The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy hosted its first symposium addressing the practice of leveraging diversity for innovation. The “Art and Science of Diversity and Inclusion” was held at the Carolina Inn on Friday, Sept. 8.
Alumni and current students from underrepresented backgrounds provided their perspectives. The event was organized by the Office of Innovative Leadership and Diversity and the Office of Student and Curricular Affairs on behalf of the School.
The goals of the symposium were
- to review the research supporting the need for diversity in pharmacy education;
- to inspire creative thought around innovative diversity education, research and practice;
- to describe the infrastructure needed to achieve inclusion, identify challenges, prioritize strategies that would be most useful; and
- to create methods for implementation and assessment.
After a welcome from provost and former dean Bob Blouin, Pharm.D., the participants enjoyed lunch during a student perspectives panel. In the afternoon, they split into groups for discussion on effective diversity initiatives for the School moving forward.
Vince Williams, Pharm.D., an alumnus of the School, said he was proud that the number-one pharmacy school in the country invests time and financial resources to lead in the areas of diversity and inclusion.
“It was important for me to experience that school leadership genuinely valued the feedback from underrepresented minority alumni, students and faculty. The afternoon working groups really allowed us to provide detailed input and prioritize strategies for future implementation,” Williams said.
Carla White, assistant dean of innovative leadership and diversity at the School, said the next steps are to incorporate and measure relevant and contemporary strategies to drive diversity and inclusion.
“Without this we are not innovating at our full potential,” White said.