CHHS Emphasizes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Melissa Dyo, School of Nursing professor and Beach 2030 Leadership Fellow
An important focus of CHHS Beach 2030 has been around student success and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as a critical factor of success. Most recently, the Data Fellows Report last fall demonstrated a strong need for each CHHS department/school to better understand and grapple with addressing their degree programs’ student diversity. Specifically, the report illuminated a strong need to do more to increase Black and African American student enrollment in CHHS degree programs.
“As a result of that report, Dean Lounsbery and the departments sat down and said, ‘We really need to do better at this,” says Dr. Melissa Dyo, School of Nursing professor and Beach 2030 Leadership Fellow. “She encouraged the college to set the goal to double the number of Black and African American students enrolled in CHHS degree programs by 2025,” adds Dyo, who is serving as a liaison between CHHS and its departments to provide support to meet Beach 2030 goals.
“We have to ask ourselves, what are we doing, as a result of this [Data Fellows] report and what are we doing to increase not just our applications, but our recruitment and retention of these students? “We want our graduates to reflect the community we serve,” Dyo says.
For Dyo, in the School of Nursing, that means creating a more holistic admissions process for incoming undergraduate students.
“What we’re seeing is that we’re getting students with really high GPA’s admitted to the School of Nursing -- that’s who we typically admit -- but that pool is not necessarily a diverse group. My hope is that we can figure out how to change our admissions process, so that we’re creating greater accessibility and increasing student diversity. Our current method of making admission decisions based on GPA alone needs to be examined due to the limits it places on diversity and because that’s not always who is going to make the best nurse. It’s going to be the person who has the life skills, the resilience and grit, and someone who has maybe had to suffer hardship.”
By mainly focusing on who has the best GPA for admittance into the college, those from a lower socioeconomic background could be negatively affected, relays Dyo, slanting a bias towards students with extra resources to help them with academics -- and those not necessarily having to work a full-time job or care for a family member, while also going to school. Considerations like these could have important implications for increasing admission pool diversity, Dyo says.
“We are trying to look at how we are engaging with the community and how we can have conversations with these organizations and talk about what we’re doing here within CHHS...”
While some departments in CHHS are looking at changing admission processes, others are focusing on recruiting.
Along with Nursing, CHHS Departments such as Public Policy and Administration, Kinesiology and Health Care Administration participated in the LBUSD-Black Student Achievement Initiative Symposium resource fair in April at Jordan High School. The event was to bring awareness to middle school and high school students about the varied degree programs offered within CHHS. “We are trying to look at how we are engaging with the community and how we can have conversations with these organizations and talk about what we’re doing here within CHHS,” Dyo says.
It’s not only about recruitment, but retention, Dyo emphasizes. The School of Social Work, for example, has been looking at how to incorporate DEI into their curriculum once students are admitted into the college.
“The School of Social Work has done a really great job with their action plans for DEI,” Dyo commends.
Nancy Meyer-Adams, Director of the School of Social Work, relays that the goal in the School of Social Work is to ultimately revamp the entire curriculum to include Critical Race Theory and critical pedagogies.
“We have recently hired faculty who have expertise in Critical Race Theory, and critical pedagogies and we’ve been working on it even prior to the Data Fellows report and Beach 2030,” Meyer-Adams says. “We’ve also had Black Lives Matter dialogues with students, faculty and staff. We are committed to incorporating students’ feedback as we examine the curriculum to see how we can incorporate more inclusivity.”
Nancy Meyer-Adams, Director of the School of Social Work
In prior years, the School of Social Work had an ad hoc diversity committee. One of the implementations the School instituted last year as part of its strategic plan was making it a standing committee.
“So now the committee is a permanent part of the School of Social Work,” Meyer-Adams says. “We have a Curriculum Committee and a Diversity Committee, and they work very closely together on our undergraduate and graduate curricula. Both committees are elected to serve by their peers, and each committee includes graduate and undergraduate student representatives, so that all voices are heard as we work together on increasing equity, diversity and inclusion across our curriculum.”
Adds Melissa Dyo, “Other departments are looking to form standing diversity committees as well. It’s not just about making an agenda item – people in the college want to actually have this as part of the culture here. We’re talking about having each department designate a point person to initiate conversations with their faculty and staff about issues of admission, accessibility, recruitment and retention. It’s not just enough to recruit, it’s about how we can altogether help our students be successful.”