The University Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging offers community care resources, including Affinity Spaces, a series of open conversations where Harvard community members can connect with others who share their identities.
       
    • The HMS Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership has compiled a list of anti-racism resources.
  • A brighter year ahead

    January 12, 2022

    January 12, 2022

    Dear Members of the HMS Community:
     
    As we begin the new year, and after a series of dry administrative updates on COVID-19 guidelines, I’d like to share a more personal, and hopeful, message for 2022.
     
    There is no doubt that the nearly two years of the pandemic have been challenging. Each of us is justified in feeling exasperated or exhausted after all we’ve been through. And with the constant reminders of case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths, many of us remain fearful of the ongoing risk to ourselves and our loved ones, and mired in the protracted uncertainty of when this will all end. For those of you suffering under the stress and strain of it all, please remember there are multiple resources available for support during these trying times, including Counseling and Mental Health Services for students, Harvard’s Employee Assistance Program and Work/Life Programs for employees, and the HMS Ombuds Office for all staff, trainees, faculty, and students.
     
    Like many of you, I started to feel a deep weariness over the last semester. However, as I recently reflected on the past year, I felt my spirits lifting. Despite many obvious challenges, 2021 was an extraordinary year for HMS. Our researchers published more than 4,300 papers related to COVID-19 on PubMed, significantly demystifying the disease. Our frontline health care workers contributed enormously to improving the treatment and clinical management of SARS-CoV-2 infection. And HMS at large remained steadfastly committed, through MassCPR and other initiatives, to fostering global scientific and clinical collaboration for the betterment of human health worldwide.
     
    Many of our accomplishments are highlighted in the 2021 HMS Dean’s Report. This report is a snapshot of the excellence that HMS represents, made possible by all of you.
     
    Although we cannot foresee what 2022 will bring, I am optimistic that we will see a steady, if somewhat plodding, return to a more “normal” way of life. Based on data emerging from studies performed at HMS, we can feel encouraged that we are all acquiring some measure of protection from the multiple jabs or natural infections we have endured. We are also witnessing overall reduced disease severity, particularly with omicron, and lower rates of disease-related deaths.
     
    I am not endorsing complacency—far from it. We must remain resolute in confronting the pandemic’s ebbs, flows, and waves as we learn to live with the risk of new viral variants or unpredictably serious disease, and we must continue to protect those in our community who remain at greater risk for complications. What will be most important in the coming months is for each of us to take advantage of moments of calm to rest and regroup. I urge you to find more deliberate ways to tend to your mental and emotional well-being and to make those habits part of your routine.
     
    Throughout the pandemic, I have been inspired by the remarkable selflessness and brilliance of so many. You have helped one another, you have served HMS, and you have led in a global effort to combat this crisis. I thank you for remaining steadfast these past two years, and I ask your continued forbearance in the months to come. I am enormously proud of each and every one of you, and I am grateful for your continued perseverance as we look toward the future—and for the camaraderie that has sustained us all.
     
    Two things are clear to me: 2022 will be brighter, and HMS will emerge from this pandemic as a stronger community.
     
    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

  • Racism in any form is unacceptable

    March 17, 2021

    Dear Members of the HMS and HSDM Community:

    I was devastated to hear the news of the fatal shooting of eight people in Georgia, including six women of Asian descent. Although a motive has yet to be determined, this egregious act of violence follows months of escalating xenophobia and some 3,800 racist attacks and threats against the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities across the nation.

    Racism in any form is unacceptable. All members of our community should feel safe at work, at home, and everywhere in between. Unfortunately, members of the HMS and broader Harvard community have also been recent victims of malicious racist attacks. We stand with the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities and all who are targets of such despicable, hateful acts.

    It bears repeating that our HMS mission and community values, our diversity statement, and our anti-racism initiatives signify our resolute commitment to inclusive excellence, collaboration, and mutual respect.

