UC President Napolitano Talks About Moral Leadership During School of Medicine Retreat

Janet Napolitano speaks during the UCSF School of Medicine's annual retreat
UC President Janet Napolitano speaks during the UCSF School of Medicine annual retreat on Jan 11. Photo by Noah Berger

UC President Janet Napolitano kicked off the annual School of Medicine Leadership retreat in a conversation with Dean Talmadge E. King Jr., MD, dean of the School of Medicine. King asked Napolitano a number of probing questions exploring the role of the school as a moral leader and advocate in our current times.

In response to King’s prompt regarding the current political climate working against the generation of new knowledge, facts and scientific data, she agreed that “We are living distressingly in an era where facts are underappreciated, where false equivalencies are put out there.”

During the talk, held on Jan. 11, she implored leadership to stand up for researchers to ensure that their voices are heard, criticisms are addressed and academic freedom is embraced – and that it was imperative to educate the public about what real science is. “We have to continue to put forward the fight that real science means something,” she said.

Napolitano elaborated upon how institutional leaders go about addressing systemic problems such as sexual harassment, discrimination and inequalites through setting specific intentions and requiring accountability for changes.

“We marry the knowledge and the expertise that comes out of the university with the public issues of today,” she said, noting three examples of current UC-wide challenges as the 4,000 undocumented UC students, how to minimize the UC system’s carbon footprint and sexual harassment issues. “We should not only not be shy, but should be speaking up and speaking out and uniting what we are talking about with what actions we are taking.”

The kick-off event set the stage for the School of Medicine leadership retreat the following day focused on honing down the goals for a new strategic plan. Detailed coverage of the retreat will be published on the School of Medicine website.

For more campus news and resources, visit Pulse of UCSF.