Virginia med school won't investigate governor's alleged racist photo

The advisory board created by Norfolk-based Eastern Virginia Medical School in response to a controversy involving racist depictions in its yearbooks said it will not investigate a 1984 yearbook photo involving Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, MD, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

Six things to know:

1. The medical school said last month it would create an advisory panel to investigate the school's history of yearbooks and the photo that allegedly shows Dr. Northam dressed in blackface.

2. However, the head of the panel said the advisory board will instead focus on assessing the medical school's current culture and provide recommendations.

"We are not there to issue a report on the governor," said Gilbert Bland, the businessman chosen by EVMS officials to head the panel.

3. Richard V. Homan, MD, president, provost and dean of the medical school, told The Virginian-Pilot March 3 he was comfortable with the board's decision to narrow its scope, stating an "environmental scan" would be helpful in allowing the school to "look ahead and focus on the future."

4. Dr. Northam came under fire last month after a news outlet published a photograph of a 1984 EVMS yearbook that allegedly depicted him in blackface. Though he initially apologized for having appeared in the photograph, he later denied being in it and has since resisted calls for his resignation.

5. An analysis by The Virginian-Pilot found many of the advisory board members appear to hold ties to Dr. Northam, either by serving as administration appointees on other boards and committees or by directly contributing to his political campaigns.

6. Mr. Bland said he does not believe the board's appointments or donations will conflict with its work.

"It's no different than anyone being appointed to a public board. Once the appointment is made, you're there to represent the public," he said.

To access the full report, click here.

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