Med School Diversity Task Force Will Formulate Recommendations

Harvard Medical School Quadrangle
Gordon Hall of Medicine, an administrative building at Harvard Medical School, sits overlooking the Quadrangle at the Longwood campus.
Harvard Medical School’s Diversity Task Force will meet six times over the next few months to formulate recommendations for Medical School Dean George Q. Daley ’82 about how to make the school more inclusive.

The task force will begin its work amid broad discussion of diversity at the school. Last year, a group of Medical School students calling itself the Racial Justice Coalition submitted a petition calling on University President Drew G. Faust to prioritize diversity during the search for the next dean of the school, among other demands.

After becoming dean in January, Daley announced the creation of the task force in an effort to seek a “stronger and deeper evaluation of the issues we are confronting.” Daley charged Dean of Diversity Joan Y. Reede with assembling the task force, which met for the first time Feb. 17.

After multiple discussions with members of the community, Reede brought together dozens of Medical School-affiliated students, faculty, researchers, and custodial and security staff with the goal of representing a wide swath of the school.

“I think as the meeting opened, I think that people got a real sense that the individuals on the task force are there partly representing the group in their multiple identities… but also because of their own personal journeys,” Reede said.


Timothy M. McGinnis, a Medical School student who is a member of the task force, participated in the First Year Urban Neighborhood Campaign orientation program and joined the Racial Justice Coalition before becoming involved in the task force. He said that he was “heartened” with the task force's creation.

“I view it as a way to serve immediately in the community where I find myself, and attempt to hold an institution to its ideals if possible,” McGinnis said.

In an interview, Reede outlined the four-step charge for the task force. The first part of the task force’s work, Reede said, is creating a “vision statement” for the Medical School that “is consistent with the school’s mission with diversity.”

The second objective of the task force is measuring the school’s progress towards becoming more diverse, according to Reede. The task force will create metrics, Reede said, to “hold ourselves accountable for achieving goals of diversity and inclusion.”

Reede said that the third step, which she called “a deeper dive into the community,” will include a closer examination of diversity initiatives across the Medical School and its affiliated facilities with the hopes of finding areas for improvement. Lastly, Reede said, the task force will create recommendations based on the overview and create “achievable” policy changes.

McGinnis said he found the wide scope of the task force “stirring.”

“It truly does seem like we will be able to solicit and listen to viewpoints that many of us wouldn’t have even thought to include in the first place,” McGinnis said.

The task force is not the only diversity-related program at the Medical School, but rather a “convergence” of many efforts and an opportunity to reflect on already existing ones, Reede said.

“There has been a lot of initiative from not just our students, but our faculty and trainees and others who are concerned with issues that range from diversity to immigration to health disparities,” Reede said. “People have been involved in these spaces for a while.”

The task force will meet for its second time in March to discuss the role of diversity in recruitment policies and programs.

—Staff writer Alexis J. Ross can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @aross125.

—Staff writer William L. Wang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @wlwang20.