Diversity Summit III April 2017
Diversity Summit III
UMMS “Diversity Summit” Initiative
A Process to Implement the Ten Recommendations of the Executive Council’s
Ad Hoc Work Group on Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Health Sciences
The University of Massachusetts Medical School is committed to growing and sustaining a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of the UMMS academic community. This institutional commitment is both aligned with and supportive of the Medical School’s public mission to advance the health and well-being of the people of the commonwealth and the world through pioneering advances in education, research and health care delivery.
While there are many elements to the medical school’s strategic focus on diversity and inclusion, UMMS, during the past year, has coalesced around a series of “Diversity Summits,” the underlying purpose of which has been to “move the needle” on the institution’s efforts to become more diverse and culturally competent among the ranks of UMMS faculty, staff and students.
This targeted initiative emanated from the outstanding work of the Executive Council’s Ad Hoc Work Group on Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Health Sciences, which was chaired by Catarina Kiefe, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences.
The Work Group, initiated and led by UMMS faculty members, developed ten core recommendations to enhance diversity within the faculty and across the student body. Upon receiving the Work Group’s final report, Chancellor Michael F. Collins, MD and other senior campus leaders endorsed the recommendations put forward and spearheaded a comprehensive process to develop focused implementation plans for each of the ten recommendations [ Link to Recommendations ].
A defining feature of the resulting implementation process overseen by Chancellor Collins, Provost Terence R. Flotte, MD; Vice Chancellor Deborah Plummer, PhD; and Chair Kiefe was the convening of three separate “Diversity Summits,” the first of which was held in May of 2016. These summits, involving almost 100 UMMS community members, served as open forums for content experts, key stakeholders and campus leaders to come together to reach consensus on a process to move the initiative forward.
The members of the UMMS community who participated in the summits demonstrated an inspiring commitment to this institution and its future. The entire effort was marked by a collaborative, constructive and collegial spirit. There was a seriousness of purpose among those who contributed to the process, as well as a willingness to have a laser-like focus on the overarching goal of improving diversity across the UMMS enterprise.
In early 2016, the UMMS Executive Council established an Ad Hoc Work Group on Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Health Sciences to accelerate an ongoing campus-wide conversation on diversity challenges among the medical school’s faculty and student populations. Dr. Kiefe led the Ad Hoc Work Group, which developed recommendations targeted toward recruiting and retaining faculty and students from underrepresented groups in medicine.
The Ad Hoc Work Group’s final report served as the catalyst for the kick-off Diversity Summit, hosted by Chancellor Collins on May 31, 2016. The primary focus of this first summit, attended by more than 80 UMMS community members, was to organize a coordinated work plan to advance each of the 10 high-level recommendations and the more than 40 total recommendations and sub-recommendations.
Key individuals were assigned to each implementation team and tasked with developing a plan to thoughtfully and expeditiously implement their respective topic area. Further, and given the efforts of the Ad Hoc Work Group were limited to increasing diversity among faculty and students, a decision was made at the first summit to convene a separate work group to develop action plans aimed at improving diversity among UMMS staff.
The second Diversity Summit was held on November 2, 2016 to assure the implementation teams had adequate time to refine their work plans, gather and analyze information and data and prepare presentations. All 40 recommendations and sub-recommendations were discussed and considered. To continue to move the process forward, however, it was determined that a Prioritization Work Group would need to be formed and charged with distilling all of the recommended items into thematically grouped priority areas. Such an approach, it was agreed, would facilitate the difficult work of identifying the most promising, timely and attainable plans that had the best chance to positively impact diversity across UMMS.
The Prioritization Work Group was comprised of seven department chairs, two assistant deans and the vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. This group of campus leaders devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy into the process, meeting weekly to learn more about each of the 40 recommendations and sub-recommendations.
After months of careful analysis, the Prioritization Work Group reframed the recommendations into three strategic priorities that merited the greatest attention and would have the greatest possibility of impacting diversity at UMMS.
On April 10, 2017, Chancellor Collins convened the third Diversity Summit. This session provided the Prioritization Work Group with an opportunity to present its findings and new thematic framework. The three priority areas and corresponding action items, summarized below, were endorsed by the summit participants and now serve as a blueprint for targeted efforts that have the best chance for success.
The Diversity and Inclusion Office, led by Dr. Plummer, is helping to coordinate the multiple initiatives already underway across UMMS. The collective commitment of the key stakeholders to this effort has been outstanding and will prove critical to any progress made on diversity among faculty, staff and students. Indeed, there is a tangible willingness among the campus community to be engaged in and accountable for a process that ultimately results in a student body and workforce more diverse, welcoming and reflective of the rich cultural mosaic found in the communities UMMS serves.
While much progress has been made to date, UMMS is engaged in a multi-year and multi-pronged implementation process. The continued contributions and buy-in of all UMMS community members will be essential to achieving the institution’s diversity goals in the coming years.
As mentioned above, the Prioritization Work Group reframed the 40 total recommendations and sub-recommendations into three thematically group priority areas. These three areas serve as the roadmap for current and future diversity efforts across UMMS.
1. Shifting the UMMS Institutional Culture
- UMMS continues to provide training to manage unconscious bias among members of search committees;
- The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (DIO) will provide consultation and education sessions about multicultural mentoring for Learning Community Mentors in the School of Medicine;
- DIO has instituted cultural competence throughout the curriculum, beginning during student orientation; and
- DIO has developed a campus-wide ‘dignity and respect’ initiative through its Council on Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
2. Recruitment and Retention of URM Faculty Members
- An external review committee has been formed to evaluate the Faculty Diversity Scholars Program and provide recommendations to restructure the program to achieve greater impact.
3. Enhancing and Strengthening our Student Pipeline Programs
- The Baccalaureate-MD Pathway Program (a collaboration with the four undergraduate UMass campuses) and The Health Sciences Careers Prep Program have demonstrated high rates of success in converting high school and undergraduate students to pursue careers in the health sciences. It was recommended that UMMS place a greater strategic focus on these two pipeline programs in the future.