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Campus Conversation focuses on increasing diversity of faculty

Milagros Rosal: ‘Diversity is at the very core of our mission.’

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

November 04, 2020
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Milagros Rosal, PhD, moderated the discussion on increasing recruitment of diverse faculty.

The UMass Medical School Campus Conversation on Faculty Diversity, held on Monday, Nov. 2, provided an opportunity for the UMMS community to learn about and provide input to improve the institution’s efforts to increase recruitment and retention of diverse faculty.

The interactive session was moderated by Milagros Rosal, PhD, professor of population & quantitative health sciences and vice provost for health equity, a newly created role she recently assumed.

“Diversity is at the very core of our mission. Our goal is to become a leading medical school in recruitment and retention of diverse faculty,” said Dr. Rosal. “This is a very ambitious goal and we are very committed to it, but it is going to require involvement from everyone at all levels of the institution. All of us have to be united in this mission.”

Small breakout groups comprising the more than 100 participating faculty, students and staff discussed two questions: “What are the recruitment practices that mainly favor recruitment of people with homogeneous backgrounds,” and, “What can each of us do differently to change those practices to expand the diversity of our faculty candidate pool?”

Common themes emerged in the report from each group such as to take a proactive rather than passive approach to recruiting diverse candidates, spreading the word about commitment to diversity as well as scientific and educational excellence, and expanding the definition of qualifications beyond metrics of test scores and publications to incorporate a holistic view of what candidates bring to the community.

“We should be more proactive and purposeful in our hiring, plan ahead, see if we can identify good candidates for certain types of positions so we’re prepared when openings arise,” said Mark Johnson, MD, PhD, the Maroun Semaan Chair in Neurosurgery, chair and professor of neurological surgery.

“We’re using our old networks to recruit faculty and we need to explore new networks, for example, taking more of a regional approach and targeting metropolitan areas, in particular schools that we know have diverse graduates,” said Joan Vitello, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Nursing.

“On an individual level, there's the phrase that we've all heard, to think globally but act locally. Any individual can promote a welcoming environment and stop activities that don’t,” said Anthony Imbalzano, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology.

“We should challenge ourselves to look into our implicit biases when looking at the applications, interviewing and making decisions about who to hire, while avoiding tokenizing members of underrepresented minorities,” said Auralyd Padilla Candelario, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry.

With thanks to all, Rosal noted the diversity initiatives already in place at UMMS that form the foundation for expansion and improvement.

“Thanks, everyone, for all of your wonderful work and commitment,” said Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. “We recognize that we’re right at the beginning of this effort and we’re going to need everybody working together to get this done.”

Dean Flotte leads the UMMS Faculty Diversity Task Force, which was formed earlier this year and is co-led by Rosal. The task force has recently launched a national search for a visionary and dynamic leader to serve alongside them as vice provost for faculty affairs.

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UMMS diversity and inclusion programming to feature campus read, community conversations, diversity summit
Milagros Rosal named inaugural vice provost for health equity at UMMS
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