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Accountability during our anti-racism journey

‘Transforming OHSU into a truly anti-racist and multi-cultural institution is a journey’

This message was shared with the OHSU community Thursday, Sept. 10.

“Transforming OHSU into a truly anti-racist and multi-cultural institution is a journey, and our goal is to continuously evolve our culture, policies and practices so that the environment at OHSU aligns with our ideals. We strive to create an institution where all members have the support needed to be successful.

We are committed to this work, and we are focusing on the discussions, decisions and changes that will keep us moving forward to transform our organization. Although there will be challenges as we learn and grow as a university, we won’t stop trying because we must be successful. We thank the leaders of our Black Employee Resource Group (BERG) and others for helping to identify what should be our priorities -- holding us all accountable. We also appreciate the BERG’s ongoing advocacy for Black members of our university, as well as for the community-at-large.

Last week, leaders of the BERG sent OHSU leadership two passionate letters related to racism at OHSU. This exchange is part of our transformational process, and based on our commitment and responsibility to the entire OHSU community, we’d like to take this opportunity to share the BERG leadership’s letters and OHSU’s response.

We greatly appreciate the dedication of those who are committed to affecting change at OHSU. Thank you for believing in OHSU’s potential to become an anti-racist, multi-cultural institution.”

Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, OHSU President
Derick Du Vivier, M.D., M.B.A., Senior Vice President, OHSU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The following are some examples of initiatives and action steps OHSU leaders have completed and/or committed to thus far:


  • Appointed Derick Du Vivier senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion reporting directly to OHSU President Dr. Danny Jacobs. In this new role, Dr. Du Vivier will have expanded authority and responsibility to implement actions, metrics and initiatives across that institution that will continually bring us closer to creating the culture and environment we aspire to having across all of our missions.
  • Revise the OHSU Code of Conduct to make displaying hateful imagery an explicit violation, subject to discipline up to and including termination, while considering further modification to our policies and procedures based on feedback from the BERG, respected national authorities and other people of color. 
  • Enhance and build on unconscious bias training and develop a training and mentoring program for OHSU members of color to support upward mobility and career development. Add $1.5 million to the 2020-21 (FY21) budget to fund these and other diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which can be leveraged further with philanthropy, including scholarships, faculty recruitment, staff development and efforts to identify and address structural barriers to equity. This is a 10% increase from the 2019-20 (FY20) budget of $14.8 million allocated for diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Terminated the OHSU contract with Oregon Correction Enterprises for laundry services.
  • Review our Public Safety organization.
  • Assess the workplace culture in Food and Nutrition Services to help align the current culture with our ideals. 
  • Added a day of paid leave in 2020 to honor Juneteenth, extended until Nov. 8 to accommodate those with scheduling challenges, and discussion of how to operationalize this in future years.
  •  Additionally, we have implemented several programs and initiatives to address inequities in pay exacerbated by structural racism. Pay equity studies have been undertaken for all employees whose pay is not governed by collective bargaining agreements. We also are developing an initiative to help employees with childcare needs.


  • Develop professional development programs to understand and interrupt anti-racist behaviors including the diversity tax, invalidation and social isolation, and expand bystander training.
  • Support OHSU members who feel hyper-visible and hyper-isolated as single members of underrepresented groups in many of our units. Guidance shared by Dr. Charles Thomas, professor and chair of radiation medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, in a recent New England Journal of Medicine perspective piece, among other sources, will help inform these efforts.   
  • Continue our commitment to making COVID-19 testing available to members of underrepresented communities through our vans and tents in community locations.
  • Amplify, support and accelerate faculty- and staff-created programs designed to promote health equity and the mitigation of social determinants of health.
  • Better tie to public health and health care efforts to community interests and needs, starting by listening to communities about what they need.

School of Medicine

  • Established an Equity and Justice Subcommittee of the Undergraduate Medical Education (M.D.) program’s Curriculum Committee at the committee’s July meeting. The subcommittee will develop and continuously improve curricular elements related to the elimination of health inequities and the promotion of an anti-racist and anti-oppressive medical education.
  • Analyze the use of race in clinical algorithms that guide patient care to root out uses where factoring for race is, in practice, leading to less aggressive care for patients of color, as detailed in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article. (Dr. Anderson launched this initiative July 15 in the OHSU Health Academic Advisory Council, which she chairs.)
  • Expand anti-racism faculty development offerings, including in the area of bystander training and review and enrich our professional development activities with anti-racist education, exploration of cultural competencies, and ensuring respect for gender identity.
  • Enhance recruitment and interview strategies, ensuring diverse and unbiased interviewers.
  • Create a Faculty Diversity Intervention Team to develop and implement specific interventions to recruit and retain a faculty diverse in gender, ethnicity, and race.  We will also work to ensure maximal support, mentorship and sponsorship for individuals who could benefit. We will begin with faculty but hope to expand to all hiring in the School of Medicine.
  • Encourage all faculty and staff to report gender, race and ethnicity in Oracle under Employee Self Service, Personal Information. This will help ensure accurate data to understand our baseline and to track – and hold ourselves accountable for – our progress.

Education: Provost's Office and the Schools of Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health

  • In addition to many school-specific anti-racism initiatives, develop admissions committee policies for all OHSU academic programs that promote equitable and anti-racist outcomes. All admissions committee members will be required to complete Unconscious Bias and Anti-Racism training. We will also develop a pool of trained faculty observers from outside the programs who will observe the admissions committees to guide equitable approaches, utilizing nationally developed best practices.
  • Collaborate with the OHSU Faculty Senate Academic Program Review Committee to require all academic programs scheduled for review to conduct self-studies and report specific information about their diversity, equity and inclusion work. The formal requirement will begin in 2021-22, but all programs scheduled for review in 2020-21 are being asked to augment their self-study with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.  Senate-developed resources will help leaders assess and improve their programs. Vice Provost Constance Tucker led development of the FREE (Foster Respectful and Equitable Education) website to support course design, best practices and assessment. 


  • As part of restarting research, we are requiring every lab to submit plans for how they will practice anti-racism. We are analyzing the plans to identify best practices.
  • Host a series of Town Halls, starting Aug. 13, focused on anti-racism, to facilitate best practices in labs and to discuss and problem-solve around racism in scientific data and dissemination.
  • Continued support of the OHSU Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Initiative and the OHSU Fellowship for Diversity in Research postdoc program.
  • Fund Racial Equity and Inclusion Centers pilot program, derived from the proposal from the Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science.
  • Utilize our research integrity committees (the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the Institutional Review Board) to evaluate and create action plans to break down systematic racism in science.
  • Enhance training and identify practice and language changes needed to promote anti-racism at our research development and administration leadership levels.
  • Consider how best to be proactively anti-racist in working with communities, especially for human subjects research or research that directly touches peoples’ lives. 



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