President and Dean's Statement on Passing of President George H. W. Bush

DECEMBER 1, 2018

Morehouse School of Medicine joins the nation in mourning the death of George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States of America. A beloved friend to Morehouse of School of Medicine, he was a champion for the elimination of health disparities and an advocate for the advancement of underrepresented minorities and communities.

While serving as the 43rd Vice President of the United States of America, George H. W. Bush worked to understand the issues plaguing African Americans. During this time, his wife, Barbara Bush, served as a board of trustee of Morehouse School of Medicine. Through her, he became fascinated with the work underway at Morehouse School of Medicine in advancing opportunities for underserved communities and ultimately the elimination of health disparities.

Recognizing that health disparities had economic and national security implications, after becoming the 41st President, he selected Louis W. Sullivan, MD, founding dean and the first president of Morehouse School of Medicine, to the role of Secretary of Health and Human Services. Prioritizing health disparities research, President George H. W. Bush established the Office for Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institute of Health, which has grown into the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. This was a critical step towards recognizing the role health disparities play in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.

Then in 1990, his administration passed the Disadvantaged Minority Health Improvement Act followed by the publication of Healthy People 2020. Both served as the first real legislation and investment from an administration that addressed in statute disparities in health status and health care among vulnerable populations. These two bold statements would become monumental feats in the elimination of health disparities and the groundwork for the impetus towards health equity.

Remaining committed to the important mission of Morehouse School of Medicine, President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush established the George H. W. and Barbara P. Bush Endowed Professorship at Morehouse School of Medicine, which bolstered neuroscience research at the institution. Dr. Peter MacLeish was the first incumbent of the professorship and expressed, “I am saddened by the passing of President George H. W. Bush. Together with his late wife, Barbara P. Bush, they have provided long-term support to the development of Morehouse School of Medicine and will be missed.”

Because of President George H. W. Bush’s commitment to equal opportunities for all Americans, including opportunities in health care and health outcomes, Morehouse School of Medicine is better positioned to realize its vision to lead the creation and advancement of health equity both nationally and across the globe.

We thank President George H. W. Bush for his many contributions to building a stronger and healthier nation; and, our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the family and many loved ones of the Bush family.  

Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D.
President and Dean
Morehouse School of Medicine