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A Conspicuous Absence Of Diversity

It was a historic moment in UC Riverside’s quest to establish the first California public medical school in more than 40 years. More than 200 invited members of the community and campus officials gathered March 18 to celebrate the opening of the School of Medicine Research Building.

The three-story 58,000 square-foot structure houses four large shared-lab rooms and faculty offices. The state-ofthe- art energy efficient building is designed to meet the LEED Silver sustainability standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“It’s a monument to your collaboration, persistence and your passion,” Chancellor Timothy P. White told the crowd gathered for the dedication. “This is a powerful thing.”

“Your presence here is emblematic of the partnership between the community and the university to expand the physician workforce and, especially, to improve health care access to our underserved communities,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, founding dean of the medical school.

Herb K. Schultz, regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called the medical school a beacon for homegrown education and training.

“Keeping these medical providers in the community they grew up in is what I think the UCR School of Medicine will be able to show the rest of the country,” Schultz said.

Schultz, Dean Olds, Chancellor White and other speakers thanked members of the greater Inland Southern California region from government, the philanthropic community, medical, non-profit and business communities for support of the School of Medicine. But some in the audience questioned the leadership’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.

Noting the predominately white audience and those participating in the ribbon cutting, Sylvia N. Martin-James, a long time advocate for the university and ardent supporter of the medical school asked, “Is this the image we want to show the rest of the country?”

“UCR is one of the most diverse universities in the nation. Unfortunately I don’t see that rich diversity and inclusiveness reflected here today,” she said. Martin-James is a former president of the UCR Alumni Association, vice-president of the Citizens University Committee and chairperson of the Dr. Barnett Grier and Eleanor Jean Grier Concerned Citizens Advisory Group of the University of California, Riverside.

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