Racist pics: EVMS will look into past yearbooks, its present culture, and the probe will be transparent

EVMS President Richard Homan spoke at a news conference concerning the recent inappropriate photos found in EVMS yearbooks. (Melanie Occhiuzzo/Southside Daily)
EVMS President Richard Homan spoke at a news conference concerning the recent inappropriate photos found in EVMS yearbooks. (Melanie Occhiuzzo/Southside Daily)

NORFOLK — Eastern Virginia Medical School’s investigation into inappropriate and racist photos found in previous yearbooks will be transparent.

That assurance was made the EVMS President Richard Homan during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. The probe also will look into how those photos were published and if any actions are needed to be taken.

Homan wants an external advisory board to investigate both past and present instances of inappropriate and racially-insensitive behavior both on the campus and in the university’s programs.

The vice president of diversity and inclusion, Mekbib Gemeda, made remarks about the strides EVMS has taken over the years to be an inclusive university to all who study there.

Homan said while he has not had direct contact with Gov. Ralph Northam’s office since the photos surfaced, the governor’s staff did stop by the university to look through the yearbooks.

Homan said there was a pattern of inappropriate photos in past EVMS yearbooks and after several photos were presented to him by Gemeda in early 2014, he made the decision to halt yearbook operations permanently.

There has not been a yearbook since the 2013 edition, Homan said.

The advisory board will also determine how the photos in Northam’s 1984 page were published and if any other actions needed to be taken.

In a statement Feb. 2, Homan called the picture published as “shockingly abhorrent and absolutely antithetical to the principles, morals and values we hold and espouse of our educational and research institution and our professions.”

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