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Culture of Caring

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I have unwaivering faith in our community, our college and university

A message from Dean Beauchamp to the College of Human Medicine Community, January 24, 2019:

Following last evening’s resignation of John Engler as interim president of Michigan State University, this morning the MSU Board of Trustees appointed Satish Udpa as acting president. Dr. Udpa is the MSU executive vice president for administrative services, a post he's held since 2013. Before that, he was the dean of the College of Engineering for seven years.

I am pleased with this appointment and believe Dr. Udpa has the right balance of compassion and leadership that our university greatly needs in these difficult times.

As a college, we exist to serve others and protect those who are vulnerable. Our actions and words must be consistent with our mission. We have a responsibility to hold each other accountable to the values that define us – especially if we are to continue to be the place people turn to in times of need, as well the community that those seeking to serve are inspired to call their own.  

I have unwavering faith in our community, our college and our university.

Moving ahead, I have every confidence that the presidential search committee – including the College of Human Medicine’s Dr. Wanda Lipscomb – will select a leader who embodies the principles and values we collectively share as the Michigan State University community.

Dean Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS

MSU makes scores of changes after Nassar scandal

Excerpt from Detroit News on October 8, 2018:

"Across the country, the standard of care is to offer chaperones during exams involving a sensitive area of the body, said Dr. Norman Beauchamp Jr., MSU associate provost and assistant vice president for health affairs. The newly required chaperones typically will be medical assistants, Beauchamp said, and they have been trained on how to report issues of concern."

Read full article

Can Michigan State Recover and Chart a New Path for Higher Education?

Dean Beauchamp joins seven MSU deans in outlining three imperatives for creating needed cultural change in this Inside Higher Ed article published July 11, 2018:

Even as Michigan State University struggles to respond to the worst crisis in our institutional history, there are signs that the powerful voices of more than 300 sexual abuse survivors, victims of former MSU physician Larry Nassar, are shifting the culture of higher education. Amplified by the global impact of the Me Too movement, their courage and testimony compel us in higher education to confront the power dynamics that can make academe a haven for predatory behavior and abuse.

At MSU, we are beginning to make overdue changes in how we respond to allegations of sexual misconduct and the systems by which we provide health care. Over the last few months, we have expanded our commitment to safety beyond the health-care realm by developing an academic organizational structure that ensures transparency and responsiveness, and by engaging and empowering the voices of patients, families, staff members, providers and students. Yet so much remains to be done.

Our university will need to respond to the findings from state, federal and National Collegiate Athletic Association investigations with transparency and a clear commitment to making comprehensive changes to transform our culture. As the institution works its way through legal, legislative, personnel and other processes, we believe that three imperatives of culture change will become a catalyst for transformation across higher education.

First, even as we at MSU implement policy, procedural and structural changes to better detect a predator, we must avoid the temptation to put the Nassar crisis behind us. Rather, we need to keep what happened and the lessons we are learning from it in front of us. The injury inflicted on the vulnerable is a symptom of a deeper cultural problem within society related to power, voice and silence.

Keeping the crisis in front of us requires us to acknowledge that the very institutions created to transform individuals and communities through education can easily be derailed by self-interest, insecurity and competition. Academe is called to cultivate institutional habits of truth telling and truth hearing, critical self-reflection, and accountability. We must consciously and intentionally empower those habits on our campuses to meet that calling.

Second, if we are honest with ourselves in the trauma of the moment, many other unjust and inequitable campus structures and processes must be interrogated and redressed. This involves reconsidering our systems of evaluation and reward -- including institutional rankings, tenure and promotion processes, and metrics of scholarship. They all must be realigned with the core values of the academic mission.

Access, equity and discovery are often identified as core values in higher education. Yet the metrics by which academic institutions are often judged -- including raising funds and elevating rankings -- too easily foster a tolerance for behavior that falls short of what we know to be just. It is time to revisit our lodestone. Institutions of higher education should be judged by their capacity to educate conscientious human beings capable of putting their values into practice in meaningful ways. That requires the creation of learning communities that advance true inclusiveness and are equitable, trusting, transparent and safe. Such communities are inherently difficult to nurture, but they nonetheless must be created.

It is time to acknowledge that we have fallen short of our values, reaffirm them in light of our current situation and align our reward system accordingly. Only then can we fulfill the transformative role that higher education was established to create for the communities we serve. Change must begin with us.

Finally, in an academic culture that draws individuals committed to be catalysts of societal change, there is perhaps all too often a paradoxical acceptance of them as primarily free agents within the university -- neither crucial to the success of the broader institutional mission nor empowered to impact its fate. The culture we need requires each of us who has some power to effect change to put our effort, influence and weight on the side of creating more trust and equity. Such a transformation of the academy is only possible if we commit ourselves to holding one another accountable in our daily interactions to the values that shape our shared educational mission. Leadership in this sense must permeate the entire institution -- from the staff to the governing board, from students to the faculty, and across all levels of administration.

These three imperatives -- to keep the lessons of our current crisis in front of us, to interrogate and redress all unjust structures, and to create a culture of shared, empathetic leadership -- point to a paradigm shift in higher education. Only by creating communities in which everyone has the opportunity to be heard, to feel valued and ultimately to succeed, will we create a new culture of inclusion and empowerment.

Authors

Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., dean, College of Human Medicine, Rachel Croson, dean, College of Social Science, Prabu David, dean, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Ronald Hendrick, dean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Thomas D. Jeitschko, dean, The Graduate School, Mark Largent, associate dean for undergraduate education, Christopher P. Long, dean, College of Arts & Letters and Cheryl Sisk, interim dean, College of Natural Science

These tragic events do not and cannot define us

A message from Dean Beauchamp to the College of Human Medicine Community, January 2018: It

It is difficult to find words adequate to capture how saddened I am by the tragic events that occurred at our university. The survivor impact stories, so courageously shared, are beyond devastating. Horrific acts occurred to individuals who came to Michigan State University. They were vulnerable and in search of healing. We failed them.

We are disheartened. Ours is a profession defined by accountability and responsibility. Our core value is caring. Our students come to us knowing that they will graduate as physicians uniquely prepared to protect the dignity of those they serve and to heal those in greatest need. As individuals, we begin and end each day inspired to lessen the struggles of those in need.

These tragic events do not and cannot define us. As a community, we stand united in support of those who spoke out and for those whose stories remain untold. We have a responsibility to the victims to be propelled by their courage, strength and resolve. As caregivers, students, staff and faculty, we will hold each other accountable to a culture of responsibility.

We will be tireless in our commitment to safety for our patients, students, staff, faculty and our community partners. We will be resolute in guarding against future abuse. We will be vigilant in hearing the concerns of all those we serve. We will ensure a more just and responsive community. 

I want to assure all of you, that together, we will emerge stronger and more determined in our mission to heal and serve. We will be defined by continuing to graduate world class physicians, making discoveries that transform health care and improving lives in our communities and beyond. Our important work must continue…now more than ever.

Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS
Dean, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine