The College of Health Professions prioritizes the core value of individual dignity. We strive to promote a culture of diversity, inclusivity, and equity in a supportive learning and work environment. We are committed to creating a community that embraces and honors students’, staff, and faculty members’ diverse backgrounds, identities and lived experiences. We aim to reflect the full breadth and depth of diversity of the Commonwealth of Virginia in terms of race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic class, religion, creed, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, and disability identity.

Angela Duncan, Dr. Tomika Ferguson, Dean Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D., and Dr. Stephan DavisEvery student deserves an exceptional education that includes learning to effectively serve individuals and communities that reflect the rich diversity of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Faculty and staff are responsible for creating an educational and research environment that is welcoming and inclusive of all students. Faculty and staff use instructional approaches that foster intellectual contributions while encouraging critical thinking and freedom of expression. Our faculty have the expertise to lead efforts in ensuring patients, consumers, community members, families, and communities receive high-touch, respectful, and humanizing support within the context of evolving health care technology.

We commit to this statement because it is consistent with the values of both the College of Health Professions and of Virginia Commonwealth University. A climate of inclusion and diversity aligns with an overwhelming body of evidence-based health care and decades of health and workplace research. Finally, a culture of inclusivity and diversity is imperative to meet our College’s responsibility to train effective health care professionals and generate the highest quality scientific research that advances health.

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CHP

VCU students open Hopewell grade schoolers’ eyes to science at STEAM Day

On their first day of spring break, VCU science, technology, engineering, arts and math students showed off science experiments to students at Patrick Copeland Elementary School.

VCU student Sarah Plutkis, right, demonstrates a Samantha Dua, a senior majoring in medical laboratory sciences at the VCU College of Health Professions, and her friend Sarah Plutkis showed off their “magical dancing corn” experiment with baking soda, water and vinegar as one third-grader exclaimed, “Why are the bubbles picking up the corn? That’s so weird!”

Read more about STEAM day on VCU News.

NBC/MSNBC Journalist Lui to visit VCU College of Health Professions

Richard Lui, an anchor and journalist with NBC News and MSNBC, will visit the VCU College of Health Professions on April 7. The first-generation Chinese and Polynesian American will spend a day in Richmond and share his personal and professional journey while discussing the importance of investing in diverse communities in order to improve population health.

Lui was invited to VCU by the Department of Health Administration as part of its new inclusive leadership education initiative. 

Lui is an award-winning journalist and author with more than 30 years in television, film, technology, and business. Prior to anchoring for MSNBC and NBC News, he was with CNN Worldwide and became the first Asian American man to anchor a daily national cable news program. He regularly speaks to his on-the-ground experience on the complex topic of race, driven by his journalistic expertise.

“We are so excited that Richard Lui is able to join us and meet with our students and faculty to share his story and his vision for investing in diverse communities,” says Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, FNAP, assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the VCU College of Health Professions (CHP) and executive director of inclusive leadership education for the Department of Health Administration. “After years of watching Richard on the news, I was elated to have the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one at the end of 2021. I knew from our conversation, which ranged from healthcare to the challenges minorities often face in professional environments, that VCU students would benefit from learning about his personal and professional journey and his mission-driven work on caregiving and mental health.”

"I am thrilled to join the VCU College of Health Professions and the Department of Health Administration as they commemorate National Minority Health Month,” Lui said.  “When I met with Dr. Davis, I was impressed with his leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the College's investment in this important work. Given my personal experience with and films related to caregiving, I am most excited to meet with students who will be the next generation of healthcare providers and health system leaders."

Lui is the author of the bestselling and award-winning book Enough About Me: The Unexpected Power of Selflessness. He is also the director and producer of two feature documentary films including his directorial debut, Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation, which covers children caring for military veteran parents and grandparents with disabilities. His second film, Hidden Wounds, profiles three families at the intersection of mental health and caregiving. 

April is National Minority Health Month, and Lui’s talk on the Month’s theme, Give Your Community a Boost, will focus on the ways that investing in diverse communities can help to eradicate health disparities. The day will include a keynote address for 150 guests and a screening of Lui’s award-winning film on caregiving, Sky Blossom, followed by an exclusive Q&A session.

Links to register are below. Space is limited.

Being the change

New Health Administration faculty leader aims to produce graduates who cultivate an environment of belonging for all people

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions

January 24, 2022

Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Health Professions is known for attracting the highest level of faculty who are influential thought leaders and experts in their respective disciplines. And this month, the College welcomes Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, an award-winning healthcare leader and educator, as the new assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and executive director of inclusive leadership education in the Department of Health Administration.

Stephan Davis standing at the bottom of the College of Health Professions stairway.

Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE, is the new assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and executive director of inclusive leadership education in the Department of Health Administration.

Davis’ passion for and work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion has been informed by many of his lived experiences. The son of Black parents who were raised in the civil rights era, he grew up learning about racial injustice. As a teenager in St. Louis, Missouri, he also learned through painful experiences that he would face challenges in navigating the world both due to race and as a member of the gender and sexual minority community. At 17, Davis left the Midwest to study jazz performance in New York City. After a year in New York that was filled with profound and affirming experiences, as well as moments that made clear the work toward social justice that still needed to be done, Davis was convinced that while he would always continue to play saxophone and write music, his academic focus would shift to areas where he could make a greater impact to improve health and alleviate human suffering.

Davis went on to study nursing at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. During his time in nursing school, he worked as a student nurse extern in the pediatric intensive care unit at University of Maryland Medical Center – the same institution where Bill Flanigan and Robert Daniel, a gay couple, had been discriminated against when Daniel was at the end of life. Despite their domestic partnership in the state of California, and Flanigan holding durable power of attorney - enabling him to make end of life decisions for Daniel, the hospital staff denied Flanigan the right to see Daniel or make decisions in accordance with his partner’s wishes.

"Cases such as these, moved me to pursue healthcare leadership, so that I could be a part of the change that is so desperately needed for our field,” said Davis.

Upon graduation from nursing school, Davis began working clinically in the post anesthesia care unit at Washington Hospital Center while also pursuing a master’s degree in health systems administration at Georgetown University. In less than a year, he entered his first leadership role as director of the health workforce innovation project, a $500,000 grant as a result of a unique partnership between the D.C. department of employment services, MedStar Georgetown Hospital, and Georgetown University to prepare unemployed D.C. residents for entry-level roles that typically had high turnover. Davis says this project, at the intersection of government programs, healthcare delivery, and academia, was impactful for his leadership trajectory.

Davis spent more than a decade in progressively responsible leadership positions, overseeing quality functions such as utilization management, case management, disease management, accreditation readiness, clinical and process improvement, as well as workforce-development areas such as organizational learning and academic-practice partnerships.

Stephan Davis wearing a College of Health Professions shirtThroughout his career, he has been a champion for advancing DEI and improving healthcare quality and access for the underserved. From volunteering as a registered nurse for an LGBTQ+ clinic at the beginning of his career, to serving on the board of directors for a Federally Qualified Health Center that primarily served people living with HIV/AIDS, to leading organizations to achieve designation for LGBTQ healthcare equality with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), much of Davis’ work has been dedicated to making healthcare more inclusive for some of the people and populations who need care the most, but who can rightly be fearful to seek services due to stigma and discrimination.

Despite numerous past examples of discrimination in care delivery settings, Davis believes that all institutions regardless of their history can make meaningful progress toward inclusion. For instance, University of Maryland Medical Center, an institution highlighted for same-sex partner discrimination at the turn of the century, subsequently became recognized as a leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality with HRC – a testament to the powerful change that can occur when inclusive leaders are guiding health systems to advance DEI. “This is exactly what inclusive leadership education is all about”, said Davis.

Being able to focus on contributing to department and College related efforts to produce graduates who embody principles of inclusive leadership and who are empowered advocates for meaningful change is part of what led him to VCU.

“When I first met Dean Susan Parish, and she shared her vision for the College, it was really refreshing to hear that DEI is among her top priorities,” said Davis. “Also, having known Dr. Paula Song, chair of the Department of Health Administration, through the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA), I was convinced long before my interview at VCU that she shared a deep, meaningful and action-oriented commitment to advancing DEI in healthcare leadership.”

“Stephan brings a truly exceptional mix of clinical, executive, and academic experiences to this role,” said Paula Song, Ph.D., Richard M. Bracken chair and professor in the Department of Health Administration. “I’m confident that his firm commitment to DEI and inclusive leadership education will help the department develop leaders that reflect the diversity and voices of the communities they serve.”

With regard to his role as the department’s very first executive director of inclusive leadership education, Davis believes in producing leaders who cultivate environments where all people can experience belonging and thrive.

When asked what this new area of focus for the department would entail, Davis explained “as we look at inclusive leadership education, all stakeholders within our health administration learning community will be engaged to establish a co-created vision and philosophy that describes our *’active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity’ as we continue to pursue inclusive excellence. In addition to designing meaningful educational experiences related to DEI for all health administration students, there will be particular focus on supporting students from historically underrepresented and excluded backgrounds in navigating systems and institutions that have not always been created with us in mind.”

Davis has hit the ground running with regard to this type of educational programming. On Feb. 25 at noon (EST), he will be hosting and moderating a Black History Month webinar featuring prominent Black healthcare leaders entitled “Black and Golden: Leveraging Black Identity as an Asset in Healthcare Leadership.”

Related to his role as assistant dean, he looks forward to working with Dr. Angela Duncan, associate dean, to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for the College. “When I met Dr. Duncan, I immediately felt connected to her energy, passion, and drive to make meaningful change for the College and university,” said Davis.

“When I saw Dr. Davis’ interview presentation on simulating patient bias in care delivery settings, which featured a case of racial discrimination against a clinician and the moral, ethical, and legal implications, I knew that he was someone we needed on our team” said Angela Duncan, Ph.D., associate dean for diversity equity, and inclusion for the College. “The College has been working to provide an infrastructure to do the work of DEI, and I am excited that Dr. Davis is here to help push this work even further. I look forward to working alongside him as we continue to champion transformational change and create new opportunities for everyone.”

Prior to coming to VCU, Davis served as director of the Master of Health Administration program, assistant professor of health administration, and chair of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health in Ft. Worth, Tex. A fellow and national faculty member for the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), he is the immediate past chair of the ACHE LGBTQ Healthcare Leaders Community and has served as an ACHE Regent-at-Large, a role created to foster diversity in the governance of ACHE. In addition, he serves as chair of the Quality and Safety Faculty Forum for the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). His DEI-related work in academia includes serving as an invited conferee for the Macy Foundation conference on Addressing Harmful Bias and Eliminating Discrimination in Health Professions Learning Environments, which culminated in a report of recommendations released in September of 2020.

Davis holds numerous board certifications, including credentials in healthcare quality, finance, strengths-based coaching, nursing leadership, and academic nursing education. He received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland; a Master of Science in Health Systems Administration from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and his Doctor of Nursing Practice in Healthcare Leadership, Systems and Policy from Yale University in New Haven, CT.

*Reference – Clayton-Pederson, A., Clayton-Pederson, S. (2012). “Making excellence inclusive” in education and beyond. Pepperdine Law Review. 35 (3), 611-648.

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Past DEI Events

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

The College of Health Professions Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee provides access and opportunities to platforms for learning, engaging and sharing around issues of social justice, equality, equity, and access.

Creating an equal and welcoming learning environment is the responsibility of all of us. The College of Health Profession is committed to providing opportunities and resources to promote changes that impact our students, staff, faculty, and learning environment. The CHP diversity statement echoes this call.

The DEI committee is composed of VCU faculty, staff and students who foster a supportive and welcoming workplace environment in which employees and students of all backgrounds and demographic characteristics can work together.