Messages from Leadership

CUIMC-wide Committee to Address Structural Racism
July 15, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

As a follow-up to our June 18th email entitled CUIMC's Commitment to Equity, we are writing now to address our next steps building upon multiple discussions with faculty, students and staff leaders. As individuals and participants in groups engaged in science, population health, medicine/clinical care, education/training, and community programs, we must confront the issues of structural racism and implement durable antiracist solutions. We need to articulate a thoughtful and deliberate set of priorities that cross all our domains of activities. These need to be matched by expeditious implementation so that we can witness and experience rapid progress. Moreover, implementation also requires constant feedback and self-evaluation so we do not lose sight of our aspirations, commitments and values.

In order to achieve our goals, and building upon the past reports from the Dean’s Advisory Committee’s recommendations as well as actions taken in other schools, we are convening a CUIMC-wide committee that will address issues related to the following and in which we will work very closely with our partners at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital under the leadership of Dr. Steven Corwin:

  1. Recruitment, retention and promotion of a diverse workforce
  2. Education, training and curricular changes to promote equity (with student representation)
  3. Community programs and relations
  4. Health and health care equity, disparities, and social justice research
  5. Clinical practice
  6. Civility and professionalism

The composition of this overarching committee, to be co-chaired by Dr. Olajide Williams and Dr. Rafael Lantigua, will include faculty from all four health science schools. All members will be announced in the near future. Working groups will be formed to address each area above. There will be coordination of the working group co-chairs as well as specific representatives of each school to review recommendations emerging from the working groups. In addition, there will be input from established groups such as the Academy of Community and Public Service that have extensive connections and work within our community. Complementary school-specific and/or group-specific committees of students, faculty and staff will be convened to work on issues specific to each, and will have the opportunity to share thoughts on cross-cutting issues.

While this describes our initiatives for our faculty and trainees at all levels, we also plan to have similar approaches for issues that specifically touch our staff.

We look forward to utilizing the collective wisdom of our faculty, students and staff to ensure that CUIMC is an institution where the most diverse workforce can be maximally successful. We anticipate a report by September to be submitted to the Deans.

Thank you for your attention and commitment.

Anil K. Rustgi, MD
Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the 
Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine

Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH
Dean, Mailman School of Public Health

Lorraine Frazier, RN, PhD
Dean, School of Nursing

Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent 
Dean, College of Dental Medicine

Anne L. Taylor, MD
Senior Vice President for Faculty Affairs and Career Development at CUIMC
Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, VP&S

CUIMC's Commitment to Equity
June 18, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

Recognizing that we are at a critical moment in history, where longstanding and pervasive structural racism has been escalated to an epidemic of violence against Black Americans and others of color, Columbia University Irving Medical Center (Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Mailman School of Public Health, School of Nursing, and College of Dental Medicine) recognizes the need to be a leader in developing and implementing needed solutions. There is no question that structural racism has been embedded for 400 years in our society and has shaped negative aspects of our country. There is no question that there has been and continues to be resulting harm to the health and well-being of Black Americans and other people of color. Furthermore, this structural racism harms the fabric of our national cohesion, both present and future. While CUIMC has been dedicated to building a fully diverse and inclusive community, there is a need to intensify commitments and accelerate transformation in the face of this epidemic. 

Recent statements by Dean Lee Goldman and vigils on June 8 and separately on June 10 are intended to catalyze a process of honest recognition of the dimensions and costs of structural racism with solutions that result in substantive and enduring change. We are simultaneously committed to identifying and accomplishing the transformative actions needed to move purposefully to become an organization that is truly antiracist, diverse, multicultural, and fully inclusive. These actions will involve all of our constituencies, with implementation beginning this summer and building and sustaining over time. We seek to build a model of restorative justice and true inclusion that our faculty, students, staff, and other members of our community can proudly build from, whether they stay at Columbia or go elsewhere in the world.  

To begin this process, members of Columbia University Irving Medical Center will be convened by the four deans into broadly representative working groups that will be established in the next two weeks, building upon what we have done to date. Their charge will be to review the current status and recommend needed changes in our communications and culture especially in, recruitment and support of our faculty, staff, and community; curricular content; student, faculty, and staff diversity and success; community partnership programs; research in health disparities, social injustice, and racism; and clinical programs. 

Details will follow and we will ensure that this process will move forward rapidly. Please be assured that the leadership of all four CUIMC schools is highly committed to this work and to being fully diverse, inclusive, and antiracist institutions in which all will thrive. Let us use the Columbia University Juneteenth holiday as a time of reflection and resolve to begin a new chapter.

- Dean Lee Goldman, Interim Dean Designate Anil Rustgi, Dean Linda Fried, Dean Christian Stohler, Dean Lorraine Frazier