University of Miami Reverses Course on Values By Rewarding Former HHS Secretary Azar With Teaching Gig
University of Miami Dean John Quelch: “Adding a second former health secretary to our faculty and especially someone with Alex’s vast expertise in other areas of the industry offers a tremendous opportunity to our students to learn from top leaders in the health care field—and that experience is invaluable. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Alex to the University of Miami”
Azar was central to the Trump administration’s failure to respond to COVID-19 and reportedly retaliated against a whistleblower
Azar also played a key role in executing Trump’s cruel policies, including family separations at the border and axing LGBTQ non-discrimination protections
Washington, D.C. — The University of Miami Herbert Business School announced that they welcomed former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to its teaching and policy research staff — contradicting the university’s stated core values of “diversity, integrity, responsibility, excellence, compassion, creativity, and teamwork” by hiring someone who played a critical role in failing to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and oversaw key aspects of the Trump administration’s deliberately cruel family separation policy. In response, the Campaign Against Corporate Complicity released the following statement:
“From the bungling of the COVID-19 pandemic response that resulted in 400,000 deaths under his leadership, to standing behind the former president as he enacted some of his most cruel and inhumane policies, the only thing Alex Azar can teach the students at the University of Miami is what not to do,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “You can’t claim to value diversity, integrity, responsibility, excellence, compassion, creativity, and teamwork, and then hire one of the twice-impeached former President’s worst enablers. The students at the University of Miami deserve better, and the school’s administration must clarify how Azar’s track record of failing this country aligns with its mission and values.”
“Students and other faculty would be right to question the university’s commitment to its stated values. Alex Azar’s track record of enabling family separation and the political mismanagement of the pandemic response should make him a cautionary tale rather than a role model for aspiring business leaders,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight.
Hiring Azar not only goes against the University of Miami’s declared values, but refutes its own advocacy work in the immigration space. The University of Miami Law’s Human Rights Clinic joined a coalition of immigration organizations in an amicus brief that sought to repeal a “draconian” state law that would “exacerbate [immigrant] survivors’ trauma, exposing them to inhumane conditions in detention centers and leading to family separation.” The university’s law school also hosted a lecture series titled “Defending Human Rights of Migrants,” including a lecture on the harms of forced family separation and juvenile detention conditions.
As one of the country’s top health officials, Azar played a central role in executing the Trump administration’s botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other failures, Azar parroted Trump’s misinformation about treating the virus with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine despite a lack of scientific evidence, refused to take responsibility for the administration’s early failures to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, and kept COVID-19 threat meetings classified.
Azar was also involved in and oversaw key aspects of the Trump administration’s deliberately cruel family separation policy. Records show that Azar was one of the senior Trump officials invited to White House meeting at which a vote was taken to enact the “zero tolerance” policy. Under that policy, migrant children separated at the U.S. border were transferred to facilities supervised by HHS, without an adequate system for tracking families who had been separated. In the months before it began, officials within HHS had raised alarms about the potential harm such a policy could cause. He also pushed through a rule in the final days of the Trump administration revoking LGBTQ protections in social services in what was described as a “nasty parting shot.”
Earlier this year, Accountable.US and American Oversight launched the Campaign Against Corporate Complicity, which seeks to prevent normalizing the cruel and undemocratic actions and rhetoric of the Trump administration by ensuring that employers scrutinize former officials looking to sell their government experience as a qualification rather than a disgrace.
Azar’s track record at HHS underscores why no reputable organization should want to be associated with him. Learn more below:
- Azar was invited to White House meeting that voted to enact family separation. [NBC News, 8/20/20]
- A National Institute of Health employee filed a complaint that Secretary Azar had retaliated against him for whistleblowing about the failures of the government’s coronavirus response. [Politico, 06/25/20]
- At the behest of the White House, the HHS under Azar took actions to keep COVID-19 threat meetings classified, which included restricted access to public health officials who needed information about the outbreak. [Reuters, 03/11/20]
- On their way out of office, Azar’s HHS pushed through a rule that permitted government-funded social-service providers to discriminate against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity on issues ranging from child adoption, foster parenting, aid to the homeless, elder care, and other public services. [NBC News, 1/12/21]
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