Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A rare example of statesmanship--and courage--by an academic administrator

I am reproducing here a Statement by Marschall S. Runge, MD, PhD, Dean of the Medical School of the University of Michigan, demonstrating the proper response by a leader of a public or non-sectarian private institution of higher learning to efforts to dis-invite or de-platform speakers or impose ideological litmus tests. The speaker in question here was Professor Kristin Collier, MD, who came under attack by campus ideologues because she believes in the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions. Dean Runge refused to capitulate to the mob.


Dear Medical School faculty, students and fellows,
The Medical School White Coat Ceremony is a special day for our medical students and their families as they are welcomed into the medical profession. The ceremony is a meaningful tradition that celebrates U-M medical students as they prepare to become leaders in medicine.
Kristin Collier, M.D., was chosen as the keynote speaker for the 2022 White Coat Ceremony based on nominations and voting by members of the U-M Medical School Gold Humanism Honor Society, which is comprised of medical students, house officers, and faculty. The Society chapter, which was formed at U-M Medical School in 2016, represents exemplars of humanistic patient care and who serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine.
We have received both positive and negative feedback on the choice of our keynote speaker. The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues, and Dr. Collier never planned to address a divisive topic as part of her remarks.  Our values speak about honoring the critical importance of diversity of personal thought and ideas, which is foundational to academic freedom and excellence. We would not revoke a speaker because they have different personal ideas than others.
At this year’s White Coat ceremony, we will be honoring 168 outstanding scholars and formally welcoming them as the University of Michigan's newest class of medical students. This is an important day for them and their families, and we hope that all will honor this day dedicated to them and their families.
A forum on the importance of diversity of thought is being planned by Michigan Medicine, and additional details will be shared soon.
Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, University of Michigan Medical School
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs
CEO, Michigan Medicine



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