Students in the School of Public Health-Bloomington are exposed to faculty and staff that reflect the diversity in our community. While SPH-B prides itself in having a faculty racial/ethnic makeup more diverse than the state's demographics (percentage wise), we constantly strive to increase representation. Additionally, SPH-B students come from many cultural backgrounds, geographic locations (both domestic and international), and social identities. The following student demographic charts will highlight race, gender/biological sex, first-generation status, and veteran status.
a. Major 2020 Initiatives
SPH-B has been proactive with programmatic, research-oriented, and both concrete actions and symbolic initiatives dedicated to diversity. For example, in June 2020 SPH-B released a press release highlighting the school's action to honor the diverse deans with which SPH-B has populated the academy nationwide. This new initiative, suggested by Dean David Allison, updated the traditional 'Dude Wall', which is found in many universities' hallways and board rooms. For student outreach, the Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion and its interns hosted a Black Health & Wellness Fair on February 27, 2020 at the Neal Marshall Black Culture Center as part of Black History Month programming. OSDI also collaborated with the Asian Culture Center for the webinar COVID-19 EXPOSED: How the Coronavirus Outbreak Reveals Racism and Xenophobia for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month programming.
Furthermore, SPH-B hosted programs and virtual events that stressed the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent racial and social unrest our nation witnessed in May and June 2020. On June 18, 2020 the School hosted COVID-19: Health Disparities, Communities, and Discrimination, a conversation moderated by Dr. Maresa Murray, featuring special guests from across academia, public health and medicine. Throughout 2020 SPH-B faculty, the Office of Public Health Practice, and Career Services collaborated with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) on various projects. We designed a cultural competency training for the state's COVID-19 contact tracers, and we hosted an ISDPH career panels to aid in increasing diverse representation within the ISDH workforce. The latter is an initiative that will continue into 2021. These programs targeted students, staff, alumni and community stakeholders alike.
Despite budgetary challenges imposed by the pandemic, SPH-B has still accomplished the following:
- We have hired seven new tenure-track faculty members from underrepresented minority groups and have increased the diversity of our Dean's Alliance, our advisory board, which now includes five African-American advisors. Thus, our School has not wavered in its commitment to hiring faculty members from underrepresented minority groups.
- Dr. Murray is leading a task force to provide recommendations for group-based diversity and inclusion and to pursue a research-based approach to awareness of racism and violence, including gun violence, as public health issues. Some of those groups include racial, sexual, and gendered minorities.
- We have been awarded two grants by IU's Racial Justice Research Fund that will help us better support underrepresented minority students: A Pilot Program to Build Capacity for Biomedical Research Among Black and Latinx Students Attending MSI/HBCUs, led by Dr. Karo Omodior, and Racial Discrimination, Resilience, Suicide Prevention, and Mental Health: Exploring Innovative Pathways to Structural Competency on University Campuses, a multi-racial cross-disciplinary research initiative with Drs. Jon Agley, Yunyu Xiao, and Maresa Murray.
- This past fall semester the SPH-B Academic Council updated its by-laws and membership requirements for its Committee on Diversity & Inclusion. As a core function, this Committee contributes to the evaluation and planning activities of the School on matters related to diversity and inclusion by providing input to the Presiding Officer.
b. Our Investments
Our investments into diversity, equity and inclusion are exemplified in three critical areas:
- Fiscal/Budgetary. E.g. Invested in SPH-B programming, personnel, hires
- Time. E.g. Invested in recruiting efforts, student advising, program planning
- Talent/Expertise. E.g. professional development of our professionals
For example, throughout 2020 Dean Allison provided 110 books covering anti-racism, women in science, and other culturally relevant topics for SPH-B employees and Dean’s Alliance members. SPH-B invests heavily in its Distinguished Colloquium Speaker Series. The series brings national leaders to the Bloomington throughout the academic year. These events, which are free and open to the public, highlight key topics and contemporary issues in public health. OSDI recorded 126 contact hours of facilitating cultural competency workshops to SPH-B classes, campus and community partners, and virtual/Zoom calls with prospective students.
Clinical Associate Professor Maresa Murray was appointed Assistant Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Organizational Climate In August 2020. She previously worked as the Dean's Administrative Fellow for Culture and Climate. As Murray moves forward in the role of Assistant Dean, she will lead and coordinate a task force that will provide recommendations for group-based diversity and inclusion. Moreover, SPH-B faculty recruitment and hiring teams have invested countless hours and person-power in our search to increase the number of URM candidates in our faculty pool and ultimately hiring these scholars. On average, SPH-B personnel devoted 58 hours per candidate in our hiring processes last year (total of 1,972 hours).
The School continues to invest in its OVPDEMA scholarship partnership with Hudson & Holland Scholars Program (HHSP). SPH-B currently funds over 100 HHSP students who are public health majors. These undergraduate scholarship funds exceed $100,000 and further demonstrates the School’s commitment of supporting URM students. Of the current 134 Hudson & Holland scholars enrolled in SPH-B and who are pre-SPH, 102 (76.1%) were eligible to receive fall semester funding. An additional $57,144 have gone to support URM doctoral students.
a. Recruitment & Retention.
