October 18, 2021

The 2021 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

The 2021 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

For the third consecutive year, 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. As the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the urgent need for racial justice, the Gillings community is dedicated to dismantling the systems of racism that create barriers to equitable health. This starts by cultivating a community of inclusive excellence within the Gillings School so that students are equipped to be culturally competent leaders who can effectively combat health inequities.

As a recipient of the annual Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — the Gillings School will be featured, along with 50 other recipients, in the December 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Two signature programs distinguish the Gillings School’s historical commitment 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 2021 Minority Health Conference was an all-virtual event held on Feb. 25-26. Co-led by health policy and management graduate students Rachel Singley and Shewit Weldense, its theme, “Body and Soul,” explored avenues of health activism that go beyond the scope of politics.

The Gillings School also has 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 year’s theme was “This is U.S.: Dissent, Denial and the Health of Populations.”

The Gillings School’s Minority Student Caucus (MSC) has lent critical support to both programs. This year is the 50th anniversary of the MSC, which advocates for students of color in the Gillings School and promotes research and programs addressing health concerns that affect people of color.

Leadership at the Gillings School is continuing to hone and implement the Inclusive Excellence Action Plan (IEAP) under the guidance of Jeffrey Simms, MSPH, interim associate dean for inclusive excellence, 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 of the School’s educational and workplace practices.

Jeffrey Simms

Jeffrey Simms

“The Gillings community is honored to be recognized again by the Health Professions HEED Award for our commitment to Inclusive Excellence and our efforts to create an environment where every member of our community thrives,” said Simms.

“The Health Professions 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 Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools 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 sphcomm@unc.edu.

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