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 February 2021.

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: On Time

The draft DEI strategic plan will be open for review by all SPH faculty, staff, students, and alumni in Feb-Mar, 2021. The final plan is expected to launch in spring/summer 2021.

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 for a full-time DEI coordinator. Our request was granted on July 31. In November 2020, Gayle Smaller Jr., DEI coordinator, joined SPH. Future hiring requests will be reviewed as we launch the strategic plan.

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 SPH DEI Action Alignment Team was formed in February 2021 and includes representation from all SPH divisions and schoolwide units. The Team meets monthly and will help implement the strategic plan.

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

The associate dean for faculty affairs convened an ad hoc review committee in December 2020 to review and suggest revisions to the faculty appointment, promotion, and tenure policies. The committee decides what specific issues their review will focus on, but the associate dean suggested an approach to review the policies through a DEI lens. We anticipate that the committee will follow through on this.

The associate dean for faculty affairs is planning implicit bias training for the Appointment Promotion and Tenure (APT) committee at their March 2021 meeting, in advance of their April 2021 meeting to review probationary tenure-track faculty.

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

Action leads met with Ryan Hamilton from the UMN OBCED to discussed strategies and opportunities. In FY20, SPH spend with minority vendors was 9%; the University’s goal is 6%. The team will continue to look for opportunities to increase spend. This will be an ongoing activity.

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

Give to the Max Day raised more than $25,000 to support SPH student diversity networks, second year scholarships and emergency funding for BIPOC students.

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

The associate dean for faculty affairs is asking the chairs of all faculty search committees to participate in the UMN Office of Equity and Diversity workshop on Implicit Bias in Search and Selection. HR-led implicit bias training will continue to be delivered to the entire committee.

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

The associate dean for faculty affairs has solicited information from other UMN health sciences schools about the following: how they structure their committees (elected, appointed, representation from departments, ranks, faculty tracks); how often they review salaries; what external benchmarks they use; etc. A proposed committee structure, charge, and basic processes is expected to be developed in spring 2021. HR will provide staff support for the committee.

SPH HR and the associate dean for faculty affairs have requested UMN HR to prepare a market analysis of SPH faculty salaries. Results are expected in spring 2021.

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

The action team is creating DEI- and BIPOC- specific events for admitted students and is working with SPH divisions to create recruitment DEI recruitment strategies.

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

SPH is currently in the annual scholarship awarding process, and is using the plus factor test to ensure that priority populations receive equal consideration for all funds.

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

The action team has formed a committee to help develop this advisory group.

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: On time

Faculty training is ongoing. Staff training will begin in March 2021. Next steps include building accountability structures for the training.

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.

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: On time

On January 14, SDI led a retreat for SPH leadership. We learned about the history and impact of racism, and discussed the role we could all play in reshaping the culture of SPH. Additionally, this group will reconvene later in the spring to discuss how we as leaders can help bring the DEI strategic plan into fruition.

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.

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: Completed

Series 2 of the SPH podcast titled “If not now, when? Racism: A 400-year public health emergency” concluded in Jan 2021. All episodes and associated resources are available on the SPH website.

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