We have some exceptional personnel working to recruit and diversify our student population and faculty. SPH-B leadership has continuously promoted our faculty positions and we have witnessed a growth in faculty from diverse cultural backgrounds and academic/research backgrounds. In terms of student recruitment, we are currently seeking opportunities to increase SPH-B majors who identify as Hispanic/Latinx. In 2021, our Student Services team is meeting with several stakeholders who identify as Hispanic and/or work closely with this community. Our hope is that we can formulate a strategic plan to increase the student population. Our efforts from these planning sessions will help us lay a groundwork for recruiting other URM students. SPH-B is also investing in future public health researchers and scholars. The Equity and Justice Scholarship/Fellowship was established in 2020 by the School's Dean's Alliance in light of the murder of Black American community members. The gifts from this fund will support scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Public Health-Bloomington campus who are studying or have demonstrated an interest in public health topics focusing on stigmatization, stress, violence prevention, and underrepresentation in minority and vulnerable populations. The inaugural Equity and Justice Scholarship/Fellowship will be awarded in 2021. Although this scholarship is not fully endowed, donations are still being sought and our Advancement Team is working diligently to secure further funding for this exciting opportunity.
In our 2019 report to OVPDI, one challenge to our recruitment and retention of students we identified is the limited amount of scholarship funds we give to first-year students. One solution we identified is to work with Advancement and see if some of our existing fund agreements can be reworded or expanded to increase the pool of applicants and recipients. Strategic moves like these will potentially help yield more direct admits and students from low SES and URM backgrounds. Additionally, the majority of requests SPH-B—and specifically the Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion—receives focus on what funding we can provide for students' emergencies and travel (i.e., to conferences, poster sessions, etc. pre-COVID). Many times, these specific requests are not fulfilled via scholarships; however, many students are still requesting assistance along with tuition. Non-resident graduate students and international students are very vocal about their financial concerns since they pay a higher tuition compared to Indiana residents. Pay equity and retention for staff is another challenge. While achieving pay equity is a goal for the campus, we are sensitive to it internally. Competitive salaries and packages also allow us to recruit professional staff members from underrepresented populations. The majority of SPH-B staff identify as White. Whereas we have increased the number of URM in faculty roles, we are also committed to increasing the diversity among our staff.
Firstly, a recommendation from the SPH-B Academic Council's Committee on Diversity & Inclusion is to continue with climate assessment for the school. Despite having to postpone our listening tours for 2020, we are going to move forward with virtual listening sessions with specific populations and groups within SPH-B the 2021-2022 academic year. The purpose of these sessions is to collect qualitative data about the experiences of our students and personnel. It will also assist us in our next objective: completing another climate survey.
Secondly, Assistant Dean Murray is charged with assessing climate within SPH-B and is planning to facilitate workshops on diversity and leadership for SPH-B faculty, administrators, and staff.
Currently, a diversity session focused on the awareness of unintentionally racist or biased communication and behavior toward Blacks/African Americans is slated for mid-February 2021 with the SPH-B Deans, Chairs, and other selected personnel. Similar additional sessions will follow with various staff, faculty, and administrative leaders.
As mentioned previously, 2020 was supposed to be the year where we revisited our climate assessments. Due to COVID-19 and physical distancing, we postponed our "listening tours" and meetings with student stakeholders from various identity groups. A challenge moving forward is how to replicate these sessions and focus groups within a virtual space. There is concern of anonymity and confidentiality involved. Nonetheless, it can be accomplished.
a. In October 2020, SPH-B updated its Diversity Plan. One measure we are currently undertaking to assess our progress in faculty recruitment and retention is tracking SPH-B faculty hiring trends over the last 10 years. We have specifically started tracking our representation of URM faculty from 2010 to the present. We fully recognize that this will be an on-going priority for years to come. We celebrate our accomplishments and look to capitalize on these efforts in the future. SPH-B is a school that encompasses STEM disciplines, health sciences, and behavioral sciences. The school utilizes the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) definition of underrepresented minorities (American Indian or Alaskan Native, Black or African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Pacific Islander) when focusing on inclusive hiring pools and faculty recruitment. A key part of identifying our progress is to compare our representation to national trends and comparing SPH-B faculty representation to other CEPH-accredited Schools of Public Health.
b. Other measures to assess our DEI goals include reviewing student enrollment data—for undergraduate and graduate students—including URM admittance rates, yield rates, and successful matriculation. This data will be gathered via University Institutional Research and Reporting (UIRR) and enrollment data from IU Office of Admissions (e.g. Tableau). We will also consult with our Director of Degree Administration, Director of Recruitment, and Director of Graduate Admissions and Enrollment For example, every student recruitment the Director of Recruitment provides a demographic profile of undergraduate SPH-B admits (i.e. SES background, race/ethnicity). The OSDI Director tracks participation of prospective public health graduate students in the University Graduate School initiative "Getting You Into IU" (GU2IU). Moreover, tracking the persistence rates and retention rates of our URM students—particularly those in graduate programs—will allow us to identify how we can better serve students. We already collect this trend data for CEPH accreditation (e.g. MPH completion rates). It will also help us identify any specific populations (i.e. women, low SES, international) at-risk of not successfully completing a degree program.