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Our Commitments

At the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH), we believe that health is a human right. We are at a pivotal moment and have much work to do to become the school we want to be: A powerful advocate for equity and racial justice on our campus, in higher education, and in our communities across the country.

We are taking the following action steps now to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at SPH to become an anti-racist community. Our collective schoolwide work will evolve as strategy and planning efforts continue and this website will keep you informed about updates and progress along the way.

To begin, we will accelerate our actions within three critical commitment areas:

  1. Equitable systems and inclusive culture
  2. Talent
  3. Education and training

The current list of commitments and short-term actions below is a starting point and far from being final. Long-term actions will require more listening and learning.

All of us — students, staff, faculty, and alumni — have ideas about how to move forward. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with your division head, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lauren Eldridge, and/or share your comments through this online form.

NOTE: Due to the nature and scope of this work, several of the items below may need to adjust at a future date to align with the final SPH strategic plan. Those items are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Status Key

Status: Completed

Status: On time

Status: Time shifted

Status: Action paused or significantly restructured

Status report on our progress as of August 3, 2020.

Equitable Systems and Inclusive Culture

Goal: Develop sustainable and anti-racist organizational structures to drive change and accountability in the school as a whole and in each academic division.

Action 1:
Develop a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic plan for SPH. Background: In spring 2020, SPH Associate Director of DEI Lauren Eldridge began a process to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts at SPH. A committee was developed to advance that process in consultation with Strategic Diversity Initiatives. This committee is also considering ways to conduct more formal information gathering of SPH faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Action lead: Associate Director of DEI, DEI Strategic Planning Committee, Dean, Associate Deans, Division Heads
: The target date for a final plan is spring 2021, with drafts of the strategic planning document available for review in fall 2020

Status: Timing shifted

The strategic DEI planning committee meets monthly, and sub-committees have been formed that focus on faculty, staff, students, and communications. A draft will be available for schoolwide review in spring 2021.

Status: Action restructured

Strategic Diversity Initiatives (SDI), our consulting partner in this planning, will begin a comprehensive climate assessment in September 2020 with a goal to complete in mid-fall. The assessment will focus on students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and will center racial equity.

Action 2*:
Support SPH DEI efforts with more staffing and resources. Initially, this will consist of adding a full-time staff person to support Associate Director of DEI Lauren Eldridge. (Note: Timing of all new hires is dependent on University decisions related to the current hiring freeze; more information about the U’s decision is expected in summer 2020). Longer term efforts include additional graduate assistant positions and the discussion item below. The numbers and roles of positions will be determined based on recommendations from the DEI strategic plan and in consultation with the associate director of DEI.

Action lead: Dean, Chief of Staff, Chief Administrative Officer/Chief Financial Officer (CAO/CFO), SPH Human Resources Consultant, Associate Director of DEI
Timing: Update and next action steps by September 2020

  • For Discussion*: Create a position and conduct a national search for an Associate Dean for DEI (specific title to be determined). Seek input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
    Action lead: Dean, Associate Director of DEI, Division Heads, Chief of Staff, CAO/CFO
    Timing: October 2020 (decision made on position)

Status: On time

SPH requested an exception to the U of M hiring freeze. Our request was granted on July 31. In August, we launched a search for a full-time DEI coordinator who will support our work and report to Associate Director for DEI Lauren Eldridge. The search committee is conducting interviews in September and plans to make a final hiring decision in October.

Action 3*:
Form a DEI Action Alignment group that will organize efforts and ensure alignment and accountability for all actions. Appoint primary contacts in each division and schoolwide units to assure coordination across the school.

Action lead: Dean, Associate Director of DEI, Division Heads and Administrators, Chief of Staff, with invitations to the SPH Health Equity Work Group and Equity Diversity Inclusion Team (EDIT)
Timing: Appoint contacts by August 2020; Ongoing with regular progress updates

Status: Complete

The DEI Action Alignment group has been formed and includes representation from all SPH divisions and schoolwide units.

Status: On time

The group will begin meeting in fall 2020 to begin aligning DEI efforts across the school.

Action 4:
Evaluate all SPH policies with an equity lens and eliminate barriers for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, and other marginalized individuals and groups.

Action lead: Chief of Staff, Dean, Division Heads and Administrators, Associate Deans and Administrators responsible for policies
Timing: Ongoing with regular progress updates starting in October 2020

Status: On time

An initial assessment of school policies has been conducted to support a sustainable platform for policy creation and maintenance. Responsible school policy leaders will meet in late August to set time tables. Planning with U of M partners continues for creation of a pilot collegiate equity lens policy review approach.

Action 5:
Review and take measures to ensure supplier diversity.

Action lead: CAO/CFO, Division Administrators
Timing: Initial assessment in August 2020 with anticipated regular updates

Status: On time

Snapshot of School of Public Health spending with women and minority vendors obtained from Purchasing Services.

Action 6:
Funding for DEI initiatives will be a key SPH philanthropic priority. We will immediately allocate existing philanthropic funds and seek to raise additional funds to support recruitment and retention of students who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Ongoing philanthropic funding will be directed to critical initiatives that support a diverse, equitable, and inclusive academic experience for all students at SPH. These initiatives include but are not limited to: Student scholarships, graduate assistantships, mentor programming, funding for student groups, resources for recruitment, professional development, support for entering the workforce, and continuing workforce education.

Action lead: Dean, Chief Development Officer, Division Heads
Timing: Immediate and ongoing

Status: On time

Partnered with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation to advance our shared goal that all people have the support and resources needed to reach their full health potential culminating in Associate Professor Rachel Hardeman being named the first Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity.

