UMMS community celebrates service to honor MLKKeynote speaker Riley: Health care disparities still exist
By Kristen O'Reilly and Bryan GoodchildUMass Medical School Communications
A standing-room only crowd gathered to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 23, by celebrating and honoring service to the community, and by hearing about what challenges still exist in eliminating health care disparities in our society, an inequality that Dr. King called “the most shocking and inhumane.”
Chancellor Michael F. Collins said that honoring service to the community was a fitting way to celebrate the memory of Dr. King and his famous sentiment “Everybody can be great . . . because anyone can serve.”
“Dr. King’s words—and the meaning embedded within them—continue to resonate as poignantly today as when they were first uttered decades ago,” said Chancellor Collins. “If, as Dr. King says, greatness is measured by and synonymous with service, then I would argue that our academic health sciences center is approaching greatness.”
The audience viewed a video capturing just a few of the many ways members of the UMMS community give back to the community, including more than 47,000 hours of service to residents of Massachusetts, including 27,000 hours in Worcester alone.
Wayne J. Riley, MD, president & CEO of Meharry Medical College in Nashville and keynote speaker, envisioned what King would have said about the poor progress that has been made in eliminating health care disparities in this country. He said King would have been “concerned,” “chagrined,” and “would have just hammered us,” given the latest statistics from the National Health Care Disparities Report that shows that much work still needs to be done.
“Keep doing what you are doing–by having this simple program today, and making sure that everyone is aware of the challenges ahead, we are meeting the challenge that Dr. King laid out for us,” said Dr. Riley. (Watch extended coverage of the event here.)
Also during the event, Chancellor Collins presented two awards to people who exemplify the Medical School’s commitment to diversity and civility.
In addition to his leadership and management of a group serving the needs of more than 3,000 faculty, “you consistently conduct yourself with the highest degree of integrity, courtesy and respect for all members of the UMass Worcester community. As a result, you have outstanding professional relationships with colleagues, direct reports, senior leadership and external customers,” said Collins.
Students were also honored at the event, including the winners of the MLK Semester of Service Students Awards, a community service initiative designed to support student-driven community-responsive service and service-learning projects in the communities that surround the Worcester campus. Read about the four projects chosen to receive $500 grants: MLK Semester of Service Student Awards support local health projects.
The celebration ended with the Burncoat High School Choir leading the audience in the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
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