Dean's Update

June 18, 2021 - Aron Sousa, MD


This weekend is Juneteenth, the closest thing the country has had to a holiday celebrating the end of slavery. It’s hard to understand how it took so long to establish this as a holiday, but the lack of a widespread celebration is another piece of the subtle, or not too subtle, racism in society – the racism of not really thinking about how important the end of slavery is to our country. And, as of yesterday, the end of slavery is now a national holiday. For those in East Lansing, MSU has a celebration of Juneteenth on Saturday at 2PM on Munn Field.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned they had been freed more than two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation. By the time the slaves of Galveston found out about their freedom, the Civil War was over and Lincoln was dead. (I suggest you read this history by MSU expert Nakia Parker.) 

June is also Pride Month timed around the anniversary of the June 28, 1969, Stonewall Riots. Pride month has long been about activism in support of LGBTQAI+ rights, safety, and opportunity. I suggest you check out this month’s Diversity Grand Rounds, featuring our own Joel Maurer, MD. And learn about some of the Controversies and Complexities in LGBTQ Health Care from members of the MSU diaspora who presented in a Center for Bioethics and Social Justice webinar this winter. But wait, there is more. Our students have the chance to take an elective, LGBTQIA+ Health Care, and you can go through the syllabus. (Some content is available only with access to the MSU Library.) AND we have new Pride Month Zoom backgrounds to download here.

Late this week, Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health announced a letter of intent to merge. We have been in good communication with our partners at Spectrum Health and our colleagues at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. Each of those conversations have reinforced the need to maintain quality clinical education experiences for the students of each college. It is worth recounting that we have had more than 1,400 students graduate as a result of expansion in Grand Rapids, and I want to emphasize how much our students appreciate the great work of MSU faculty at Spectrum Health. The work of the college results in $339 million in economic activity in Grand Rapids each year. 

Cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 are down, but the delta variant is now listed as a variant of concern in the US by the CDC. Delta has taken over in the UK, which was previously dominated by the alpha variant. That same alpha variant is now the most common source of cases in Michigan and the US. Although our current vaccines work well against delta, it appears that delta causes an increase in hospitalizations over alpha among the unvaccinated in the UK. Which is to say, be sure that you and yours are vaccinated.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean

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