Because of their outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) have won the 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
Both schools submitted “comprehensive and rigorous applications that included 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, co-publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which received a record 170-plus applications from across the country this year.
The School of Social Work (SSW) broke new ground with the award, becoming the first such school to be honored by the oldest and largest diversity publication in higher education.
Under community outreach, SSW mentioned its Social Worker in the Library program, where a social worker and several student interns assist library patrons with such activities as job searching, finding housing, and after-school group work for adolescents.
SSW’s “social justice and activism” component covered “prenatal care to careers,” including Promise Heights in Upton and Druid Heights, “B’more for Healthy Babies,” which is reducing infant mortality rates, and its advocacy that kept open and revitalized a West Baltimore high school (Renaissance Academy).
Asked for examples of innovative diversity education, SSW pointed out, “We operate the Positive School Center (PSC), which works with principals and teachers to learn and implement restorative practices and positive language elements for reducing the suspension and expulsion of Baltimore City Public School students. PSC involves workshops, small group training, lots of on-site coaching and follow-up, peer group support, and more.”
Sheila Blackshear, MSL, MS, diversity, ADA, and affirmative action administrator in Human Resource Services, helped the School of Social Work with its application and was thrilled with the HEED Award that resulted.
“The school is so rich in resources related to community engagement,” she said. “You go to their website and it’s all there. Programs under Social Work Community Outreach Service [SWCOS], Promise Heights, and others include parenting guidance, financial advice, child welfare, training and education. They have a long history of helping others in so many ways.”
The School of Nursing (SON), which has 46 percent of students who identify as racially and ethnically diverse, and 12 percent who are male — both figures that are above average for nursing schools nationwide — likewise has much to be proud of.
“Dean Kirschling was the first dean on our campus to appoint a dean-level position in diversity and inclusion [associate dean Jeffrey Ash, EdD]. He also serves on the school leadership team and the campus diversity committee, chairs the new faculty recruitment committee, and consults with other schools who do not have a chief diversity officer,” said the HEED Award application, which was developed by Laurelyn Irving, PhD, MSW, the school’s Diversity and Inclusion program director.
The school’s efforts to increase the number of bachelor’s-prepared nurses and to provide students with significant financial assistance also contribute to expanding its diverse student body. For example, SON has developed dual-admission partnerships with 12 community colleges statewide to facilitate academic progression from Associate Degree in Nursing programs to its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Also, thanks to a $10 million gift from Bill and Joanne Conway’s Bedford Falls Foundation, SON has expanded its signature Conway Scholars program to provide scholarships to nearly 350 additional students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees, thereby aiding in addressing the state’s nursing workforce needs.
SON also is employing various strategies to retain diverse faculty and staff. Its Office of Diversity and Inclusion offers individual and departmental support with a focus on relationship and community building and advocacy, efforts aimed at ensuring fairness in policies and practices at all levels. It has developed activities, events, and affinity groups to engage faculty, staff, and students in thinking more broadly about diversity and in working toward a more inclusive community. For example, it offers biannual professional development opportunities for all faculty and staff that focus specifically on enhancing understanding of the multiple aspects of diversity and inclusion.
UMB is no stranger to INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which recognized the national winners in its December issue, or the HEED Awards. In 2015, when INSIGHT was still recognizing entire institutions, UMB received the prestigious award for its community engagement efforts after the unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray. In 2013, UMB earned a HEED Award for what its schools were doing related to diversity — both individually and together through interprofessional initiatives.
Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, of the School of Nursing and Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, of the School of Social Work are proud their schools are carrying on the fine tradition as HEED Award winners.
“We are honored to be recognized with the prestigious award,” Kirschling said. “The application process touched upon every aspect of our institutional life and provided an important opportunity for us to assess our progress. Although our work is far from done, I sincerely thank our faculty, staff, and students for their deep commitment to ensuring that we live the values of diversity and inclusion every day in everything we do.”
“I am thrilled to have been nominated for this award and to receive this award on behalf of the University of Maryland School of Social Work,” Barth said. “Our work in West Baltimore involves deep and diverse partnerships and has been a source of much pride, learning, and benefit. We continue to endeavor to find ways in our hiring, admissions, supervision, teaching, and community activities to be a diverse, inclusive, and highly effective contributor to UMB’s success and to achieve our goal — to strengthen society — in ever more significant ways.”