“Diversity is not only a numerical goal; there is a fluid progression that must be evaluated. Inclusion as a Strategy for Excellence, in the School of Medicine, is the recognition that the institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages, and includes diverse faculty, staff, students, patients, and suppliers. More than a short-term project or a narrow initiative, this comprehensive approach requires a fundamental transformation of the School’s culture by embedding and practicing inclusion in every effort, aspect, and level of the institution. The goal is to make inclusion a norm that is implemented and practiced.
The concept of Inclusion as a Strategy for Excellence within the School of Medicine is a departure from a simplistic definition of diversity to a more comprehensive, and omnipresent notion of inclusiveness that envelopes several ideologies. Inclusiveness and Excellence are interdependent, as opposed to the traditional perspective that separates the two concepts. To practice inclusiveness is a demonstration of excellence.
Our plan is to shift the responsibility for diversity and inclusiveness onto all administrators, faculty, staff,researchers, and students within the School of Medicine. This is in contrast to one unit or department shouldering the responsibility for diversity. A single department or person can guide the process, but every individual with the School, from the Dean to individual employees, assumes responsibility for change.
In effect, this will shift the School away from conceptualizing diversity solely as a numerical goal of diverse faculty, employees, vendors, and applicants to transforming the institution into a vibrant community that embeds the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan throughout the institution in multiple ways.
Our Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan throughout the institution includes demographics, policies, research, financial resources, leadership, hiring, organizational learning, organizational structure, marketing, outreach, technology, performance management, communications, promotion, assessment, and evaluation. This Plan employs a broad and inclusive definition of diversity that includes disability, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, race/ethnicity, nationality, and other social dimensions that are important for the School and academic medicine. The magnitude of inclusivity will impact faculty, staff, and students alike, and we can embed a more Diverse outlook onto the School of Medicine.”
– Greg Townsend, MD
Associate Dean for Diversity
Dr. Linda Duska Appointed Associate Dean for Clinical Research
Dr. Linda Duska has been appointed to the position of Associate Dean for Clinical Research, effective January 5, 2016. Dr. Duska is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, where she is fellowship director. Her research expertise is in clinical trials, particularly Phase I, and endometrial cancer. She is a member of the Faculty Senate and co-chair of the Committee on Women.
Previously, Dr. Duska served as Interim Associate Dean for Clinical Research. She will continue the work of supporting and enhancing all aspects of research and training in clinical investigation, including funding, space, compliance, and program development. This work is critical in carrying out the School of Medicine’s academic strategic plan and the Health System’s goal of increasing translational research.
Department of Medicine Chair Mitch Rosner announced on January 24 that DOM has created a new leadership position — associate chair for diversity and inclusion. He appointed Erika Ramsdale, MD, of the Division of Hematology-Oncology, to fill the new position. In an email distributed to the department January 24, Dr. Rosner said making the Department of Medicine “inclusive of all opinions and persons, as well as diverse in its make-up, is a key priority” for the leadership team. “While we have made some strides to improve the department in this regard, there is no doubt we have much work to do,” added Rosner. He said Dr. Ramsdale will help the department extend its diversity efforts, as well as integrate them with larger School of Medicine and University diversity initiatives.
About her new role, Dr. Ramsdale said: “I look forward to working with everyone in the department on enriching diversity and ensuring that everyone feels included, valued, and engaged. Our initial task will be to characterize in detail the current status of diversity and inclusion in the department, to help us set goals for improvement. We will be working on developing programs at multiple levels — departmental, institutional, and for the community — and integrating existing programs and resources into a larger framework.”
Dr. Ramsdale, an oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal malignancies, founded and directs the division’s Geriatric Oncology Clinic. A native of Wichita, Kansas, Dr. Ramsdale received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Kansas. She completed a residency in internal medicine and fellowships in both hematology-oncology and geriatric medicine at the University of Chicago. She also did a fellowship in medical ethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, part of U. Chicago’s School of Medicine. She joined the UVA faculty in 2013.
Dr. Ramsdale lives in Ivy with her husband and one-year-old son. In addition to spending time with her family, she enjoys hiking, knitting — and dancing Argentine tango!
Dr. Joel Anderson is the recipient of the 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. UVA Health System Award.
Established in 2013, the Dr. Martin Luther King University of Virginia Health System Award is presented annually to a faculty or staff member of the Health System who embodies Dr. Martin Luther King’s values and teachings, in cultural competence, health care disparities, or fostering an environment of inclusiveness, in accordance with the institution’s mission and values.
During Dr. Anderson’s time at the University of Virginia, he has consistently sought out opportunities to engage in activities and strategies related to diversity efforts. As a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Nursing from 2009 to 2012, he volunteered as a member of the School’s Diversity Committee. In 2010 Dr. Anderson played an active role as part of a grass-roots effort led by students, faculty, and staff to raise awareness of the concerns and experiences of the LGBTQ community following a series of teen suicides that garnered national attention. He was later invited by Dean Fontaine to serve as one of the School’s representatives on the Community MLK Celebration Planning Committee, a role in which he has continued to serve since joining the School of Nursing faculty in 2012.
In 2013 and 2014, Dr. Anderson collaborated in the organization and hosting of events related to nursing history. Dr. Anderson is currently working with Professor Barbra Mann Wall on a nursing history event highlighting the contributions of Black nurses during the Civil War through a screening and discussion of the up-coming PBS series ‘Mercy Street’.
Dr. Anderson’s program of research, regarding strategies for symptom management and caregiver support in dementia, explores health disparities among diverse populations. He and his colleagues were recently awarded a Change AGEnts Community Action grant to examine issues related to transitional care in racial/ethnic and sexual/gender minorities. He is involved in the development of an instrument to examine family quality of life in dementia and how this construct varies across populations, including African Americans and LGBTQ communities. Through his continuing diversity-related work at the University of Virginia, Dr. Anderson stands out as an exemplar of the ideals of Dr. King in terms of expanding cultural competence, addressing health care disparities, and fostering an environment of inclusiveness. Particularly, he has endeavored to expand the concept and perceptions of diversity while remaining true to the mission and values of the University of Virginia.