The UF College of Dentistry was recognized a second straight year for its longstanding effort towards diversity and inclusion when INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, awarded the college with the 2016 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, Award.
INSIGHT into Diversity’s HEED Award is a national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing, and allied health schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UFCD considers access to education for diverse and underrepresented students and populations as a top priority, resulting in back-to-back HEED Award distinctions in 2015 and 2016.
From programming like the Summer Health Professions Education Program, focused heavily on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in the health professions, to the college’s support for its students from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, like the Health Resources & Services Administration’s Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students, efforts and support towards diversity and inclusion flourish across all college units.
“Success in the area of diversity isn’t related to just numbers and percentages. It is about an entire culture of inclusion and acceptance throughout the dental school experience. It relates to faculty and staff, as well as students and residents, and is a natural expression of having a humanistic approach to recruitment, education, research and day-to-day interactions,” said A. Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H., dean.
UFCD is the only UF college, and one of only three dental schools in the United States, to receive the HEED Award this year, the inaugural year for the health professions HEED award category.
“We are very honored and proud to have been recognized for our efforts toward increasing the diversity of our dental students, faculty and staff, and ultimately the diversity of the dental profession and academic dentistry, something that has been a priority goal for the college for many years. This award can be attributed to a long list of dedicated faculty and staff, as well as ongoing support from current and former students from diverse backgrounds,” Garcia added.
The college’s Office of Admissions initiated and coordinated the award application, working with other faculty and staff in the college. The HEED award recognizes the extensive focus on diversity in the college that reaches into all aspects of the school including the gender mix, race and ethnicity mix of faculty, staff, students, college leadership and the members of the admissions review committee. Additional aspects taken into account include student recruitment, the D.M.D. curriculum and the overall retention of students during their course of study, especially those for students who are among historically underrepresented groups in the profession.
“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. We take a holistic 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 accomplished every day across their campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.