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The Why: Turning words into demonstrable action

A message from President Jacobs

CONTENT WARNING: In support of trauma-informed communications, please be aware that this message contains topics that may be activating for survivors of gender violence. The Confidential Advocacy Program can be reached 24/7 by calling 833-495-2277. Additional resources for OHSU members are available here.

Aerial OHSU Marquam Hill
Aerial of OHSU. (OHSU/Aaron Bieleck)

This message was shared with the OHSU Community Wednesday, March 10.

As we continue to learn more about the sexual assault lawsuit and attempt to make sense of the details surrounding this complex situation, I want you to know that I hear you. This is an incredibly distressing moment for our institution as it intersects issues related to gender, race and power that are found all too often in health care and academic medicine. The concerns are all valid and so important. I agree with the urgent need for real, decisive, clear and tangible action to correct the root causes that allow sexual harassment, discrimination and racism to exist at our university.

We will identify the cultural and subcultural changes that must occur at OHSU to establish a community that is safe and trauma-informed. The legal matters will be addressed in the court of law, but there must also be keen and intentional action taken on sexual harassment and discrimination in our community. For this reason, the Chair of our Board of Directors, Wayne Monfries, and I believe that OHSU must engage a national leader with experience and deep expertise in gender and racial justice, and related matters at institutions like ours.

Chair Monfries and I are working to identify such an expert who can investigate, analyze and review OHSU’s environment, our practices, policies and procedures and their effectiveness in preventing and properly addressing discrimination, harassment and retaliation at our university. We are committed to this review and hope to have more details as soon as possible. We further commit to a transparent process to expose any and all frailties and barriers that prevent us from being a trauma-informed, multi-cultural and anti-racist institution, free of discrimination or harassment, which is our ultimate objective. We welcome your active participation and feedback and will share all recommendations.

In an effort to improve communication and transparency, OHSU will be filing a legal response to the lawsuit later today, which will include additional factual details about the case. Although this communication will answer some questions that have been raised, it will likely lead to more conversations, questions and concerns. Unfortunately, it may also be activating for survivors of gender violence. For that, I am deeply sorry.

I too have many unanswered questions related to concerns raised by the lawsuit. Our action plan for the consultative review will facilitate the deep examination required to get us on the path to healing and improvement.

Everyone should know that we will also be filing a protective order to ensure the legal proceedings are untainted. We recognize the importance of both voice and vocation. As such, we do not want to silence anyone but have witnessed the harmful tone and tenor of many social media conversations that threaten the ability to conduct a fair and unbiased process.

As we move forward with the legal process and embark on the larger journey to heal, learn and grow as a community, please join me in centering our efforts.


Sincerely yours,
Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, President

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