April 5, 2013
Controversial social issues are debated in the media on a regular basis, and yet it is rare that leaders of an academic medical center will join that type of public debate. However, we recognize that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion. Dr. Carson’s comments are inconsistent with the culture of our institution.
Johns Hopkins Medicine embraces diversity and believes that the same civil rights should be available to all regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. For example, the Johns Hopkins University has provided benefits for same-sex domestic partners since 1999 and has long maintained a policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Dr. Carson is well known for his accomplishments as a neurosurgeon and for his contributions to the Baltimore community. While his recent comments are inconsistent with our core values, Dr. Carson has the right to participate in public debates and media interviews and express his personal opinions on political, social and religious issues. We strongly value freedom of expression and affirm Dr. Carson’s right, as a private citizen, to state his personal views.
We have been carefully listening to the varied opinions expressed by members of our community in response to Dr. Carson’s comments. It is clear that the fundamental principle of freedom of expression has been placed in conflict with our core values of diversity, inclusion and respect. We are trying to thoughtfully work through these issues, and as part of that process, we will be meeting with graduating students on Monday.
Those who work and study here, and the patients we serve, create a rich tapestry of people from all races, religions and backgrounds. Commitment to diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression is at the heart of our standing as a world leader in medical care, research and education.
Paul B. Rothman, M.D.
Dean of the Medical Faculty
CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine