Office expounds institutional goals of diversity, inclusion
By Alicia Adams
The newly expanded Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Equal Opportunity, headed by Kimel Hodges, Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion and Equal Opportunity, was formally launched Sept. 30 by top UT Southwestern Medical Center officials who explained that the department has undergone more than a name change.
Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, told employees gathered for a celebratory launch event that the new name reflects the office’s expanded focus. Formerly called the Office of Equal Opportunity and Minority Affairs, the expansion is an outgrowth of the strategic priorities Dr. Podolsky identified in February 2009.
He said that enhancing diversity and creating a culture of inclusion are high priorities not only because they are moral imperatives, but because they are essential to excellence and to achieving UT Southwestern’s full potential as an academic medical center.
Details about the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Equal Opportunity will be available at these campus events:
- Lunch and Learn: Diversity and Inclusion – Oct. 16, noon-1 p.m., Eugene McDermott Plaza lecture hall, D1.602
- Lunch and Learn: Equal Opportunity – Oct. 30, noon-1 p.m., Eugene McDermott Plaza lecture hall, D1.502
Enhanced diversity and a culture of inclusion will help UT Southwestern attract the wide range of faculty and staff needed to deliver high quality, culturally sensitive, patient-centric clinical care, as well as innovative education, training, and scientific research. The office’s expanded mission to encompass staff diversity complements the focus on student diversity through the Office of Minority Student Affairs and on faculty diversity through the Office of Faculty Diversity and Development.
“Organizations are shifting their views on diversity and inclusion. Today’s message is positive and reflective of the diversity of our world, going beyond race and gender,” said Ms. Hodges, who joined UT Southwestern in September 2012. “The new name better reflects our mission, supports our strategic priorities, and confirms and conveys our institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, internally and externally, as well as sustaining the office’s longstanding role of ensuring compliance with equal opportunity mandates.”
The office’s goals and focus include:
- Developing and communicating a shared understanding of how diversity and inclusion will help UT Southwestern achieve inclusive excellence.
- Encouraging a workplace that respects differences and recognizes the unique contributions of individuals – a place where people feel valued and are actively engaged.
- Partnering with the Office of Faculty Diversity and Development, the Office of Minority Student Affairs, the University Hospitals & Clinics, Purchasing, and Human Resources to create programs and initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity.
To accomplish its mission, the staff of the office will conduct trend analyses based on equal opportunity and employee satisfaction data, conduct focus groups, celebrate heritage and cultural awareness on campus, and continue to promote the Historically Underutilized Business program. One of the first initiatives will be the creation of a Diversity Council.
“There will be many opportunities for employees to become involved in strategy sessions, focus groups, and the implementation of strategies designed to achieve our goals related to diversity and inclusion,” Ms. Hodges said. “This department recognizes we cannot achieve our goals without the valued input of employees and the knowledge they have about our organizational needs and climate. Inclusion leads to engagement, and engagement is essential for excellence.”
Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery Jr., M.D. Distinguished Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.
Hospitals & Clinics
Dr. Bruce Meyer, Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs
Arnim Dontes, Executive Vice President for Business Affairs
Dr. Byron Cryer, Associate Dean for Faculty Diversity and Development
Dr. William Behrendt, Vice President for Human Resources
Student Minority Affairs
Dr. Shawna Nesbitt, Associate Dean for Minority Student Affairs
Dr. Cryer holds the John C. Vanatta III Professorship.