A Message from Dean Wilkes – In the Wake of Weekend Events

August 15, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

For those of you who could attend on short notice, thank you for gathering at yesterday’s town hall in the aftermath of this past weekend’s acts of terrorism in our community. We were shocked by the violence from the Nazis and white supremacists who invaded our city, and we reject their hate-filled philosophy. It is antithetical to everything the University of Virginia and the School of Medicine represent. Unequivocally, haters are not welcome here.

I am proud of our faculty, staff, residents, and students who responded with a focus on doing the right thing – attending to the wounded. Your planning, teamwork, and skills were tested, and you performed at the highest possible level. Thank you.

I heard clearly your concerns about safety and the need for enhanced communication about fast-moving events. I heard that you want to know what specific actions you can take in the face of hatred. I heard that you need to hear strong language condemning the ugly events we witnessed this weekend. As leaders of the Health System, we are working across Grounds to respond to your concerns.

In the immediate term, if you are a student and in a situation you don’t know how to handle, go to your college dean or directly to CAPS, or call upon your supervisor to intervene. Faculty members can call upon the Be Wise team (Peggy Plews-Ogan, Michael D. Williams, John Schorling), ethicist Mary Faith Marshall, members of the Chaplain’s Office. Students and faculty alike can call me. We are all ready to help you.

We are not going to let these people define or divide us. Instead, we redouble our efforts and reconnect to our purpose. This is a place of healing, learning, and discovery. We will continue to do what we do well and to focus on improving how we treat, cure, and prevent illness. And we will continue to do so in an environment of inclusiveness, where differences strengthen us and every individual is deserving of respect.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with the people who were injured or died, and the families and friends who loved them. We all mourn this tragedy. We will get through the difficulty, turmoil, and sadness that was visited on us this weekend. We will persevere, come together, learn, and do our work with focus and renewed determination. That’s what we do.

I know we will continue these conversations. I thank you for your strength, courage, and commitment to caring for others and each other.

Sincerely,

David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science

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