A Message from the Interim President

A Message from the Interim President

  For Immediate Release        
September 11, 2009



As Interim President of Charles Drew University, I am very excited about leading a revitalized administrative-faculty team charged with moving this institution to greater heights. Foremost on my agenda is the task of reconnecting the University to our community—and reconnecting the community to our University. This, after all, is a core mission of our institution that should never be compromised.
Since taking office in June, I have been inspired by the commitment—and considerable sacrifice—that each member of the University family has been willing to make to ensure the viability of this University and its mission. These are challenging times. And unfortunately, despite many recent sacrifices, there are more difficult days ahead.

As a result, I have decided to postpone next month’s 19th Annual Jazz At Drew. This decision was not made lightly and it comes with a heavy heart. I recognize that Jazz At Drew, an annual festival with historic significance stretching well beyond the Watts-Willowbrook community, is one of the University’s signature events, benefiting our students, our pipeline programs and the community we serve.

But in a difficult economic climate, sometimes you have to make tough calls and this is one of them. Many of our employees, faculty and staff are facing financial challenges and hardships in the wake of enormous sacrifices that were made to help sustain this institution. Jazz At Drew is not alone. The current economic climate is responsible for the postponements and cancellations of music festivals worldwide. One only has to follow the ongoing story of the JVC festivals to see clearly the risk that the Jazz At Drew Production Committee faced in today’s market. (http://blog.taragana.com/n/curtain-falls-on-jvc-jazz-festival-new-york-city-may-be-without-major-jazz-festival-41336/ and http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/ae/articles/2009/08/23/20090823sedonajazz0823.html),

Despite this setback, Charles Drew University is not giving up. The University is  poised to immediately move forward with plans for next year’s 20th Anniversary. The additional time will allow us to realign our event priorities with the University’s mission and re-establish the original vision for Jazz At Drew as a CDU Alumni Association homecoming event. By so doing, we will simultaneously highlight the local, national and international prominence of the Watts-Willowbrook community, one of the original intentions of Jazz At Drew. 

To that end, a debt of gratitude is owed to the members of the Jazz At Drew Production Committee, our community supporters, supporters of the Lillian H. Mobley/Los Angeles County Second District Health Pavilion, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, City of Los Angeles Housing Authority and University faculty and staff who have gone beyond the call of duty to support this important event. I would also like to thank the Artists (past and present) who have generously given of their time and talent. These and many more have helped to make Jazz At Drew an 18-year legacy.
I look forward to your continued support as the University, with the help of its extended family,  corporate partners and community stakeholders, transforms the next Jazz At Drew into a celebration of an institution that lifted itself out of our troubled economic times in a profound act of self-determination.

Thank you.

Keith C. Norris, MD, FACP
Interim President




For more information, please contact:
John L. Mitchell
Media Advisor at
Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science
Telephone: (323) 563-4981 or cell (323) 681-4225



1731 East 120th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90059
p 323 563 4987  f 323 563 5987  www.cdrewu.edu

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