As part of a challenge to Health Sciences Center faculty, staff and students, School of Public Health and Information Sciences dean Craig H. Blakely, PhD, MPH, urged the audience to think more about diversity as it relates to faculty and student recruitment.
“We must believe that diversity matters,” he said.
He spoke about the need for schools to become more proactive in building a diverse applicant pool for faculty positions during a Lunch & Learn presentation on March 9 hosted by the Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity & Inclusion.
“It is not a question of hoping for some diverse candidates to apply for job openings — it’s a question of proactively seeking a diverse pool of applicants. That proactivity is a part of establishing a climate that is supportive of diversity,” Blakely noted.
As the faculty becomes more diverse, he says, this in turn will affect the diversity of the student body who then graduate and become highly-qualified professionals and potential faculty members. Blakely refers to this cycle as one that can build the reputation of an institution. Of the 10 new faculty members who joined the School of Public Health and Information Sciences since 2014, Blakely says half are African-American.
Blakely also highlighted other efforts of his school to engage the community and address health disparities, particularly in West Louisville. He pointed to the importance of community-based participatory research and initiatives of the Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP), which recently moved to the Louisville Central Community Centers offices in West Louisville. OPHP is cultivating partnerships and engagement through the adolescent diversion project, health literacy initiative and social norming campaign related to youth violence.