A Message to the USC School of Pharmacy Community

June 2, 2020

Dear USC School of Pharmacy Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni,

We write with sadness and solidarity for the grief and anger so many of us are feeling in response to the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others.

The demonstrations across the country reflect decades of frustration and a pent-up anger against the multiple, structural injustices against African Americans, including in the criminal justice system, housing, educational system, and health disparities. We stand in support of the African American community, and all those on the front lines of protests nationwide. Black lives matter.

At the same time, we recognize the suffering of our community as a whole, and the rebuilding that will need to be done by local businesses, including pharmacies owned by USC alumni. We recognize that for many of us, recent events feel painfully familiar to our experiences in 1992. Our school is here to support you in any way we can.

Over the past few months, our world has been profoundly disrupted by COVID-19. And many of those hit the hardest are black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), particularly African Americans – the very same people in communities already burdened by a history of prejudice, poverty, and especially racism. In Los Angeles County alone, the death rate for black residents of COVID-19 is double that of white residents. For the LatinX community, the death rate is 70% higher than for the white community.

As a school whose mission is to advance health through excellence in pharmacy education, research and practice, we must focus especially on these health disparities and the role we play in addressing them. How can we as students, educators, health professionals, clinicians, and scientists lead the way for lasting and meaningful change?

We are located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in the world, and we strive to recruit, admit and support underrepresented and minoritized students and create a strong culture of inclusion. We are committed to increasing access, opportunity and inclusivity through financial aid and scholarships, strategic recruitment, programming and community building. It is our powerful belief that our commitment to diversity of thought, experience and people makes us stronger. As we move forward, we, as a school, recommit ourselves to this longstanding principle, and commit our every resource to making it so.

As members of this community, we know we must all drive the change we seek. All of us, collectively and individually, have the opportunity to harness our grief and anger into new ideas, and new paths to transformational change.

We are here with you.

In solidarity,

Vassilios Papadopoulos
Dean, USC School of Pharmacy

Melissa Durham
Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, USC School of Pharmacy