    If you are feeling unsafe or are seeking support, I share with you these HMS and University resources:

    • Harvard’s anonymous hotline is available 24/7 to report a range of concerns, including harassment and other threats to personal safety and well-being. Operated by an independent, third-party provider, the hotline is accessible 24/7 by calling 877-694-2275 or by submitting a report online.
    • If you are concerned for your safety, call the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212 (Cambridge/Allston) or 617-432-1212 (Longwood). The HUPD takes hate crimes seriously, and any acts or threats of violence, harassment, or intimidation may be reported directly to the department.
    • The HMS Security and Campus Safety team offers both walking and taxi escort services. Walking escort services are available 24 hours a day by calling 617-432-1379 at least 15 minutes ahead of your departure time. A security officer will escort you anywhere on campus or to the nearest MBTA stop. Taxi escort services are available daily from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. from the NRB security desk at 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur. This service is free to a single destination within a one-mile radius for up to four people. Click on the link above for further details.
    • Blue light emergency phones are available at 41 locations throughout the Longwood and Cambridge campuses. When you push the button on any of these call boxes, you will be connected directly to HUPD dispatch.
    • Counseling and Mental Health Services provides care exclusively to students in the form of individual remote visits and group therapy, no matter where you may be living during the pandemic. Check out the many virtual workshops and groups here.
    • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free, confidential help for all Harvard employees, postdocs, and their adult household members. You can reach the EAP at any time for personal or work-related concerns at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278) or by visiting the EAP website.
    • The Ombuds Office helps all members of the HMS, HSDM, and Harvard Chan School community address issues affecting their work or studies, including bias in its many forms. The Ombuds Office is independent by design and provides highly confidential, impartial, and informal support for clarifying concerns, identifying goals, and considering all options for managing or resolving issues. Services include conflict coaching; informal mediation; education about resources and policies; bringing systemic trends and issues to leadership; and training on topics including negotiation and conflict management, authorship best practices, and difficult conversations.
    • The University Office for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging hosts group self-care and wellness Community Spaces for Affinity Groups throughout this semester, co-moderated by local health care and DIB professionals.
    • The HMS Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership has compiled a list of anti-racism resources.

    Please take care of yourselves and take care of each other. We are all, truly, better together.

    Sincerely,

    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

  • Our diversity, inclusion, belonging and anti-racism initiatives

    Oct. 21, 2020

    ​Oct. 21, 2020

    Dear Members of the HMS Community:

    Diversity, inclusion and belonging continue to be among my top priorities. Much has happened across our country in the few short months since we released the final report of our HMS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion and officially launched our Better Together plan. More names have been added to the long list of senseless and cruel killings of Black people who have died doing the same things that many of us have the privilege of taking for granted, and the feelings of unrest and divisiveness have only amplified.

    Let me say again that these threats and loss of life are the outrageous consequences of deeply ingrained racism, which has seen an ugly resurgence in recent years. I am sorry for the wounds these painful incidents have exacerbated for members of our community, many of whom are already dealing regularly with microaggressions—both intentional and unintentional.

    At the same time, more Americans are now awake to the discrimination and injustices faced by so many, and they have committed themselves to learning and taking action to support racial and social justice. Many passionate members of our community have come forward to share their experiences, ideas and suggestions to help make our school, our university, our city, our state and our country better places to live, learn and work. I am thankful to those who have come forward as individuals or groups, and I acknowledge that many have not come forward but may still be hurting. Please know that I see you, I hear you and I respect you.

    After deep consideration and consultation with Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership Joan Reede and my senior advisers, today I write to announce a series of initiatives to further advance HMS’ diversity, inclusion, belonging and anti-racism agenda. The initiatives outlined below align squarely with our diversity statement and Better Together plan, whose goal you may recall is to establish HMS as the institution of preference for diverse individuals. As a community of healers and leaders, it is critical that HMS’ students, postdocs, faculty, staff, residents and clinical fellows represent the patients and families who are the ultimate beneficiaries of our collective work and service.

