Harvard’s Former Dean of the Faculty Condemns Removing Portraits of White Doctors for ‘Diversity’
A Harvard University Medical School teaching hospital has removed portraits of white doctors in the name of “diversity” and their former Dean of the Faculty is speaking out against the decision.
Former Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey S. Flier wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe slamming the decision as a “mistaken approach” to promoting diversity in medicine.
Flier wrote of seeing the now bare walls, noting that “what I experienced was not diversity, but sterility.”
When I last lectured in @BrighamWomens Bornstein auditorium, walls were adorned with portraits of prior luminaries of medicine & surgery. Connecting to a glorious past. Now all gone. Hope everyone is happy. I’m not. (Neither were those I asked- afraid to say openly). Sad. pic.twitter.com/Bsz89r2SBB
— Jeffrey Flier (@jflier) April 12, 2019
“I concluded that, despite some valid concerns, removing all the portraits from this historic amphitheater — in this way — was a mistake. Celebrating diversity doesn’t require erasing or suppressing the memories of those who contributed greatly to the institution and the profession — people whose work continues to have impact today,” Flier wrote.
Flier argued that instead of hiding that medicine used to be less diverse, people should celebrate the fact that it is now, and perhaps commission new paintings to rotate in with the others. He noted that these aren’t Confederate generals or people who should cause offense, but people who excelled in science.
“Some wish to judge those who lived at a time when different values prevailed, but this is hardly straightforward. Unlike disputed portraits and statuary related to slavery and the Civil War, these men made contributions to medicine and research that stand up well to current scrutiny. Early in Brigham history, actions of single individuals wouldn’t have diversified the workforce — that required major shifts in societal values. More recent leaders played essential roles in promoting today’s more diverse community,” he wrote.