Harvard Researcher Who Studies Racial Health Disparities to Speak at College of Medicine Commencement

May 11, 2023 | 150Celebration, Events, News, UToday, Advancement, Alumni, Medicine and Life Sciences
By Tyrel Linkhorn

Dr. David R. Williams, an internationally recognized social scientist whose research has illustrated the negative effects that racial discrimination has on health, will deliver the commencement address at The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences graduation ceremony on Friday, May 19.

The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.

Headshot of David R. Williams


More than 200 students will receive doctor of medicine, doctor of philosophy or master’s degrees as part of this year’s graduating class.

Williams is currently on the faculty at Harvard University, where he serves as a professor of public health, professor of African and African American studies, and professor of sociology. He’s also chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

The author of more than 500 scientific papers, Williams is one of the nation’s leading voices on the complex ways in which race, socioeconomic status, stress and racial discrimination can adversely affect health.

He served on the National Academy of Medicine committee that prepared “Unequal Treatment” — a landmark 2002 report that found racial minorities received lower quality healthcare than did whites — and was a member of the social science panel on race, racism and race relations for President Bill Clinton’s Initiative on Race.

Williams also developed the “Everyday Discrimination Scale,” which has been widely used to assess subjective experiences of discrimination.

Before joining the faculty at Harvard, Williams spent 14 years at the University of Michigan and six years at Yale.

Williams was selected by a committee of medical students and faculty from a national pool in recognition of his accomplishments. In addition to delivering the keynote address, Williams will be awarded an honorary doctor of science degree.

The College of Medicine and Life Sciences will livestream the commencement ceremony on its website.

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