Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Update: January 2019

Monday, January 14, 2019

Greetings, SPH! This is a short update on what’s been happening on the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) front.

Rukie Hartman Thomas photo 
Rukie Hartman Thomas

New Staff: Welcome to our Dean’s Office staffer, Rukie Hartman Thomas (she/her pronouns), who holds a shared position in the Student Academic Services team and the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team. Rukie came to us in November from Northwest Harvest, where she worked to address issues of food insecurity, diversity and equity in the local community. Rukie is a UW Husky (class of 2013) and is also working on her Master’s at Gonzaga University. One of her roles is to work with students on career planning, to engage with students and student organizations, and to assist with event planning, mentoring and community building. She is also going to be more actively involved in working with the EDI committees, and be available to departments and programs for questions and information. Please come and meet Rukie; her office is in F361D.

Student Life: We have been working with students and student organizations on conference planning for several events this winter and spring. It has been awesome to see students not just from SPH but also from other health professions schools reaching out to us in SPH for interdisciplinary collaboration. We hope that you have the following student conferences on your calendar: 

April 6 – First-ever LGBTQ Health conference

April 27 – SCPH Health Disparities Conference

ofrenda photo 

In October, we teamed up with Students of Color Affinity Group (SOCAG), Students of Color for Public Health (SCPH) and Madrona Elementary School Girls Scouts troop #42514 to create an ofrenda (altar) at El Centro de la Raza in remembrance of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). For this ofrenda, we honored the communities who have been deeply affected by recent public health crises. The ofrenda, which was one of two altars designed by UW students, was an expression of creativity and healing that called attention to the huge responsibility that public health has to work for the good of the community. I am happy to say that the ofrenda was very well received and that we have been invited again next year.

LGBTQ group: A new LGBTQ group has been formed in Health Services and, as a follow up to that effort, we convened our first SPH Rainbow (LGBTQ) group meeting on Oct. 30, 2018. Twenty folks attended from various SPH departments and programs. As a result of this meeting, we were able to make connections with other SPH folks in supporting and collaborating with the School of Pharmacy’s QueeRX group’s plans to hold the first ever LGBTQ Health Conference at the UW on April 6. Please mark your calendar and join us for this important conference! 

EDI Strategic Action Plan: The School is developing an EDI Strategic Action Plan to help guide our EDI efforts School-wide. What is the EDI Strategic Action Plan and why do we need it? The plan is designed to be a living, breathing document that serves as a blueprint to identify our School-wide EDI goals, and the strategies that need to be in place to achieve those goals. The EDI Strategic Action Plan is currently available in draft form while input from departmental EDI Committees are ongoing through January. In February, we will release an updated version for School-wide input along with an online form for sending comments and suggestions. Please stay tuned for more on this.

Staff and faculty onboarding: We are beginning to put in place required EDI training for newly hired faculty and staff.  We are still working out the details with our SPH human resource leads in making this happen. Initially, the training will focus on managing bias and the importance of EDI in public health, though topics will change and evolve over time, as needed.

Faculty search committees: The fall quarter was a busy month for our search committees. We have a total of five searches ongoing. In an effort to increase faculty diversity, the Dean has directed me to work more closely with search committees, to be a resource on best practices and training. I have met with all the search committees. While this approach was not ideal (timing issues), I would like to be better prepared next year and explore how we can further improve our searches. If you have input and ideas to share that will help us in this process, please reach out to the Dean or myself – we are open to collaboration and thinking outside of the box on this important equity issue.

SHPEP: We are expecting to host a diverse group of 20 pre-public health students this summer in the Summer Health Professions Education Program. SHPEP is designed to help students from diverse backgrounds to become more familiar with the health professions, and train students to become more competitive for the health professions application process. I have worked with thousands of students for whom this program has been super effective, so I totally encourage you to share this program far and wide! As someone who has been involved in this program for decades, I can tell you that this is one way we can diversify our student body. The deadline to apply for this program is Feb. 15.

Faculty of Color dinner: Our next Faculty of Color dinner will be on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Our guest at our next dinner will be Dr. Pamela Collins, professor of Global Health and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine. She will discuss and facilitate a conversation on “Work Life Balance.” All faculty from diverse backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to join us. This is an informal group that gathers to build community, grow our network, and develop resources that will help support our work and community. For more information, please email me at vg@uw.edu.

UW Board of Regents DEI Data Book: The UW Regents recently released the first ever DEI Data book that includes faculty, staff and student data from all three campuses. School of Public Health workforce and student data is included in the book. A copy can be found here(UW NetID required).