    Perhaps most importantly, the framework for HMS’ diversity, inclusion, belonging and anti-racism agenda initiatives must remain grounded in our mission—to nurture a diverse, inclusive community dedicated to alleviating suffering and improving health and well-being for all through excellence in teaching and learning, discovery and scholarship, and service and leadership—and our community values. While there is certainly much more work to be done on local, regional and national levels, I believe that effecting change at HMS is the best way to create an enduring ripple effect. We must look inward at our own history, culture, policies and practices with the goal of examining ourselves and acting on those findings.

    Click here to watch a video of Joan Reede and me discussing the importance of these initiatives with Ahmed Mohammed, director of talent acquisition at HMS.

    video still of the conversants

    Over the last two years—before and since the release of our Better Together plan in June—we have made important progress. Thanks to the fortitude and dedication of members of our community, we have established the HMS Faculty Council Subcommittee on Artwork and Cultural Representations, resulting in a sculpture of Alice Hamilton in the Tosteson Medical Education Center, a portrait of William Augustus Hinton in the Waterhouse Room in Gordon Hall and self-portraits of medical student Pamela Chen in the dean’s office; released a statement of mutual respect and public discourse at HMS; established guiding principles regarding eponymous features at HMS; and renamed the Oliver Wendell Holmes Society in honor of Dr. William Augustus Hinton, among other important initiatives.

    There is much more we can and must do. This work is the responsibility of each and every one of us. Please talk with your colleagues, manager and department/unit administrator to learn how you can be a part of your local efforts. Join us and be a pollinator for racial justice and social change.

    Sincerely,
    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

    Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Anti-Racism Initiatives

    Framed within HMS’ mission statement, the following initiatives form the next wave of our important work toward becoming a more inclusive, diverse and anti-racism institution.

    • Teaching and Learning: We will review the functions and programs across Medical and Graduate Education—including admissions, learning environment, curriculum, student affairs, assessment and faculty and staff development—with the goal of identifying areas of concern, closing gaps and developing action plans to monitor and report racist actions that occur across programs and associated learning environments. We will develop new classes for master’s and PhD students to acknowledge the ways in which racism is embedded in science and scientific culture and work to redress these longstanding issues. We will create clearer, more direct outlets for members of our community to report instances of discrimination. And we will increase diversity in our external education course leadership and faculty, marketing and social media content, and in the breadth and depth of issues covered in these programs and materials.
    • Discovery and Scholarship: Within our preclinical departments, we will hire, as part of a cluster-hire initiative, up to four outstanding scientists in the life sciences who are committed to advancing HMS’ mission and community values. We will develop guidance, standards and metrics for faculty excellence in the areas of diversity, inclusion and belonging; create a path for faculty to be recognized for their contributions to this area; and signal to faculty the importance that HMS places on these contributions to its mission.
    • Service and Leadership: We will create events and dialogues that bring members of our community together to promote diverse perspectives on and understanding of history and context, and that bring our HMS community together with members of our neighboring communities. We will recognize and support the establishment of communities within community, such as the new HMS Black Postdoctoral Association and Black Staff Caucus. And we will launch a public dashboard to track progress toward our goals, be transparent and hold ourselves accountable.
  • Acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of our history

    September 23, 2020

    Dear Members of the HMS and HSDM Community:
     
    One of my early acts as dean was to form the HMS Faculty Council Subcommittee on Artwork and Cultural Representations. This broadly constituted group—made up of HMS faculty members, medical and graduate students, and both salaried and hourly staff drawn from departments and offices across the School—has been offering advice and direction on several projects throughout HMS over the past few years.
     
    In July, after receiving a petition spearheaded by our medical students urging the HMS administration to change the name of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Society, I asked the committee’s leaders, Nawal Nour and Fidencio Saldaña, and my strategic advisor, Willy Lensch, to convene their members along with additional individuals from the HMS and HSDM communities to form a special task force to address these specific objectives:

    1. Develop a set of guiding principles that broadly deliberated why we name features across our campus and under what circumstances we might consider changing an eponymous feature.
       
