Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a Core value for the GC-CPEH, and we have made it a priority to provide leadership and an active voice in DEI activities across our parent institutions. 

Baylor College of Medicine (BCM)

In the past reporting period the Center for Precision Environmental Health (CPEH), the administrative home for the P30 at BCM, established a DEI committee composed of 20 faculty and staff members: 7 GC-CPEH members serve on this committee including GC-CPEH directors Drs. Walker and Symanski. The Committee identified opportunities to develop DEI efforts within the Center, with a first step to conduct a DEI Climate Survey. The results of this survey were disseminated to faculty, staff, and trainees in August 2021.  A Microsoft Teams site was created for faculty and staff to provide feedback on the survey, as well as ongoing DEI efforts.  GC-CPEH member Dr. Hodges serves as the Baylor institutional DEI Ambassador for the CPEH.  Additionally, Dr. Finnell serves as the GC-CPEH institutional representative for DEI activities at BCM.   In his role as a member of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Finnell, has worked diligently with the DEI BCM office in disseminating DEI information to stakeholders and addressing DEI issues. This included, for example, promoting a virtual workshop held in April 2021 to address “Asian-American and Pacific Islander Discrimination”. GC-CPEH faculty Symanski and Whitworth participated in the review of proposals to support research projects on racial health disparities and health equity, a call issued by BCM’s Office of the President in fall 2020, and we are poised to be fully engaged again when the next RFA is issued. Drs. Walker and Symanski worked closely with Dr. Toi Harris, BCM’s Associate Provost of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and Student Services, in providing input on a presentation she was making at the annual meeting of the National Diversity Council in April 2021, highlighting the work of the GC-CPEH in Disaster Research Response (DR2) that often provides evidence of disproportionate impacts of disasters on communities of color.     

In addition to the above, the GC-CPEH provides its members with numerous DEI development opportunities through the BCM Office of Institutional Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. These professional development opportunities include:

Career development opportunities that provide tools to enhance leadership skills and assist with professional and personal goals for advancement for Baylor College of Medicine early career and mid-career faculty.

• A Compassionate Conversations program trainees and faculty to come together and discuss important social justice issues facing our communities. This program identifies opportunities to engage in ongoing dialogue to address important societal issues or events affecting our communities (local, global), discuss strategies for maintaining self-care during stressful times, and exploring how to participate and lead efforts to advance social justice in our communities.

• A Diversity and Inclusion Week held annually to celebrate diversity, inclusion and equity that features exhibits, speakers, interactive activities, service projects and other activities. National Diversity and Inclusion Week 2021 was celebrated in November 2021 with a focus on immigration.

• Increasing Diversity in Medicine Initiatives, supported by a Health Resources and Services Administration Center of Excellence in Health Equity, Training and Research grant (one of three in Texas) that includes training programs for students, fellow, and junior faculty, sponsors an annual Health Equity Summer Research Summit, most recently held on May 20, 2021 and co-sponsors (with the Office of Institutional Diversity, Inclusion and Equity) a Health Equity Grand Rounds series.

Other institutional DEI activities and events include professional development activities for post-doctoral trainees sponsored by the BCM Office of Postdoctoral Affairs that include workshops on skills enhancement (e.g., working effectively in an intercultural environment, establishing effecting mentoring relationships and improving scientific writing), an annual Multicultural Festival; National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations that occur each Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, that provides an opportunity to recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture; and the Group on Women in Medicine and Science Chapter of the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Women in Medicine and Science, designed to advance the full and successful participation and inclusion of women in science and medicine by addressing gender equity, recruitment, retention, awards and recognition and career advancement.

