National Institute on Aging

A Shake-Up in Diversity Efforts at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School

The Perelmen School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania recently shut down its Office of Diversity and Community Outreach. The office, originally established in 1968, was responsible for the recruitment and retention of minority medical students, implementation and management of mentoring programs for college and medical students, and overseeing the Educational Pipeline Program and the Summer Mentorship Program, which brought young minority high school students to campus.

As a result, Karen Hamilton, assistant dean and director of the Educational Pipeline Program has been let go. Dr. Hamilton holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio State University and a doctorate in comparative and international education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Students at the medical school started an online petition in protest of the decision to close the Office of Diversity. One of the students’ main concerns is that they were not consulted about the changes. That petition, which has been signed by more than 900 individuals, may be seen here.

After the petition was begun, senior vice dean for education Gail Morrison announced that Horace Delisser had been appointed to the new position of associate dean for diversity and inclusion within the Academic Programs Office. Dr. Delisser is an associate professor of medicine in the critical care division of the medical school. He earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. The administration was quick to point out that Dr. Delisser, who is a physician, will be better prepared to help students with issues concerning their medical education, than administrators who had not undergone medical training.

A search for a vice dean for diversity is also underway. This position will report directly to the dean of the medical school.


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