UC honored for diversity, inclusion

In addition to the university award, three colleges were also honored

The University of Cincinnati and three of its colleges have been honored with the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. In all, only 46 U.S. colleges and universities received the award.

As a HEED winner, UC will be highlighted in the magazine’s November issue. The publication will spotlight the Cincinnati Public School (CPS) Ambassador program, a collaboration between UC and CPS. The goal of the program is to increase college access and knowledge through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. It is the first of its kind that leverages peer-based learning. Nearly 90% of students in Cincinnati Public Schools are considered underrepresented. As part of UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here, the CPS Strong Pathway supports the readiness of these students, their access into the university and their success.

Crowd of diverse students cheer at a football game

UC has been recognized for its equity and inclusion with a 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

The university also has several summer programs and yearlong experiences to recruit high school students. The UC Scholars Academy was created five years ago to provide a summer collegiate experience to students. This program has expanded over the years to include a year-round experience. As a result, 100% of 12th grade 2020 UC Scholars participants applied to college.

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes 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, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. We look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.” 

In addition to the university’s HEED honors, three UC colleges are being recognized for their diversity efforts with HEED awards of their own. The awards recognize those colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

College of Allied Health Sciences

This is the second year that the College of Allied Health Sciences has won the HEED Award. Included in the college strategic plan is a goal of fostering a culture of inclusion and community to attract diverse students, faculty and staff, whose knowledge, skill and perspectives enhance their ability to provide health care, education and social services.

The Health Sciences Building on the University of Cincinnati Medical Campus

Health Sciences Building, home to the College of Allied Health Sciences. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

CAHS works in partnership with university admissions to reach out to students in both urban public and suburban schools with diverse student populations. Programs and events are offered to welcome and engage students at UC. One example of this: The college has offered a medical terminology course to senior students in a health pathways program at a nearby STEM high school. These students are able to obtain college credit for successful completion of the course while achieving a jump-start in college-level coursework in their areas of interest.

In an effort to improve retention and graduation rates for historically underrepresented and first-generation students, the college established the Connections mentorship program which is now in its 10th year.

“I am very proud that CAHS has received this recognition for its work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion,” says Monica Wilkins, director of diversity initiatives and recruitment for the college. “Our everyday efforts are part of an extended journey to creating a college culture that is safe, welcoming and inclusive to all.”

The CAHS Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council has been particularly focused in 2020 in carrying out the college’s “Call to Action,” which sets CAHS priorities and initiatives following the racial and social unrest of this past summer. The areas of focus are:

        1.      Embedding more equity and inclusion topics into the curriculum

        2.      Increased faculty and staff training and development

        3.      Student-centered engagement

        4.      Increased communications.

In addition, the council recommended and established the development of a diversity program inventory which lists all of the diversity-related programs, research, publications and efforts taking place throughout the college. This inventory will be published and shared in various formats with faculty, staff and students and updated annually.

College of Nursing

This is the sixth year in a row the College of Nursing has won the HEED Award.

The college uses extensive recruitment and retention efforts to increase the number of underrepresented and first-generation nursing students. By implementing lasting, sustainable initiatives that increase educational opportunities for talented and diverse students, it contributes to graduating a health care workforce that reflects the diversity of the country’s population.


Procter Hall, home of the UC College of Nursing. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

The college’s initiatives to accomplish its diversity, inclusion and equity goals range from established partnerships with several local high schools that serve a large percentage of underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged students to implementing several programs that support these students during their college experience.

“Our ultimate goal is to improve health care outcomes, reduce inequities and increase the diversity in the health care workforce,” says Greer Glazer, who has served as dean since 2012. “We are as committed as ever to leading the way in diversity and inclusion within nursing and health care education.”

Under Glazer’s leadership, the college adopted holistic admissions strategies that incorporate personal student characteristics and attributes to augment grade point average and test scores for admissions decisions. The process values intellect, life experiences, motivation and character, which exemplify the core values of the college. Candidates are selected using broad-based admission criteria to create a diverse student body.

Admissions data show that using the holistic admissions process increased ethnicity/race and gender diversity, as well as first-generation college offers. Of applicants who were admitted in 2020 under the holistic admissions review process, 45% would not have received an offer had admissions decisions considered only quantitative data. And the quality metrics for the college remain sound — the average GPA for admitted first-year students is 3.95, while the average ACT score is 26. For the last couple of years, the college has added multiple mini interviews — a series of short, structured interview stations used to assess noncognitive attributes important for professional success — to admissions strategies.

The College of Nursing also supports a wide variety of diversity and inclusion efforts outside of the admissions process as well. A Committee for Equity and Inclusive Excellence within the college sponsors several events throughout the year providing awareness and a platform for discussion among college faculty, staff, students and alumni. In addition, the college’s pipeline diversification efforts are represented by such programs as Leadership 2.0 and iLEAD, which are designed to support underrepresented individuals throughout their education.

The college’s diversity plan includes goals for increasing the diversity and retention of faculty, staff and students; ensuring cultural competency as a construct throughout the curriculum; and increasing scholarship activities on concerns related to diversity, cultural competence and health inequities.

James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy

This is the third year in a row that the UC James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy has won the HEED Award. The college established its Council on Diversity in 2003, inviting faculty, staff and students as well as representatives from retail and industry to participate in order to increase the pipeline of diverse applicants to the college, increase engagement and explore potential scholarship and other funding opportunities.

Exterior photos of Kowalewski Hall.

Kowalewski Hall, home to the UC James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

To complement the Council on Diversity, the college developed an ad-hoc committee called Diversity Advocates to develop a culture of belonging, increase learning opportunities for faculty and staff and increase diversity and inclusion activities and topics within the college’s curriculum. The committee developed a climate survey for faculty and staff and created subcommittees focusing on strategy, framework, curriculum mapping and continuing education. The committee consists of faculty and staff as well as students.  

Shortly after his arrival, Neil MacKinnon, College of Pharmacy dean, created a new shared position with Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. — director of equity and inclusion, currently held by Pat Achoe, a Kroger associate for 29 years in clinical pharmacy and pharmacy management. The position is co-funded by Kroger, where Achoe spends part of her time working on diversity training and recruitment. She chairs the college’s Council on Diversity, serves as adviser to the Student National Pharmaceutical Association and assists the college in meeting targets related to equity, inclusion and diversity as outlined in the college’s strategic plan, “We Are Pharmacy: Rx for the Future.”

“At the College of Pharmacy, we want to build a culture of belonging where our faculty and staff love to work and our students love to learn,” says Achoe. “We are constantly striving to build honest and trustworthy relationships, embrace the differences in our backgrounds and to be more conscious about our unconscious biases.”

Diversity and inclusion are embedded into the college’s strategic plan, with goals of improving recruitment and retention, assisting in admitting diverse students and providing support to the current students. According to Achoe, initiatives are designed to “embed diversity in the classroom, case studies and research so that students are well-equipped to practice diversity and inclusion as health care practitioners.”

In the past year, the college created a brochure entitled "Health Disparities in the LGBTQ+ Population" and consults the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States, on providing inclusive care and services. There is also a new LGBTQ Studies undergraduate certificate available through the UC College of Arts and Sciences that explores the experiences, identities and cultural and political contributions of LGBTQ people in the United States and around the world.

Featured image: Pat Achoe, middle, with students. Photo/Colleen Kelley, UC Creative Services

Next Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is classified as a Research 1 institution by the Carnegie Commission and is ranked in the National Science Foundation's Top-35 public research universities. UC's graduate students and faculty investigate problems and innovate solutions with real-world impact. Next Lives Here.

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