Place, Race, and Health: Addressing the Root Causes of Health Inequities, April 4 

Posted Mar 26, 2024

Twenty years after a groundbreaking report shocked policymakers and the medical establishment, people of color continue to experience significantly worse healthcare relative to the white population, and very few health disparities have narrowed. Patients of color are less likely to receive preventive or specialty care. When they do receive care, they are more likely to wait longer for treatment that is often inadequate. 

That’s the conclusion of Otterbein’s 2024 Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecturer, Brian D. Smedley, after reviewing the 2023 National Healthcare Disparities and Quality Report. 

April is Minority Health Month, and Otterbein is proud to welcome Smedley, a national health equity advocate and scholar, to campus to discuss “Place, Race, and Health: Addressing the Root Causes of Health Inequities” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, in Riley Auditorium at the Battelle Fine Arts Center, 170 W. Park. St., Westerville. The lecture is free and open to the public. Learn more and RSVP at

In 2003, the former Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) published Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, a landmark report that found widespread racial and ethnic inequities in the quality of health care, even after accounting for access-related factors such as health insurance coverage. 

According to Smedley, not much has changed today. That’s why he works as an equity scholar and senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, where he conducts research and policy analysis to address structural and institutional forms of racism that impact the health and well-being of people of color. Among the programs he leads at the Urban Institute is “Unequal Treatment at 20,” an effort to accelerate progress toward health care equity by identifying key policy levers and advancing a new research agenda focused on dismantling all forms of racism in health care training and clinical settings.  

Formerly, Smedley was chief of psychology in the public interest at the American Psychological Association (APA), where he was deeply involved in APA’s historic apology for psychology’s contributions to scientific racism and plans to correct this history and advance an anti-racist agenda in the discipline. He was co-founder and executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, a project that connects research, policy analysis, and communications with on-the-ground activism to advance health equity. 

Whether you are majoring in public health, nursing, a healthcare-related field, or just someone who cares about the people who live in your community, come to this lecture to learn more about the U.S. healthcare system. 

About the Series: The Vernon L. Pack ’50 Distinguished Lecture and Scholar-in-Residence program has been bringing high-profile scholars and speakers to Otterbein’s campus to discuss contemporary issues and topics for more than two decades. The Series was established in 2002 through a generous gift from alumnus Vernon L. Pack, a 1950 graduate of the University. A distinguished lecturer visits campus to address important current issues that will allow the Otterbein community to reflect on ethical, spiritual, and social issues. In alternate years, an esteemed scholar is invited to campus to reside for up to one academic year in order to provide an educational enrichment experience for Otterbein students. Learn more and RSVP at