New administrative position to support inclusivity in UMN Medical School

The University of Minnesota Medical School is conducting a national search for its first vice dean of diversity and inclusion.

University Medical School buildings are seen from Washington Avenue during a rain storm on Tuesday, July 16.

Tony Saunders

University Medical School buildings are seen from Washington Avenue during a rain storm on Tuesday, July 16.

by Farrah Mina

In an effort to advance diversity, the University of Minnesota Medical School announced it will be creating a new administrative position for equity and inclusion.

Following the announcement earlier this month, the Medical School is conducting a national search for the position of vice dean of equity and inclusion, which is co-chaired by Michael Goh, vice president of equity and diversity, and Anne Joseph, Wexler professor of medicine and vice chair of the Office of Faculty Affairs and Diversity in the Department of Medicine. 

Goh and Joseph are currently seeking nominations for search committee members who will “represent the breadth and diversity of constituents and stakeholders inside the medical school and the broader university community,” Joseph said in an email. They aim to have the new vice dean position filled by spring 2020.

Many medical schools across the nation struggle to create a diverse student body, and the University’s Medical School is no exception. In the fall of 2018, about 80 percent of students in the school on the Twin Cities campus identified as white or unknown, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research. For the same semester, international students made up just under 3 percent of all Medical School students.

The vice dean will be responsible for implementing best practices for the recruitment, retention and promotion of faculty from underrepresented communities, Goh said.

According to Naomi McDonald, a spokesperson for the Medical School, the Medical School partners with the Office for Equity and Diversity to ensure search committees receive implicit bias training. Department chairs in the Medical School also receive a similar training in preparation for conducting faculty interviews, writing letters of recommendation and evaluating faculty member performance.

The new vice dean will also be expected to develop “culturally-responsive” curriculum that addresses existing health disparities, Meagan Pierluissi, a spokesperson for the Office of Equity and Diversity, said in an email.  

“Given the Medical School’s expanding reach across Minnesota, there is increasing attention to engaging best practices and scholarship related to working sensitively and effectively with diverse communities,” Pierluissi said.

According to Goh, the newly developed curriculum will be integrated into the undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral scholars, residency and fellowship training programs available.

“The position is crucial to the growing need and demand for highly skilled [diversity, equity and inclusion] professionals who can continue to transform the experience of students, staff, faculty, and community members across the University of Minnesota,” Goh said in the email.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story included comments about the University’s Medical School that have been removed. They were removed because of a misunderstanding between the Minnesota Daily and two previously quoted sources.