Illustrations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis with the text The time is always right to do what is right. attributed to MLK, Jr.

MUSC Presidential Update - June 4

Dear MUSC family,

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and recent local and national events related to social injustice, racism and community unrest, the last two weeks have been upsetting for us as individuals and a community. We are processing and reacting to so much information that it’s difficult to put adequately into words the myriad and complex emotions, thoughts and actions that we are experiencing and seeing.

First, let me share that on a daily basis, I am inspired by the ways in which you embrace and live MUSC’s shared values. In this moment, it’s most important for each of us to listen, share, discuss, learn and move forward in a purposeful manner. We need to double down on our commitment to support and be examples of equity, justice, respect and opportunity for the lives we touch. With so many people living in dread that the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their sex or gender identity or their religion makes them targets of hate and bias, we must work together to disable the prejudice, discrimination and racism that is embedded in our community. As hard as we might try, many of us will never fully understand the trauma and frustration this creates. We can each work harder to support and elevate those in pain and call out such behavior when it is apparent. We must help people who are suffering by leading from wherever we are to reinforce positive change.

MUSC has never been more committed to our values than we are today. This means that each of us has a serious responsibility as members of an academic health sciences center to do our part in addressing important issues that are tied to long-standing racism. Disparities in health care access and outcomes have an ongoing impact on our rural, minority and underserved communities. It continues to propagate a lack of equity and opportunity for a significant portion of South Carolina. To offer just one example, we are acting amid a global pandemic to minimize health care disparities due to COVID-19. As South Carolina’s leading academic health system with a long-standing focus on decreasing health disparities, we will continue to play a key role in creating innovative and lasting change that positively affects our local and statewide communities.

As an MUSC family, in particular, I do believe we are on the right path, given the incredible amount of strategic work by numerous leaders, individuals and teams throughout the enterprise. We began this work more than five years ago in an overt and intentional manner to elevate our commitment to embrace diversity and become a more inclusive organization in all domains. Our efforts were then, and are now, heartfelt and substantive. We will continue on this journey together by listening to, learning from, respecting and healing each other.

Thank you for taking the time to read this today. I’m grateful for the incredible compassion, dedication, skill and strength you bring to the MUSC mission, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

Yours in service,

David J. Cole, M.D., FACS
MUSC president