Gillings School receives 2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

October 7, 2020

For the second year in a row, leadership at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health has been honored with the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for outstanding commitment to and ongoing promotion of inclusive excellence. In a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical need for racial justice, the Gillings community continues its mission to advance understanding of health equity and eliminate health inequities. Diversity, equity and inclusion are central tenets of that mission.

Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

As a recipient of the annual Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor for U.S. colleges and universities — the Gillings School will be featured, along with 45 other recipients, in the December 2020 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Two signature programs distinguish the historical commitment of the Gillings School to inclusive excellence. The Minority Health Conference is the largest and longest-running student-led health conference in the country. The conference seeks to raise awareness concerning health disparities and to mobilize coalitions of students, community members and academics to take action for change. The Gillings School has also hosted the National Health Equity Research Webcast for over 25 years, covering topics such as structural racism, toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences, and the school to prison pipeline.

This April, the Gillings Inclusive Excellence team launched the Emergency Preparedness, Ethics and Equity webinar series, which aims to explore the social inequities unearthed by the COVID-19 pandemic and our response to it. Speakers in these webinars explore ways to apply culturally relevant, ethical and equitable decision-making so that vulnerable populations are not left further disenfranchised in the wake of the pandemic. Topics have included pandemic protection for people who are incarcerated, challenges faced by first-generation students, elevating and recentering LGBTQ+ health, and how faith leaders are sustaining community.

In June, faculty, instructional staff and teaching assistants participated in an Inclusive Classrooms symposium on understanding and addressing structural racism in order to create more inclusive classrooms, particularly in the health professions.

Dr. Kauline Cipriani

Dr. Kauline Cipriani

Leadership is continuing to implement its Inclusive Excellence Action Plan (IEAP) under the guidance of Kauline Cipriani, PhD, associate dean for inclusive excellence and associate professor in the Public Health Leadership Program, and the Inclusive Excellence Council, which is advisory to senior leadership that is charged with monitoring the progress of the action plan. The plan represents a road map for ensuring sustained equity in all educational and workplace practices.

“Here at Gillings, we have been steadfastly advancing all five pillars of our IEAP,” said Cipriani. “Receiving the Health Professions HEED award for the second time is one way we can be assured our strategy is working and our effort is having a positive impact.“

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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