Friday, September 10, 2010  

An Open Letter:

  Today, an unprecedented collaboration of hospitals, health systems, universities and The California Endowment announced it will take major steps to rescue, restructure and reinvigorate Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU).
We want to tell you personally about this critically important development before you hear about it in the news.
Here are the main points of this developing CDU story:  
  • The California Endowment was asked – along with a group of prominent partnering institutions serving Greater Los Angeles – to provide assistance to CDU’s leadership to enable the university to navigate through serious and difficult fiscal circumstances that have threatened the existence of the valuable research and teaching institution.
  • The California Endowment, and its collaborating institutions – UCLA, USC, Catholic Healthcare West, Cedars-Sinai and Kaiser Permanente – have committed to develop new governance, reorganize the Board of Trustees, and develop a new management team at CDU.
  • The partnering institutions moved with a great sense of urgency to protect and preserve this historic institution. These are difficult economic times and the CDU collaboration was formed to prevent the loss of a significant health research and medical education resource in Los Angeles.
  • The CDU collaboration is hopeful and confident there is a ‘roadmap’ that can be drawn to help guide Charles R. Drew University through its imminent financial matters. We hope, through these efforts, CDU will be able open the university’s newly constructed nursing school complex very soon.
  • Lastly, but most importantly, CDU will continue its mission to serve the community and restore its standing as an outstanding medical university.

We hope you join us in supporting the steps being taken to protect and preserve our legacy of medical education, allied health training and urban medicine in South Los Angeles.
With hope,
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Dr. Robert K. Ross

An Open Letter.pdf



Unprecedented Health, Education and Philanthropy Collaboration Charts New Future for Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science


Los Angeles, CA – Six California-based institutions specializing in health, hospital, university and nonprofit health announced today the formation of a new and unprecedented collaboration effort to rescue, restructure, reinvigorate and guide Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) towards a new, resurgent and financially viable future.  With the support and cooperation of the Board of Trustees at CDU, leaders from The California Endowment, Catholic Healthcare West, Cedars-Sinai Medical, Kaiser Permanente, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Southern California (USC) have committed to develop new governance, reorganize the Board of Trustees, and develop a new management team at CDU.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas encouraged the development of this new institutional collaboration to forge a more stable and vibrant future for CDU in South Los Angeles.  “This is a timely and critical development for the health, productivity, and well-being of the residents of South Los Angeles,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.  “Charles R. Drew University is a health professions, research, and economic engine for the community, and I am thrilled that Los Angeles’ leading health, academic, and philanthropic institutions are committed to continuing CDU’s pivotal role in our community and establishing a dynamic future for the University.” Emeritus Assembly Speaker Karen Bass noted, “I commend this collaborative effort to save and strengthen an institution that is mission-critical to the health of South Los Angeles.”

Bart Williams, Esq., the immediate past-chair of the Board of Trustees stated,  “CDU’s Board of Trustees are pleased to have collaborated with the leaders of these civic-minded institutions to forge a new future for the University.  This effort will allow CDU to continue to train the next generation of health professionals who serve our community.”  Mr. Williams also stated, “Our outgoing Board members want to acknowledge the leadership role that Dr. Keith Norris has played as interim President and CEO during a difficult financial period at the University.”  Dr. Norris will resume his position of Vice President of Research at CDU to provide academic and research leadership in service to the community.

Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, speaking on behalf of the CDU Collaboration, said, “We have moved with a sense of urgency to protect and preserve a historic institution.  These are difficult economic times.  The CDU Collaboration was formed to prevent the loss of a significant health research and medical education resource in Los Angeles.”

“Over more than 30 years, the University of California and UCLA have had a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.  Our participation, designed to strengthen Drew, is emblematic of that affiliation,” Dr. A. Eugene Washington, UCLA Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences and Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine said.  “Our overarching goal is to help Drew fulfill its mission – which we at UCLA share – to ‘care with compassion’ for underserved populations,” Dr. Washington said.

Dr. C. L. Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California, commended Supervisor Ridley-Thomas for his determination and leadership in bringing together public and private institutions to help re-launch CDU.  “Charles R. Drew University is a community treasure, not just for the citizens of South Los Angeles, but for the nation.  Medical research, public health care, and the training of physicians is a high priority for USC and for our partners. We are pleased to serve CDU in this advisory capacity,” Dr. Nikias said.

“The role that Charles Drew University plays in advancing healthcare through professional education and research is very important, both as a resource for the community as well as a training center for the physicians and nurses of the future,” Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System said.  “Cedars-Sinai has a long history of working collaboratively with CDU’s faculty and students, and we are pleased to work alongside the other organizations in this effort to forge a stable and strong future for Drew,” Mr. Priselac said.

"Our mission is to ensure that quality health care is accessible to everyone," Marvin O'Quinn, executive vice president/chief operating officer for Catholic Healthcare West said. "A strong medical education program at Charles Drew University is a vital part of ensuring the future of health care in South Los Angeles and we're proud to be a part of making this happen," Mr. O’Quinn said.

