Dana A. Weiss Smith, EdM ’92, and Robert A. Smith, AB ’81, MBA ’85
Bolstering Dean’s efforts to build a diverse community
Diversity and Community
Harvard Medical School can be a force for social change, says George Q. Daley, AB ’82, MD ’91, PhD. That’s why, since early in his HMS deanship, he has prioritized building a culture of diversity, inclusion, and belonging
“Essential to such a culture is that every person feels empowered, comfortable, and safe to express opinions and voice concerns and is treated with respect, tolerance, and dignity,” says Daley, who has spearheaded a multipronged approach to address the scourge of racism in medicine and biomedical science. After becoming dean in 2017, he announced the creation of the HMS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. He charged Joan Reede, MD, MPH ’90, SM ’92, MBA, dean for diversity and community partnership, with assembling and leading it. From this task force sprung the Better Together plan, the goal of which is to establish HMS as the institution of preference for diverse candidates, including underrepresented minorities, women, those who identify as LGBTQ, and individuals with disabilities.
In pursuit of this goal, HMS has been acting on multiple fronts. Among those actions:
The School is considering how to enhance the cluster hire model that it recently employed to hire six new junior faculty—four on the HMS Quad and two at Boston Children’s Hospital. By prioritizing scientific excellence and a demonstrated commitment to HMS’s institutional values of diversity and community, the cluster hire model enables HMS and its affiliated hospitals to build a cross-institutional, cross-disciplinary, self-reinforcing community of scientists, physicians, and leaders who are committed to inclusive excellence.
The Program in Medical Education (PME) at HMS commissioned a Task Force Against Racism to investigate racism within the functions and programs across the PME and offer concrete recommendations and possible solutions. The task force—co-chaired by Andrea Reid, MD ’88, MPH ’01, associate dean for student and multicultural affairs and director of the HMS Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs, and Fidencio Saldaña, MD ’01, MPH ’05, dean for students—examined the School’s learning environment, the curriculum, faculty and staff development, the admissions process, assessment practices, and student affairs. Five subcommittees were formed, each of which developed bold and expansive recommendations that will ensure anti-racist strategies are embedded into the fabric of PME.
The School is creating events and dialogues that promote diverse perspectives on and understanding of history and context, and that bring the HMS community together with members of its neighboring communities.
I don't think we can be an exemplary, world-class institution unless we are a diverse institution.
George Q. Daley
“I don’t think we can be an exemplary, world-class institution unless we are a diverse institution,” Daley says. “I don’t believe we can lead the world as researchers, educators, or clinicians without embracing, embodying, and truly entertaining a wide range of perspectives and experiences.”
In support of Daley’s efforts to build an inclusive and diverse health sciences community across HMS and its affiliated hospitals, Dana A. Weiss Smith, EdM ’92, and Robert A. Smith, AB ’81, MBA ’85, recently established the Robert and Dana Smith Dean’s Fund for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with a $1 million gift. The Smiths say they are thrilled to partner with Daley as he sets an example at HMS.
The Better Together plan’s overall vision for success includes increased representation of historically marginalized individuals at all levels, particularly senior faculty and department administrators and leaders.
“From the work we do at both Boston Children’s Hospital and in the community, we understand the value that his leadership and engagement at HMS—the pinnacle of its field—can bring to our local, national, and international communities,” the Smiths say. “Over time, this effort will help diminish the health disparities that challenge our nation and the world by building a work force which, from bench to bedside, improves the quality and character of care that HMS alumni will deliver.”
Daley, in turn, is thrilled to have the Smiths as partners. “I am so grateful to Dana and Rob for supporting my efforts to diversify the field of medicine,” Daley says. He emphasized that by recruiting students from underrepresented backgrounds and supporting them holistically while at HMS, the School is more likely to retain them as residents, fellows, and the next generation of faculty physicians within HMS’s affiliated hospitals. “While there is certainly much more work we can and must do on a local, regional, and national level, I believe that effecting change at HMS is the best way to create an enduring ripple effect.