School of Medicine to host town hall meetings for faculty, staff, students

In response to the tragic events in Ferguson, Washington University School of Medicine will host a series of town hall meetings for faculty, staff and students beginning Wednesday, Aug. 27.

“Our objective is to engage our faculty, staff and students so we, together, can best determine what we can do to make our university, the Medical Campus and the greater St. Louis community stronger, more cohesive, more compassionate and more inclusive as we try to move forward,” said Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

Scheduled times and locations for the one-hour town hall meetings are:

  • 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, in Moore Auditorium
  • 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in Erlanger Auditorium
  • 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in Moore Auditorium
  • 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, in Cori Auditorium
  • 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 5, in Cori Auditorium

Because space is limited, registration is requested. Follow this link to sign up to attend a meeting. Requests will be honored in the order received until capacity is reached.

Dean Shapiro plans to open most of the sessions.

Terrence Freeman, PhD, a professor at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and a frequent speaker on diversity-related issues, will speak at the meetings Aug. 27 and Sept 3 and 5. He will discuss St. Louis’ history as it relates to diversity and will facilitate the town hall discussions along with diversity and inclusion leaders from the School of Medicine’s Department of Human Resources.

Denise DeCou, one of the school’s diversity leaders, said the facilitators hope to spark constructive conversation about diversity and inclusion on this campus.

Another goal is to identify ways members of the Medical Campus can be of help to Ferguson, its residents and the entire St. Louis region.

“We want to give people an opportunity to talk about what has occurred, how it has affected us and what we can do to rally support for Ferguson to help the community rebuild and grow,” DeCou said.

Several initiatives already are underway. Among them:

  • Washington University’s Gephardt Institute for Public Service has organized a food drive, with drop-off options on and off campus. More information on the effort is available through the Gephardt Institute’s Office of Community Service.
  • The Regional Business Council and the North County Incorporated Regional Development Association together have established the “Reinvest North County Fund” to assist businesses and schoolchildren affected by the unrest. The School of Medicine has made a donation. Those interested in donating personally can visit this Web page with details on the fundraising effort.
  • A north St. Louis County job fair in which the university plans to participate is being planned for the near future. Details will be made available as the event nears.
  • The School of Medicine has provided counseling support to the Ferguson-Florissant School District to help the district’s employees address the needs of students whose lives have been disrupted by the events.
  • The School of Medicine and BJC HealthCare have donated medical supplies needed by the St. Louis County Health Department for work in Ferguson.

“In the coming months, we need to identify what else we can do to help the Ferguson community and our entire region,” Shapiro said. “At the same time, we will continue to have important conversations about our campus community and how to improve diversity and inclusiveness here. This is vital to what we aspire to be, what we stand for and to our core missions of education, research and patient care in an environment where everybody feels welcome.”