College of Nursing wins prestigious award for its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

HEED award badge

UC College of Nursing’s efforts to create opportunities for underrepresented students and graduating nurses who reflect the broader U.S. population have been nationally recognized for a seventh consecutive year.

The college again received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, reinforcing the continued success of the college’s strategic community partnerships, holistic admissions practices, student support programs and faculty and staff engagement initiatives.

"We remain as committed as ever to leading the way in diversity and inclusion within nursing and health care education,” says Denise Gormley, interim dean. "Our goal is to improve health care outcomes, reduce inequities and increase the diversity in the health care workforce.”

Research shows increased diversity and cultural competency in the health care workforce helps improve outcomes for racial/ethnic minority groups, which are at a disproportionate risk of being uninsured, lacking access to care and suffering worse outcomes from preventable and treatable conditions.

The college has partnerships with several local high schools that serve a large population of underrepresented racial/ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged students. These relationships serve to introduce students to health professions and diversify the college’s student body. The college offers educational and social support programs, including Leadership 2.0 and iLead, for these students throughout their college experience.

The college also has 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 2021 under the holistic admissions review process, 36% 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 4.04, while the average ACT score is 27. 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’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts also extend to faculty and staff with goals to increase the diversity and retention of faculty, staff and students; ensure cultural competency throughout the curriculum; and increase scholarship activities related to diversity, cultural competence and health inequities. The college recently hired Ann Gakumo, PhD, as the Greer Glazer Endowed Chair for DEI. The position represents one of the first of its kind nationwide in a nursing school. In addition, the college’s Committee for Equity and Inclusive Excellence sponsors events to boost awareness and offer a platform for discussion among college faculty, staff, students and alumni.

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual Health Professions HEED Award, the College of Nursing was featured in the December 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.