Dr. M. Roy Wilson, Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Colorado Denver and a renowned ophthalmologist, researcher, and academic leader, was named Chair of the new CDU Board of Trustees.  Dr. Cornelius Hopper, Vice President of Health Affairs, Emeritus, University of California, was named Vice Chair. The Board of Trustees is the entity with fiduciary and operational responsibility for the University.
“Our partnership in the CDU Collaboration is part of our shared vision to build healthy communities,” Dr. Benjamin Chu, president of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, said.  “At this point in our nation’s history it is imperative that we train future generations of health care professionals dedicated to providing culturally responsive care to reduce health disparities,” Dr. Chu said.

The new CDU Board of Trustees is expected to include:

  • Chair – M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Colorado Denver
  • Vice Chair – Cornelius Hopper, M.D., Vice President for Health Affairs, Emeritus, University of California
  • Eric Bing, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Endowed Professor of Global Health and HIV, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
  • Diana M. Bontá, R.N., Dr.PH., Vice President, Public Affairs for Kaiser Permanente Southern California
  • Patrick T. Dowling, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Director Professor, UCLA and Chair, UCLA Dept. of Family Medicine
  • Andrew B. Leeka, M.B.A., M.P.H., President and COO, Good Samaritan Hospital
  • James Lott, M.B.A., Executive Vice President, Hospital Association of Southern California
  • Marvin O’Quinn, M.P.H., Executive Vice President and COO, Catholic Healthcare West
  • Thomas M. Priselac, M.P.H., President and CEO, Cedars-Sinai Health System
  • Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., Dean, Keck School of Medicine of USC
  • Eugene Washington, M.D., Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences and Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

In addition, a Board of Councilors, chaired by Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, was formed to advise the CDU Board of Trustees and is comprised of senior healthcare and education leaders dedicated to the improvement of health services in South Los Angeles.  The Board of Councilors includes:

  • Chair – Mark Ridley-Thomas, Ph.D., Supervisor, Los Angeles County
  • Gene Block, Ph.D., Chancellor, UCLA
  • Benjamin K. Chu, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.C.P., President, Kaiser Permanente Southern California
  • Lloyd Dean, Ed.D., President and CEO, Catholic Healthcare West
  • Mildred Garcia, Ed.D., President, California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • C. L. Max Nikias, Ph.D., President, USC
  • Thomas M. Priselac, M.P.H., President and CEO, Cedars-Sinai Health System
  • Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO, The California Endowment

About Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, minority-serving medical and health sciences institution.  Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals.  The only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S., CDU is recognized as a leader in translational and health inequities research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and HIV/AIDS.  Recently, the CDU/UCLA medical program was named the “best performer” in the University of California System with respect to producing outstanding underrepresented minority physicians by the Greenlining Institute.  For more information, visit

The California Endowment
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.  The Endowment makes grants to organizations and institutions that directly benefit the health and well-being of the people of California.  For more information on The California Endowment, visit

About UCLA
The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA is an internationally respected leader in research, medical education and patient care.  The school has more than 2,000 full-time faculty members, almost 1,300 residents, more than 750 medical students and roughly 400 Ph.D. candidates.  The Geffen School is ranked ninth in the country in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and third in the United States in research dollars from total sources.  For more information on The David Geffen School of Medicine, visit

About USC
The University of Southern California is a leading private research university in Los Angeles, home to the Keck School of Medicine of USC and two USC-owned and operated hospitals, the USC University Hospital and the USC Norris Cancer Hospital.  Both hospitals are staffed by the 500 faculty physicians known as the Doctors of USC, who also staff the public Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center — one of the country’s largest teaching hospitals — and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  The USC physicians offer advanced medicine and compassionate care to more than one million patients each year at the four partner hospitals and 15 affiliated hospitals in Southern California.

About Cedars-Sinai Medical
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is one of the largest nonprofit academic medical centers in the western United States. For 20 consecutive years, it has been named Los Angeles’ most preferred hospital for all health needs in an independent survey of Los Angeles residents.  Cedars-Sinai is internationally renowned for its diagnostic and treatment capabilities and its broad spectrum of programs and services, as well as breakthroughs in biomedical research and highly regarded medical education.  Its community service programs range from mobile medical units that provide free healthcare to underserved children, to hundreds of clinical and education programs in local schools, homeless shelters and community centers.  Additional information is available at

About Catholic Healthcare West
Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) is the fifth largest hospital system in the nation and the largest not-for-profit hospital provider in the West.  Founded in 1986, the CHW network of more than 10,000 physicians and approximately 55,000 employees serve a population spanning 22 million people at 40 hospitals across California, Arizona, and Nevada. CHW is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality, affordable healthcare services with special attention to the poor and underserved.  In 2009, CHW provided $1.2 billion in charity care, community benefits, and unreimbursed patient care. For more information, please visit our website at

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care.  We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.  We currently serve 3.3 million members in Southern California.  Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers.  Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management.  Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. More information about Kaiser Permanente can be found at

Future of CDU Press Release.pdf

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For more information, please contact:

Fred MacFarlane

 Kristina Schake