Creating a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem

At the Gillings School, diversity and inclusion mean we welcome, value and learn from individual differences and perspectives. By cultivating inclusion within the School, we better prepare our students, faculty, and staff for the diverse world that awaits them. A globally-interconnected world needs culturally competent people to serve as its leaders. Diversity and inclusion are assets that contribute to our excellence.

Diversity and inclusion are essential components of academic excellence. They empower us to participate in a global community and model our institutional commitment to social justice, human dignity and peace. To address diversity and inclusion issues in a meaningful and significant manner, we formed a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force (DITF) in November 2010.

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

Diversity planning at the Gillings School: A brief overview

The DITF completed its report in September 2011 A smaller committee, called DITF-I (PDF) and comprised of volunteers from DITF, moved forward to help steer the implementation process through 2016. In 2018, we hired Kauline Cipriani, PhD to lead our efforts as assistant dean for inclusive excellence and associate professor of public health leadership. A sampling of our efforts to achieve greater diversity and inclusion include:

  • Approving the Dean’s Council Statement of Commitment
  • Sharing best practices across departments, including admissions practices
  • Appointing Dr. Rumay Alexander, EdD, RN, now the chief diversity officer and associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at UNC-Chapel Hill,  as diversity liaison for the Gillings School from 2010 until 2018. She served as a key advisor in this role.
  • Hiring diversity recruitment specialist, Trinnette Cooper, MPH, to support our diversity outreach and recruitment programs and strengthened pipeline programs through the Summer Public Health Symposium for high school students (2012-present), Project IMHOTEP for juniors and seniors (2012-present) and regular outreach at pre-college, college and professional levels.
  • Strengthening ties to University resources.
  • Developing more courses with a focus on the health of diverse populations.
  • Assessing admissions practices and adopting  best practices across programs.
  • Developing a unified approach to addressing diversity, inclusion and cultural competencies in core courses through the Gillings MPH Core.
  • Establishing a new concentration available within the Gillings MPH – Health Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights.

Leadership

Diversity and Inclusion Task Force members represented the full spectrum of diversity reflected in the Gillings School’s diversity statement,  and a broad spectrum of roles, ranks, experiences, opinions and perspectives. A smaller Change Team examined Task force deliberations, conducted additional research and developed a strategy document. The Task Force and Change Team were led by co-chairs Rumay Alexander, EdD, RN,  at that time a clinical professor and director of multicultural affairs, School of Nursing, and Bryan Weiner, PhD, at that time a professor of health policy and management, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. In Summer 2016, a group of Gillings School faculty, staff and students revived the efforts of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, forming a new committee with volunteers from across the Gillings School.

A new committee, to be led by Kauline Cipriani, PhD, assistant dean for inclusive excellence and associate professor, public health leadership, will be formed soon.

Resources

A sampling of resources from our diversity and inclusion change processes include:

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