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Fall Campus Read and Diversity & Inclusion Programming

The new academic year has begun, although the pandemic’s persistent grip on our nation continues to challenge how we work, learn, study, engage and interact. In a typical year, we would have come together as a campus community for a series of events associated with Convocation. This is no typical year, as we all know too well.

The Graduate School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences opted to have virtual ceremonies to begin the year. Convocation, Investiture, the School of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony and the LGBTQ annual luncheon have been postponed.

Despite the disruption to our annual traditions and the calendar, it remains one of our highest priorities to bring together members of our academic community for exploration and discussion of ideas that challenge us, open our minds, broaden our perspectives, advance our institution’s mission, vision and values and, ultimately, create deeper connections among all of us who work and learn at the Medical School. 

Given the tone and tenor of the national discourse, it is incumbent on academic communities like ours to serve as safe spaces for timely conversations on issues of profound importance, such as racism, gender equity, sexual orientation, health care disparities and diversity & inclusion, among others. 

To help align and anchor our diversity and inclusion programming, we will have a 2020 “Campus Read:” the book “How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi, PhD.

Many of you may be familiar with Dr. Kendi’s book, which a recent New York Times review called “a 21st-century manual of racial ethics.” Dr. Kendi, an award-winning author and one of the nation’s leading scholars and historians of racism, recently joined Boston University as a professor and founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. We invite all members of the UMMS community to read Dr. Kendi’s book for the context it will provide for our upcoming series of campus conversations.

We have purchased a limited number of electronic copies of How to Be an Antiracist,” which can be read on a Nook eReader (the eReader is available as a free download from the Barnes & Noble website). Should you be interested in receiving a free copy of Dr. Kendi’s e-book to read via Nook, please email the Diversity and Inclusion Office at Diversity@umassmed.edu for further instructions. 

The campus conversations will occur over a three-week period between mid-October and early November. These sessions will focus on key issues, including LGBTQ equity, health equity, gender equity, structural racism and diversity & inclusion.  

A Conversation on Gender Equity 
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 21
Session Lead: Mary Ellen Lane, PhD, Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences & Interim Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs 
Invited Guest Speaker: Gayle Capozzalo, Executive Director of The Equity Collaborative
View the recording.
Download the slides.
Take the feedback survey.

A Campus Conversation on Health Equity and Eliminating Health Disparities 
Date: Thursday, Oct. 22
Session Leads: Jeroan Allison, MD, MS, Professor and Chair, PQHS, and Sharina Person, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair, PQHS
View the recording. 
Download the slides.
Take the feedback survey.

A Campus Conversation on Recruiting, Mentoring and Retaining Diversity in Science and Medicine
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 28 
Session Lead: Peter Cruz-Gordillo, UMMS Student Trustee
View the recording.
Download the slides.
Take the feedback survey.

A Campus Conversation on LGBTQ Equity
Date: Thursday, Oct. 29
Session Lead: Kenneth Peterson, PhD, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor of Nursing; Co-chair, UMMS Committee on Equal Opportunity and Diversity 
View the recording.
Download the slides.
Take the feedback survey.

A Campus Conversation on Faculty Diversity  
Date: Monday, Nov. 2
Session Lead: Milagros Rosal, PhD, Vice Provost for Health Equity and Professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
View the recording.
Download the slides.
Take the feedback survey.

A Campus Conversation on “How to Be an Antiracist” 
Date: Thursday, Nov. 5
Panelists: Campus Conversation Session Leads
Guest Facilitator: Michael Hyter, Chief Diversity Officer, Korn Ferry 
View the recording. 
Download the slides.
Take the feedback survey.


These conversations will build common understanding and momentum for the fifth UMMS Diversity Summit, which will be held in mid-November. The Diversity Summit will be organized jointly by Office of the Chancellor, the Office of the Provost and the Diversity & Inclusion Office and will feature thematic presentations followed by focused discussions. The focus will be on concrete actions necessary to achieve institutional goals, some of which are outlined in the IMPACT 2025 Strategic Plan, including recruiting a more diverse faculty, staff and student population; emerging as a leader in health equity; and propagating an enhanced social mission. 

The Campus Read, the series of campus-wide conversations and the Diversity Summit align with the prioritization of diversity, equity and inclusion as fundamental elements in IMPACT 2025. Before the end of the calendar year, the five strategic planning working groups will reconvene to reflect and report on the progress achieved this year and to refine goals for the 2021 calendar year.

We believe this important programming will offer perspectives that are illuminating and enriching and will allow members of the UMMS community to engage substantively on complex topics. We would like to thank the planning committee and session leads for its thoughtful work and support and look forward to seeing many of you on Zoom, participating in these important and exciting virtual events.