Kauline Cipriani, PhD, speaks at the Gillings School's Diversity Preview Day.

Kauline Cipriani, PhD, speaks at the Gillings School’s Diversity Preview Day.

I am truly excited to join the Gillings School of Global Public Health as the inaugural assistant dean for inclusive excellence, and associate professor of public health leadership. Inclusive Excellence, as defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), is about integrating principles of diversity, equity and educational quality into the day-to-day operations of our School. Pursuing and achieving inclusive excellence is necessary to increase access, success, cultural competence and cultural humility among all our students, staff and faculty members. This, in turn, will create a Gillings’ institutional climate where individuals feel supported and able to achieve success.

A strong commitment to an inclusive climate is certainly not new for Gillings, and is affirmed in our inclusive excellence statement. However, the time has come to expand and solidify our efforts in these areas, as well as to identify any gaps which need to be addressed. Inclusive excellence is necessary to reduce institutional barriers for marginalized populations (see diversity statement above), to eliminate achievement gaps, to improve student experience and employee satisfaction, to increase retention, and to graduate the next generation of public health professionals who are prepared to tackle the inequities, disparities and social justice deficits in their workspaces and in their communities.

The American Public Health Association states:

Yet today, there are inequities in health that are avoidable, unnecessary and unjust. These inequities are the result of policies and practices that create an unequal distribution of money, power and resources among communities based on race, class, gender, place and other factors. To assure that everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health, we must address the social determinants of health AND equity.

Pursuing and achieving inclusive excellence is necessary to fully address both the social determinants of health AND equity. It will take the effort and cooperation of all of us. Not just people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, veterans, individuals with disabilities, non-traditional students, non-Christians, first-generation students. ALL. OF. US. The Gillings’ climate, in which we all study and work is created and nurtured by each one of us, and will reflect what we do, and what we do not, contribute to it. I hope you will join me in changing existing and developing new practices and processes which reflect our commitment to continuous improvement of our climate, and to our ardent pursuit of inclusive excellence.