VCU College of Health Professions Receives National Honor for Higher Education Excellence in Diversity

College is the first and only academic unit on the VCU Health Sciences Campus to receive this honor

Paula Song, Stephan Davis and Angela Duncan standing with DEI team members and supportThe Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions has received the 2023 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

This makes the College the first and only academic unit on the health sciences campus to receive this national award, which recognizes U.S. health colleges and universities who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. The College of Health Professions will be featured, along with 61 other recipients, in the November/December 2023 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“This award is a testament to our unwavering commitment to creating and elevating a meaningful culture in a supportive learning and work environment,” said Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, FAAN, associate dean for inclusive excellence and belonging. “We are honored to be recognized for excellence in diversity, and we will continue to embrace the individual backgrounds and lived experiences of one another and the communities we proudly serve.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected the VCU College of Health Professions based on a number of initiatives, such as fostering a welcoming and inclusive research environment; promoting a safe culture that encourages learning and critical thinking; and also featuring distinguished thought leaders and experts who share perspectives, stories and diverse ideas as a way to inspire a culture of inclusion and engagement.

“As a College, we have made great strides along our inclusive excellence journey, and we continue to focus on learning more about ourselves and one another, in order to become more effective, compassionate leaders and health care providers,” said Paula H. Song, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Health Professions, and Richard M. Bracken chair and professor of Health Administration. “I sincerely thank the College’s DEI committee for their efforts in promoting opportunities which foster growth and an inclusive learning environment for all.”

In recent years, the College has implemented a number of initiatives, such as implementing affinity groups and offering safe spaces to have listening sessions and sensitive conversations; providing diversity training for all faculty; establishing the “Voices for Change” grand rounds speaker series, featuring guests who share personal stories regarding their own lived experiences and evidence-based approaches to promote belonging; and a number of educational events on clinical and leadership topics. Additionally, the College was the first unit on the health sciences campus to appoint an associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion- a role first held by Angela Duncan, Ph.D., Davis’s predecessor.

INSIGHT into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award 2023 Health Profession School“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.”

Learn more about the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the College of Health Professions on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page. For more information about the 2023 INSIGHT Into Diversity Health Professions HEED Award, and to see a full list of all honorees, visit INSIGHT to Diversity's website.

Read about how VCU has been recognized as a Diversity Champion for the fifth straight year by INSIGHT into Diversity on VCU News.

The VCU College of Health Professions is a nationally recognized leader in the education of health providers and leaders, and cultivates an interprofessional approach to training. The College offers curricula at the baccalaureate, master's, post-graduate and doctoral levels designed to prepare health care professionals for roles in a variety of clinical, teaching, and community health and wellness settings. For more, visit our College of Health Professions website.

About INSIGHT Into Diversity
INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the leader in advancing best practices in DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in higher education. Through thought-provoking print and online articles, we share expert advice, valuable resources, in-depth profiles of top DEI programs at colleges and universities, headline news, and much more to help keep our readers informed and empower them to advance DEI initiatives at their institutions. To further our mission, we created the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award in 2012. The HEED Award — including the more targeted INSIGHT Into Diversity Health Professions, Law School, and Community College HEED Awards — is the only national honor to recognize institutions of higher education for their outstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Current, archived, and digital issues of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine are available online at INSIGHT to Diversity's website.

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