UTHealth Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

The UTHealth DEI vision is to build and nurture an inclusive culture that celebrates, encourages, and supports the diversity of all our learners, faculty, and staff. This culture is woven into every element of university activity – from policy creation and community.  We use the acronym “F.A.C.E.S.” to synthesize our five guiding principles, which are to:

  • Foster a culture where every voice is welcome, heard, and respected
  • Affirm diversity, understanding, accepting, and embracing our differences
  • Create an inclusive environment that respects the unique characteristics, skills, and experiences of all learners, faculty, and staff
  • Empower individuals to promote diversity and inclusion
  • Strive toward equity for all

After a series of tragic socio-political events across the country in the summer of 2020, UTHealth Houston administration, faculty, and learners joined together to ensure DEI activities were congruent with the institutional mission. On July 10, 2020, the first meeting of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force convened with diversity champions including students, faculty, and staff from each of our six schools, plus representatives from University Classified Staff Council, Interfaculty Council, Student InterCouncil, and central administration. The first objective for the student, faculty, and administration subcommittees was to develop DEI recommendations. Less than three months later, task force members presented a total of nine recommendations to UTHealth Houston President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, who strongly encouraged the task force to become a standing committee. Through consensus, the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force was renamed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council and voted Elda Ramirez, PhD, RN, as the council’s first chair and Elahah Ashtari, PsyD, as chair-elect. The Council has representation from each of the 6 schools at UTHealth: McGregor Medical School, Cizik School of Nursing, School of Public Health, School of Dentistry, School of Biomedical Informatics and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

UTHealth’s DEI commitment is now been codified in a series of policies, for both faculty/staff and students:

Faculty and Staff Diversity Related Policies

  • Handbook of Operating Procedures Policy Number 183: Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment and Equal Opportunity: HOOP Policy 183
  • Handbook of Operating Procedures Policy Number 101: Disability Accommodation: HOOP Policy 101
  • Handbook of Operating Procedures Policy Number 112: Observing Religious Holy Days: Student Diversity Related Policies
  • Handbook of Operating Procedures Policy Number 183: Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment and Equal Opportunity: HOOP Policy 183
  • Handbook of Operating Procedures Policy Number 101: Disability Accommodation: HOOP Policy 101
  • Handbook of Operating Procedures Policy Number 112: Observing Religious Holy Days: HOOP Policy 112
University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB)

UTMB leadership recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion and provides a platform for faculty and staff with common interests or purposes to participate in activities and to interact socially.  At UTMB the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) is charged with advancing UTMB as the educator, employer and provider of choice by promoting an inclusive environment that actively values diversity among staff, faculty, students, patients and the broader community.  The ODI’s mission is to integrate inclusion and excellence into the core aspects of the university’s work through thought leadership, consulting and service delivery.  Integral to the ODI is the Diversity Council which represents the cornerstone of the diversity and inclusion process.  The council is a chartered committee responsible for leading and supporting programs and practices that reinforce the goals outlined in the Diversity and Inclusion strategic plan.  Its mission is to work together to harness the broad spectrum of ideas, experiences and voices that characterize the UTMB community.

Through participation in the Diversity Council, Employee Resource Groups, Celebration and Recognition Events, Affinity Groups, training and more, our GC-CPEH members learn about and influence change in our institution and respective communities.  The Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development (OFAPD) was formulated in 2013 and expanded in 2018, with the goal of developing a diverse community in which each of our four schools (Medicine, Nursing, Health Professionals, and Graduate School) has the opportunity to make important contributions to enhance the careers of faculty and trainees commensurate with the mission, vision, and values of UTMB.  The mission of the OFAPD is to:

  • Establish and sustain a culture that promotes diversity and inclusion in all four schools
  • Plan and implement development activities that enhance recruitment, appointment, retention, and promotion of faculty
  • Serve as a central source for information pertaining to benefits and compensation, policies and procedures, and disseminates information about resources and opportunities to maximize the offerings for professional growth and development for all
  • Ensure consistency with the school’s strategic plan and core values, optimizing resource allocation by aligning the mission(s) of the three Academies (Academy of Master Teachers, Academy of Research Mentors, Academy of Master Clinicians)

OUR INSTITUTIONS

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One Baylor Plaza, MS 229
Houston, TX 77030
gc-cpeh@bcm.edu

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“Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P30ES030285. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”