Commentary: Linking Health Equity With Economic Development: Insights From My Year as Chairman of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce

Clancy, Gerard P. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318272113f

Many urban areas struggle with significant health disparities. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, there is a 14-year difference in life expectancy between the predominantly African American population in north Tulsa and the predominantly Caucasian population in south Tulsa. The roots of Tulsa’s health disparities can be linked, in part, to a long history of racial mistrust stemming from the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, arguably one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. In 2011, the author served as both a university campus president and chairman of the board of the Tulsa region’s chamber of commerce. Through his work with the chamber, he discovered the business community’s substantial resources and advocacy abilities. He also found that regional business leaders strongly supported health equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, both as moral obligations and regional economic development imperatives. After sharing the lessons he learned from working closely with business leaders, the author encourages other academic health centers (AHCs) to reach out to their business communities, which are likely willing and able to help them undertake similar initiatives. In doing so, AHCs and businesses can work together to improve the economic vitality of their regions.

Author Information

Dr. Clancy is professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, and president, University of Oklahoma–Tulsa campus, Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is also immediate past president, Tulsa Metro Chamber.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Clancy, 4502 E. 41st St., Tulsa, OK 74135; e-mail:

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges