SMPH Dean Robert N. Golden has said, “Our diversity in terms of our individual backgrounds, training and experiences makes us stronger and more complete as a school, an academic health system and community.” Dean Golden would also be among the first to acknowledge that, like many of our deepest values, diversity, equity and inclusion require not only day-to-day commitment, but also a long-term strategic vision for how we will cultivate and express them more fully.

In October, with the launch of the new Diversity and Inclusion Advocate Program, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health will take a significant step forward on both fronts. The program grows out of SMPH’s recently adopted strategic plan for diversity, encapsulated in the SMPH IDEA: inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

The DIA program will comprise 24 individuals, each assigned a department or portfolio of departments to represent the Office of Human Resources, Equity and Inclusion. Serving two-year terms, DIAs will be a resource to help broaden applicant pools and ensure equitable evaluation and selection criteria during the search process. They will also serve as a confidential resource and advocate for individuals and groups to strengthen the learning and professional climate for all, and will participate in the SMPH Diversity Work Group to align all aspects of recruitment, selection and retention with the school’s strategic diversity aims.

Through September 8, SMPH is accepting nominations for the DIA program. Those from all faculty tracks as well as administrative directors are welcome to self-nominate or to nominate others (with their consent) for this service opportunity. The most important qualifications are a commitment to the SMPH IDEA and a willingness to apply and expand one’s leadership skills to achieve it. To apply, please use the nomination form available online.

The DIA program grew in large part from the work of a team led by Brian Gittens, EdD, who joined the dean’s leadership team in January 2016, as associate dean for human resources, equity and inclusion. Taking a quality improvement approach, the group analyzed performance data re diversity and inclusion, and has designed programs with measurable improvement goals. In coming months, watch for more results of this team’s work as SMPH introduces other new initiatives to enhance inclusion, diversity, equity and access.