Initiated comprehensive scholarship awarding process audit. Completion of the audit will inform process improvement moving forward.

Engaged with multiple corporate donors surrounding support for Dr. Hardeman’s work. Initiated conversations with the SPH campaign cabinet and alumni board to align board efforts with SPH DEI commitments.


Goal: Increase the diversity of SPH faculty and staff through recruitment, hiring, and retention of faculty and staff who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

NOTE: As of May 8, 2020, the University has frozen most new hires. It has made some exceptions for searches before June, and the University will consider continuing, revising, or lifting the freeze in July. Although we do not know what hiring will be allowed, we will proceed with developing our specific actions, and where possible, seek exceptions.

Action 7*:
Assess and improve the implicit bias training, position descriptions, active recruitment strategies, and hiring and onboarding processes to reduce bias, maximize diverse pools, and increase hiring and retention of faculty and staff who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Assess and create specific hiring goals informed but not limited by, affirmative action goals from the U of M Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Action lead: Assistant Director of Human Resources, Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, search committee chairs and members, and hiring managers (for staff positions)
Timing: Immediate and ongoing with regular progress updates, including establishment of specific goals, starting in September 2020

Status: On time

Initial review of faculty and staff diversity data and hiring processes has occurred. An August meeting is scheduled to explore how the work of the strategic planning committee, divisions, faculty affairs, and human resources should best align for short- and long-term progress.

Action 8:
As a next step in equity pay adjustment, the Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs will create a standing Salary Equity Review Committee (SERC) to evaluate all faculty pay annually.

Action lead: Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs
Timing: Spring 2021 implementation

Status: On time

Information is being gathered. (NOTE: the associate dean for faculty affairs began her position on July 1)

Education and Training

Goal: Increase the representation of students who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color and those from other marginalized communities; develop SPH core curricula in health equity, including anti-racism.

Action 9*:
Develop and implement recruitment strategies to reach more prospective applicants who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color — including relationship building with affinity group student organizations and institutions that primarily serve students who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color — and participation in diversity-specific recruitment events. Create outreach initiatives to deliver admissions resources to those from marginalized communities.

Action lead: Director of Recruitment, Program Directors, Program Coordinators
Timing: For 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle

Status: On time

Review of student diversity data and admissions trends has occurred. Discussions and planning for additional diverse recruitment strategies are being held.

Action 10*:
Review policies that act as barriers to admission for Black, Indigenous, and students of color — especially the availability, development, and award of scholarships and other financial assistance. Require holistic application review training, including implicit biases and anti-racist admissions practices, for all members of student admissions committees across the school.

Action lead: Director of Recruitment, Chief Development Officer, Program Coordinators, CAO/CFO, Division Administrators
Timing: For 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle

Status: On time

Work is underway to inventory scholarships, awarding processes, utilization, and stewardship.

SPH has eliminated the GRE for the 2020-2021 application cycle for all degree programs.

Action 11*:
Assemble an advisory group to the SPH Education Policy Committee (EPC), which includes students, faculty, alumni, and community partners, to develop and recommend revisions to the required curriculum.

Action lead: Associate Dean of Education, EPC Chair
Timing: Assemble advisory group during summer 2020

Status: Timing shifted to early fall 2020

At the beginning stages of assembling advisory groups.

Action 12*:
Explore and then require DEI training for all SPH faculty, staff, and students that aligns with our values and provides the community with tools and language to make our community more justice centered.

Action lead: Faculty Consultative Committee, P&A Senate, Staff Association, Student Senate, Dean, Associate Director of DEI, Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, Chief of Staff, Division Heads, Division Administrators
Timing: Recommendations for required training by October 2020; Implementation begins in January 2021

Status: Timing shifted

A brief survey of faculty and staff to understand the participation in and application of diversity training has been developed and will be revised by consultative groups. More information is being sought regarding a possible U of M required training similar to that arising out of the President’s Initiative for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct.

Status: On time

Associate Director of DEI Lauren Eldridge presented a workshop on race and racism in Minnesota for all incoming students at the SPH New Student Orientation on August 26. View the recording.

In consultation with the U of M College of Education and Human Development, we have designed anti-racist pedagogical training for SPH instructors. Training will be implemented in fall 2020.Staff training will be the next area of focus.

Action 13:
Require SPH leaders (Dean, Division Heads, Associate Deans, and administrative leaders who report to the Dean) to complete the University’s equity and diversity certificate program within the next 12 months if they have not already done so.

Action: Dean, Division Heads, Associate Deans, and administrative leaders who report to the Dean
Timing: June 2021 (based on availability of OED certificate training)

Status: Timing shifted

Currently 1 of 11 senior leaders have completed the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) certificate program, and the others are on the OED mailing list for future class offerings. Due to limited offerings and increased demand for these courses, timing will have to be shifted. Meanwhile, additional opportunities to increase learning and growth of anti-racism and how to become better leaders for equity are happening and being sought out.

Planning is underway for a day-long leadership retreat facilitated by Strategic Diversity Initiatives.

Action 14:
Provide expert explanations and insights about complex public health issues related to structural racism and health equity in the next series of the SPH Health in All Matters podcast.

Action lead: Dean, Director of Communications, podcast production committee (composed of SPH faculty, staff, and students)
Timing: July 2020 production begins; fall 2020 launch series

Status: On time

The “PodSquad” — a 12 member group of topic experts public health experts, and production staff — has been assembled and meets weekly through October to plan and produce the Series 2 podcast titled “If not now, when? Racism: A 400-year public health emergency.” The series launched on Oct. 15, 2020.

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