Dr. David Vassar Taylor’s passion is helping others find success
Rob Karwath | September 28, 2017
Taylor accepted his first and now a second appointment to Northwestern’s Board of Trustees. He brings a career rich in experience leading colleges and universities.
Dr. David Vassar Taylor’s passion is helping others find success through higher education.
For 16 years, he served as Dean of the General College of the University of Minnesota, designed to assist high-potential students who have not initially met admission requirements so they can eventually complete degrees. It was a former student and benefactor of the General College, Dr. Al Hoff, who introduced Taylor to Alfred Traina, DC, former President of Northwestern Health Sciences University. Traina invited Taylor to join Northwestern’s Board of Trustees.
According to Taylor, Hoff came to the General College as a young man. He had a relatively modest background and didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He applied to the General College to bring his academic skills up to par. He later completed his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree at Northwestern and became very successful. But he never forgot his General College experience.
Taylor accepted his first and now a second appointment to Northwestern’s Board of Directors. He brings a career rich in experience leading colleges and universities. In addition to the U. of M., he has served as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs for Morehouse College in Atlanta and Dillard University in New Orleans. Additionally, he served on the Board of HealthEast Care Corp. in St. Paul for 12 years, eventually chairing the Quality of Care Committee.
Health-care education was a new experience for Taylor when he accepted his first Northwestern Board appointment. He now sees a diverse and multi-disciplinary approach to health care as essential for addressing the nation’s health needs, especially in under-served populations and communities of color.
“We have to think more holistically and prepare more people for broad careers in the health sciences,” Taylor says. “At Northwestern, we have to embrace our role as part of a broader movement. We need that kind of diverse perspective.”
He adds, “I’m always pushing the envelope for diversity.”
Many of the treatments taught at Northwestern have long demonstrated the ability to improve outcomes for individuals’ health as well as for overall public health. Now, Taylor says, the challenge is to bring them to more people in more communities.
“We’re trying to get everyone on the same page regarding human health,” he says. “That’s where the struggle is. How do we do it and do it in an effective way? And within different cultures, how do we promote it?”
He adds, “In communities of color, there has been a reticence to go to non-traditional providers to find care. People don’t understand what it is until they are exposed to it. At Northwestern, we’re in a position to train more people of color in these practices. That’s one way we can be more effective in communities that historically have been less willing to work with these treatments.”
Often, Taylor says, a willingness to try new health approaches comes down to conversations—people sharing their stories of successful outcomes.
“Part of getting people into the health-care system is creating a new narrative around what I call health-care lore,” he says. “These are the stories that people tell about their experiences, and especially their satisfaction with outcomes.”
He adds, “The more that people talk and encourage others, the more exposure people will have to these health-care paths. And, as I said, I think it’s important for us to push the envelope a bit on this.”