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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Initiative to Reduce Health Disparities Launch

President's Room
HEaly Hall
April 16, 2012

Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today.  It’s a pleasure to welcome all of you to the launch of the Georgetown University Initiative to Reduce Health Disparities.

Your presence here and your support of this growing initiative reflect a commitment to the principles that define our University, and an appreciation of the vital relationship between excellence in scholarship and the promotion of justice. We’re grateful for your willingness to engage this cross-campus effort.

Our gathering today celebrates the preparation, progress, and potential of the Health Disparities Initiative, led by co-chairs Lucile Adams-Campbell, Associate Director of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Phyllis Magrab, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Child and Human Development at the Medical Center.

We’re also here to acknowledge the energy and expertise of our faculty, students, and administrators, exemplified by the 60 proposals submitted in the Call for Proposals—and the three outstanding projects chosen, which represent significant interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships with local, national, and global health leaders.

This area of work—to reduce health disparities—and this initiative will continue to grow at Georgetown.  We hope our event today will be a time for you to get to know each other and experience, in a small way, the range of activities and possibilities for collaboration that are encompassed by this interdisciplinary initiative.

I’d like to offer my gratitude to Lucile and Phyllis—both of whom are extraordinary leaders in addressing health outcomes for underserved communities. They have endowed this initiative with a sense of enthusiasm and a deep commitment to addressing health disparities through research, teaching, and advocacy.

I’d also like to extend my thanks to our Steering Committee who helped to select the pilot programs: Dean Martin Iguchi, Larry Gostin, Dean Carol Lancaster, Father Joseph Lingan, Dean Edward Montgomery, and Provost Jim O’Donnell.

Their collective leadership will allow us to continue ensuring that this initiative reaches across our campuses and creates new opportunities for our community to come together to pursue effective responses to health disparities challenges.  I’d also like to offer my gratitude to Howard Federoff for his ongoing support.

Let me talk a moment about the genesis of this work—because it reflects not only the significant leadership of the planning team, but also the role that our community— and especially each of you here today—can play in defining how universities, and Georgetown – in particular, can respond to challenges like health disparities.

During the GUMC Strategic Planning Process, which engaged faculty from across our campuses, committee members identified the potential to strengthen our work around health inequities.

This initiative provides us with the opportunity to pursue these efforts at a new level—with new resources and a deeper recognition of the interdisciplinary possibilities spanning research, practice, and policy.

Our community, because of our mission, our values, and our identity, is grounded in the commitment that what we learn, teach, and research is intimately connected to the world that we experience…and to the local and global context in which we pursue our work.

We are guided by a set of organizing principles that holds at its core the Latin phrase, which is written across the wall of Gaston Hall: ad majorem dei gloriam inque hominum salutem. This first part of this phrase, the motto of the Jesuits, translates “for the greater glory of God.” The second half of the phrase is distinctive to Georgetown, and it roughly translates to “for the betterment of humankind.”  We are always striving to enact and imagine how we can best serve this mission and integrate this value into the life of our community.

The Initiative to Reduce Health Disparities models this effort – driven by the interest and expertise of our community, and animated by the principles of service and social justice.

I wish to again offer my gratitude to all of you for being here today and especially to Phyllis and Lucile for the extraordinary leadership that they have demonstrated in the launching of this Initiative. And it’s now my great pleasure to welcome to the podium, our co-chairs, Phyllis and Lucile.

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