March 2, 2021
Dear School of Medicine Community,
As many of you may know, there has been significant discussion recently regarding a proposed leadership change made to our Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program. On Sunday, February 28, Dr. Dennar wrote an open letter to the community. While I generally do not believe it appropriate to discuss employee issues in a public forum, I would like to confirm that I have responded. Given the significant interest in this issue, I also believe it is important to share the following update.
The Graduate Medical Education Committee (GMEC), a diverse set of leaders representing a cross-section of the Medical School as well as other institutions, was unanimous and unequivocal in their recommendation for a change in leadership. I truly appreciate the diligence, thoughtfulness, and commitment of the members of the GMEC. However, as Dean I believe I have an obligation to consider not only the report and GMEC’s recommendations but the broader context, including issues that have been raised around equity, diversity, and inclusion in medicine.
I have heard directly from members of our community who are highly supportive of Dr. Dennar and her work; and I’ve also heard stories of students and residents in our BIPOC community who look up to Dr. Dennar as a mentor. In a world where there are too few Black leaders in medicine, she has served as an inspiration to many.
I firmly believe that the Tulane School of Medicine is inherently not racist; however, I realize that we must more proactively and diligently incorporate anti-racist values into our working and learning environment. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers, but I recognize that we don’t—as an institution or as a nation—do enough collectively to understand how cultural norms and expectations can unintentionally create barriers toward true inclusivity and academic success.
My highest priority is to ensure the success of the program, its residents, and its leadership. After careful consideration, I have offered to restore Dr. Dennar as program director of the Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program predicated on her acceptance of several support mechanisms. These include executive coaching, additional administrative support to help leadership meet all compliance and reporting requirements, and on-going oversight and guidance, all of which will help to ensure that issues raised in the special report do not reoccur.
I am dedicated to fostering an environment where every member of our community can work, learn, and thrive. I am committed to our important work to end racial disparities in the health system and believe that Tulane and each of you must be part of the solution. I am hopeful that we can do this work together.
Lee Hamm, senior vice president and dean, School of Medicine