Moving Forward With Important Initiatives

A Letter from MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS - September 15, 2020

While COVID-19 is a current constant in our day-to-day lives, we must keep moving forward with important initiatives that embody our values and enhance our ability to deliver on our mission. In an early June update, I said that as an enterprise we need to elevate our commitment to equity and address racism.

As a part of this effort, I’m excited to announce the creation of the enterprise wide MUSC Office of Equity, which will fully integrate the academic and health care delivery dimensions of our ongoing institutional diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. This new office will be led by interim chief Dr. Willette Burnham-Williams, who will become a member of President’s Council and the enterprise senior leadership team. Under Dr. Burnham-Williams’ leadership, the Office of Equity is charged with further elevating, empowering and prioritizing innovative infrastructure, programs and resources across the enterprise. As an institution, our integrated purpose will be to address racism, elevate diversity, equity and respect, and help assure that our workforce, students and leadership reflect the communities we serve.

Furthermore, as a part of this aligned effort, MUSC Health is making a commitment to set the goal of truly delivering equitable health care throughout our state. This is an important and complex topic involving larger societal and socioeconomic issues that impact the health of underrepresented minority populations. Success in this domain will require commitment, innovative approaches and partnerships. Our mutual goal, fueled by our Office of Equity, is to be national leaders in this important domain and truly become “One MUSC.”

Dr. Burnham-Williams has served as chief diversity officer for the University since 2015, and joined the institution in 2006. A highly-qualified and talented individual with more than 30 years of leading strategic diversity goals, she consistently demonstrates our MUSC shared values and is eager to begin an enterprise wide needs assessment process that will guide important decisions in the days and months ahead. Please join me in congratulating her on this opportunity to help further transform our enterprise.

MUSC has never been more committed to, and capable of, making a positive and widespread difference than we are today. The creation of this new enterprise office and the health system’s strategic focus on delivering equitable health care are a fuller realization of our institutional values (collaboration, integrity, innovation, respect, compassion). As an institution, we are not just starting down this path. I am confident that MUSC is positioned well in this moment to succeed and contribute to important advances in these areas. The prior work and progress that we have achieved together during the last five years provides the opportunity for us to get to the next level- creating a culture that sets an example for our community and peers across the nation.

Finally, thank you for your continued commitment to monitoring and responding well to the COVID-19 pandemic. MUSC continues to serve the state as a trusted organization during this unprecedented time; your efforts have and will continue to make a difference. Please stay safe and well.

Yours in service,
David J. Cole, M.D., FACS
MUSC president