Dear UCSF Community:
Today we join our students in observing the first anniversary of White Coats for Black Lives, a demonstration to call attention to health inequities and increase awareness of racism and violence as public health problems. We are proud that UC San Francisco is one of the places where this movement started, inspiring similar actions around the country.
Developing and sustaining a culture of equity and inclusion is a high priority for UCSF. Chancellor Sam Hawgood is actively engaged with campus and faculty leadership to ensure that concrete steps are being taken to address the issues raised by our students. The Office of Diversity and Outreach is focused on increasing the recruitment and retention of diverse learners, faculty and staff, establishing a climate that is equitable and inclusive, and supporting education, research and patient care practices that facilitate health equity.
In January, the School of Medicine refocused its annual retreat on how race, whether as a social construct or a risk factor shaped by environmental forces, contributes to disease. Faculty and students also spoke of how discrimination has affected them personally. This fall, the School of Medicine devoted a significant part of the orientation for incoming medical students to communication about differences. Other projects, such as the Differences Matter initiative, are in progress.
All of our health professional schools and the Graduate Division continue to focus on these issues. The School of Pharmacy helps post baccalaureate students to improve their academic foundation in science so they can become more competitive applicants to pharmacy school. The School of Dentistry now has an associate dean of diversity and inclusion, and these issues have been written into its strategic plan. The School of Nursing has adopted a diversity initiative with the current goal of increasing underrepresented minorities on the faculty by one third. And each summer the Graduate Division brings a diverse group of undergraduates from across the country to learn about basic science research.
Our schools admit a justly representative population of students, but we have done less well as an overall community in addressing our own lack of diversity. And it is a sad fact that, despite three decades of trying, health disparities for Americans of African, Hispanic, and Native American heritage have not been eliminated. Our students rightly question whether we as healers, educators, and scientists are doing enough to address wrongs that, while they may have begun long ago, persist to this day.
To remind us all of our obligation to continue working in this area, the students have created an art installation at the UCSF Library on the Parnassus campus that invites passersby to contemplate these inequities and offer their thoughts on how to resolve them. The project will remain on display at UCSF in the coming months. We invite you to contribute and to keep looking for ways to make our community as inclusive, equitable, and supportive as possible. UCSF is committed to being a leader in this area, just as we have been in so many other fields that affect the health of people locally and around the world.
Dan Lowenstein, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Dr. Robert B. and Mrs. Ellinor Aird Professor of Neurology
Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD
Vice Chancellor, Diversity and Outreach