    2. Apply these guiding principles to consider a specific case: Should the name of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Society at HMS be changed, what general principles should guide such a decision, and if it should change, what might the new name be?

     

    The task force did its work and returned a deeply considered set of guiding principles, Inspiration and Aspiration: Elements to Consider Regarding Eponymous Features at HMS. On the specific question of the Holmes Society, the group wrote: “The Task Force agreed that Dr. Holmes’ contributions to science, medicine and elements of the culture of his time were incredible. However, his publicly articulated views concerning racial inequality, even understood in the context of their time and perhaps further informing our understanding of his role in the expulsion of HMS’s first three African American students, run especially contrary to the guiding principles articulated in the Inspiration and Aspiration document as well as other sources cited therein. This discordance was particularly evident regarding the specific use of Dr. Holmes’ name for a student society at HMS.”
     
    After considering several possible alternatives for a new namesake, the task force unanimously recommended the late William Augustus Hinton, AB 1905, MD 1912. I was delighted to hear this, as it was a little over a year ago that HMS celebrated the installation of a formal portrait of Dr. Hinton in the Waterhouse Room in Gordon Hall. Dr. Hinton was a Harvard College and HMS graduate, an HMS faculty member, a beloved teacher of medical students, an ardent advocate for the advancement of underrepresented people in science and medicine and the first Black full professor at Harvard. After being denied the opportunity to train as a surgeon because of his race, he became an internationally recognized infectious disease researcher who contributed enormously to public health and medical practice worldwide.
     
    I am writing today to announce that I have formally accepted the task force’s guiding principles document and recommendations to rename the Holmes Society in honor of Dr. Hinton, effective immediately. Please join me in celebrating the William Augustus Hinton Society. Click here to read more, including perspectives from members of the task force.
     
    As I said in my community email following the killing of George Floyd, HMS’ mission statement, community values and diversity statement signify our deep commitment to respect, integrity and accountability. Among these core principles is that we acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of our history and actively promote social justice, challenge discrimination and address disparities and inequities. With that, I want to thank and congratulate the task force, whose work is an important step on our path toward social justice.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

  • Wed., June 10: Pause for reflection against racism

    June 9, 2020

    Dear Members of the HMS and HSDM Community,  
     
    A week ago I sent a message calling out the insidious and injurious racism plaguing our society. The release this past Thursday of the report of our Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion was coincidental but meaningful and timely. I am in active discussions with members of my leadership team about implementing an anti-racism agenda at HMS. And tomorrow, Wed., June 10, I ask you to pause in solidarity with a nationwide STEM shutdown.
     
    While one day will not reverse the structural racism embedded in our country, it gives us the opportunity to build on our Better Together plan and to identify specific steps we can each take to confront racism. Tomorrow and always, I want to encourage all of us, faculty, administrators, postdocs, students and staff, as well as deans—current and former—to commit to open expression and discourse about the challenges we are all confronting, while remaining sensitive to the power of words to inflict pain and perpetuate injustice. I urge you to embrace this opportunity to reflect, become better informed and plan concrete actions.

    We have provided a number of anti-racism resources that may help as each of us takes on this important work. Additionally, I encourage departments, units, individuals and groups to provide one another with the important gift of time and space. Some of you may want to gather together via Zoom for group discussion and reflection. I will ask that we all, however, pause at noon and spend 8 minutes and 46 seconds in quiet reflection. While we will be apart, there will be power and community in our collective silence. 

    Thank you in advance for your thoughtful and constructive engagement, and for the hard work of confronting our history and our current challenges, while ensuring that we do better together in the days that lie ahead. 
     
    Sincerely,
     
    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

  • Better Together and Voices from the Community

    June 5, 2020

    Dear Members of the HMS Community:
     
    A couple of weeks ago, Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership Joan Reede and I earmarked this week for the release of the final report of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. We could not have anticipated that the timing would be so meaningful. As we embrace in our community values statement, our community is committed to seeking diversity and promoting equity and social justice. This week has highlighted the critical importance of this aspiration. 
     
