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Gilbert Bland
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Gilbert Bland

Hampton Roads Community News

EVMS Town Hall Meetings To Allow Community Input


Two town hall meetings open to the public have been scheduled for June 18 by the community advisory board reviewing the diversity, equity and inclusion practices and culture at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS).

The Community Advisory Board (CAB) was created by officials at EVMS following the disclosure in February of a controversial picture in Blackface that appeared on the 1984 yearbook page of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

EVMS President Richard Homan, M.D., announced the appointment of two panels then – one external and one internal – to investigate the origins and source of the unidentified photo.

He said the Board of Visitors had hired Richard Cullen, a former Virginia attorney general and past U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to lead the external review.

Also a community-based advisory board, chaired by Gilbert Bland, president and CEO of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, was appointed at the time to consist of nine local residents.

The university ended its yearbook probe recently when the examination of the photo did not conclude the individual in the photo was indeed an image of the Governor.

Now, at the recommendation of the community-based board (CAB) headed by Bland, EVMS is reviewing its the diversity, equity and inclusion practices and culture at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

The CAB has hired SIR, a Richmond-based research and consulting firm, to perform the internal assessment via one-on-one student, faculty and staff interviews., as well as focus groups comprised of students from both under-represented populations and the general population.

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SIR will also conduct a survey of all students, faculty and staff, and will widely distribute an online community survey to the public.

The town hall meetings are designed to provide an external assessment and allow attendees to provide feedback about EVMS, submit questions to the CAB and complete online surveys.

Both town hall meetings will be held on June 18, 2019. The town hall meetings will be held as follows: 10 – 11:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 820 Colonial Avenue, Norfolk 23507; and 6 – 7:30 p.m. at The Kroc Center, 1401 Ballentine Blvd. Norfolk 23504.

CAB member Ed Ayers, Ph.D., who is the former president of the University of Richmond, will facilitate the meetings.

The CAB will combine its findings from the town hall meetings and other community listening sessions with SIR’s research studies to craft a final report with recommendations to submit to Homan and EVMS leadership.

The town hall meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, contact CAB chair Gilbert T. Bland at

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