Pitt Public Health hosts symposium on mixed legacy of founding dean Thomas Parran


In late March the school hosted a symposium examining Parran's mixed legacy from multiple perspectives. The panel discussion sought to compliment to the official review committee which is considering whether the name "Parran Hall" is consistent with the University's mission.  See also: 


As U.S. Surgeon General from 1936-1948, Thomas Parran was one of the most important and effective progressive voices in public health in the first half of the 20th century yet his legacy is marred by unethical venereal disease studies that were conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service under his leadership. 

Dean Donald Burke recently asked Pitt's Office of Diversity and Inclusion to review whether the name Parran Hall is consistent with the University's mission to create a diverse and inclusive environment. As the ensuing committee reviews the building name, Pitt Public Health hosted a symposium that aimed to examine—from multiple perspectives—Parran's mixed legacy. Expert panelists included: 

  • Dr. Thomas Parran:  An Overview of His Career 
    Gregory J. Dober, Adjunct Professor, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) Erie, PA
  • Escaping Melodrama: What do we do about the "bad" men in the studies in Tuskegee and Guatemala? 
    Susan Reverby, Marion Butler McLean Professor Emerita in the History of Ideas, Wellesley College; fellow, Crime and Punishment Workshop, Charles Warren Center, Harvard University, 2017-18 
  • Lessons from the History of the US Public Health Service Research Studies in Tuskegee and Guatemala 
    Bill Jenkins, professor of public health sciences and associate director of the Research Center on Health Disparities Morehouse College
  • The Roles of Monuments and Naming in Collective Memory and Identity 
    Kirk Savage, William S. Dietrich II Chair and professor of History of Art and Architecture University of Pittsburgh
  • Symposium recording

    Event program (PDF)


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