    As I wrote in my message to you this past Sunday, it is imperative that we acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of our history and actively promote social justice, challenge discrimination and address disparities and inequities. I launched the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion with four goals in mind: 1) To analyze the landscape of HMS, its affiliates and Harvard University; 2) to develop an HMS diversity and inclusion vision, statement and policy that foster excellence in teaching, research and service; 3) to identify measures of accountability; and 4) to prioritize needs for deeper investigation, goal-setting and action.
     
    Chaired by Joan, the Task Force included 36 administrators, faculty, staff, postdocs and students. Their community-wide assessment comprised input gathered through numerous town meetings, focus groups, site visits, website portals and surveys. Emerging from their efforts were four key goals: develop people and infrastructure, build community and belonging, address culture and communication, and hold [us] accountable and generate knowledge.

    This final report serves as a springboard for an ambitious, long-term effort, Better Together. The goal of this effort is to implement the Task Force’s recommendations, with the priority of establishing HMS as the institution of preference for diverse candidates. As such, we strive to increase representation of historically marginalized individuals—those underrepresented in medicine (URM), those with disabilities, those who identify as LGBTQ and women—at all academic levels, particularly senior faculty and department administrators and leaders, at both HMS and its affiliated institutions. Better Together also acknowledges a shared responsibility and potential to address issues of health disparities, equity and social justice.

    I hope you will enjoy this week’s Voices from the Community video. It features Joan Reede interviewing Karina Gonzalez Herrera, Alden Landry and Nawal Nour about the work of the Task Force, how the pandemic has changed their work and how our patients, students, faculty, staff and trainees are being affected by what is happening in our country.

    Voices from the Community with Joan Reede

    Please join me in thanking Joan and the entire Task Force for their critically important work. I encourage you to read the report and consider how you can get involved in our diversity and inclusion efforts. I also hope you will join us for the Diversity Awards virtual ceremony on Tuesday, June 9, at 2 p.m.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University

  • In solidarity

    May 31, 2020

    Dear Members of the HMS Community:
     
    Sundays are meant for rest. Instead, there is pervasive unrest across our country. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis is the latest in what is a long history of senseless and cruel killings of black people, including 26-year-old Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, who would have turned 26 on May 8.
     
    It’s important to say their names and observe that each of them died doing things that many of us have the privilege of taking for granted, like grocery shopping, relaxing in our homes or taking a run. These activities will now cause many more to live in fear for themselves and their families.
     
    The backdrop for this violence rests in something more insidious that has not yet been fully addressed. And it is the result of racism, inequality and discrimination. Members of our black and brown communities and those on the margins, who often are without voice, are disproportionately suffering and dying from illness and disease.
     
    COVID-19 has taught the U.S. a hard lesson about the role of social determinants of health in patient outcomes, but this is not new information. We must go beyond recognizing the impact of these economic and social conditions and commit to further understanding the root causes and addressing them.
     
    These threats and loss of life must be called what they are: outrageous consequences of deeply ingrained racism, which has seen an ugly resurgence in recent years. This has reopened wounds for some members of our community and served as a reminder for others of the discrimination and injustices faced by many in our society. My heart goes out to those who are suffering and are fearful. Please know that I am committed to ensuring that HMS is a safe haven.
     
    HMS is a community of healers and leaders. Our mission and values and our diversity statement signify our deep commitment to respect, integrity and accountability. Among these core principles is that we acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of our history and actively promote social justice, challenge discrimination and address disparities and inequities.
     
    Each of us must stand as a defender of higher ideals and an advocate for a more just and inclusive society. I ask each of you to take a few moments today to reflect on our individual roles and responsibilities, as HMS prepares this week to release the formal report of our Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, which was chaired by Dr. Joan Reede and will speak to our aspirations as a community. Through both individual and collective action, HMS can be a force for good and an agent of change during these challenging times.
     
    In closing, I encourage you to read—or reread—Langston Hughes’ “Freedom’s Plow,” which uplifts us and reminds us to keep moving forward.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    George Q. Daley
    Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
    Harvard University