Meharry, HHS sign MOU toward ‘recruitment and outreach’

MOU Signing

Meharry Medical College and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formalized a memorandum of understanding Thursday, May 30, 2024, to support their respective missions and to coordinate and implement recruitment of Meharry students toward “employment and educational opportunities in HHS,” part of an effort to build diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce.

Cheryl R. Campbell, assistant secretary for administration for HHS, told the gathering of Meharrians and community members at the Riley Auditorium of The Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education that the MOU will help Meharry and HHS create opportunities for Meharry students to consider joining a team to affect health policy. “The MOU is a testimony that we can achieve more together than we can in isolation,” she said. “You have to have a seat at the table to affect those policies.”

Health equity isn’t health equality, Meharry President Dr. James E.K. Hildreth pointed out—“Some people need more, and some need less.” But the country spends at least $4.5 trillion a year on health care, he said, and “most of the people that make the policy decisions do not look like us.” This agreement helps to give Meharrians an opportunity to fill that need.

According to the MOU, the collaboration aims to “increase awareness…of career developmental programs, internship programs and employment opportunities,” and will also “provide information on opportunities for training, mentoring and shadowing experiences,” all in an effort to help build a “high-performing workforce that reflects all segments of society.”

Dr. Jeannette South Paul, Meharry executive vice president and provost, told the gathering: “This memorandum of understanding with Health and Human Services will give our students and other Meharrians an opportunity to work with government and provide new avenues for the health equity future, whether it’s working with HHS staff to broaden opportunities…with public health in mind, or actually become a member of the HHS team to further their mission…and in-so-doing, take the Meharry mission into the community or even nationally.”

Dr. Hildreth said the agreement would also create “broader means for potential informative and educational conduits—conferences, panel discussions and speaking opportunities—an exchange of ideas on public health, health workforce, well-being and other important issues of the day,” and open the door for new mentor relationships for Meharry students.

Campbell told the audience that occasions like this allow her to focus on something that she enjoys—building bridges to federal careers. “If I have the opportunity to go around the country and waive the flag as a civil servant, I am proud to do so,” she said.

Antrell Tyson, HHS regional director over eight Southeastern states, said there’s an irony in this part of the country. “We have the most HBCUs in our region…but we also have the largest disparities in our region,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do. What better place to fulfill that pipeline than at Meharry Medical College.”