As the process of developing the EDI strategic plan gets underway, Assistant Dean for EDI Chanel Whittaker provided these updates on Sept. 7, 2023, to the UMSOP community.

Dear School of Pharmacy community,

It has been an exciting year at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) for equity, diversity, and inclusive excellence (EDI). As interim dean and assistant dean for EDI, respectively, we would like to highlight several notable accomplishments and outline plans for the 2023 2024 academic year.   

Integrating EDI into Faculty Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure Guidelines

One of the most significant accomplishments in 2022-2023 was the School’s Faculty Assembly adopting edits to the Faculty Handbook to integrate equity, diversity, and inclusion criteria into the appointment, promotion, and tenure process. This groundbreaking effort, championed by Mandy Oglesby, PhD, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences (PSC), and Ebere Onukwugha, PhD, professor of practice, sciences, and health outcomes research (P-SHOR), will benefit the School and society and create a new space for faculty to demonstrate excellence in research, teaching, practice, and service.

Advancing Health Equity in the PharmD Curriculum

In a six-page letter to then-Dean Eddington and the EDI Taskforce in 2020, a multicultural coalition of nine visionary PharmD students, now alumni, created the “working group of pharmacy students for racial justice,” urging that UMSOP’s PharmD curriculum better reflect that “pharmacy education is not only about the provision of drugs [but also] about provision of care, to all people…” In alignment with national efforts to create a healthy future for all, a key short-term recommendation from the final EDI Taskforce report in 2021 was to place increased focus on advancing health equity in the PharmD curriculum. In May 2022, the Faculty Assembly approved new competency- based outcomes for the PharmD curriculum, which integrate antiracism and anti-oppression outcomes for the first time. As part of the Curriculum Redesign Taskforce, which is working to re-imagine the PharmD curriculum, a workgroup will develop a framework to integrate these competencies throughout the new curriculum.

Staff Experience Matters

UMSOP has worked with UMB to renew its commitment to a culture of engagement and belonging.  Over the past year, faculty and staff have completed experience surveys, which - for the first time - included questions related to equity and inclusion. For the staff experience survey, the School of Pharmacy had a record 30 percent participation rate! Thanks to all staff who completed the survey. We hope to continue to develop a trusting relationship as we seek opportunities to integrate staff voice and input into the shared governance structure of the School. This fall, Erica Chaffin, MBA, director of human resources, Bill Cooper, MBA, senior associate dean for administration and finance, and Dr. Whittaker will host sessions with staff to share the survey results and discuss an action plan. The faculty survey results will be available in Spring 2024. 

Investing in Faculty Success

In partnership with the UMB Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Dean’s Office has supported three faculty - Jason Noel, PharmD, associate professor of P-SHOR, and Mandy Oglesby, PhD, and Yan Shu, MD, PhD, both associate professors of PSC - to attend the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity’s Faculty Success Bootcamp. We look forward to continuing to partner with UMB and our departments to sponsor development opportunities for faculty, staff, and students.

Looking Ahead to 2023-2024 

While enthusiastic about what lies ahead, we are aware that our efforts occur with a backdrop of rising anti-equity, diversity, and inclusion legislation, including recent Supreme Court rulings, targeting institutions of higher education. Despite these challenges, UMSOP remains committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusive excellence as a mission critical priority to equitably improve the health of society. Decades of research have demonstrated that equity-centered policies in higher education have a valuable impact on student learning, the workforce, and the health of our nation.

UMSOP Beyond Excellent EDI Strategic Plan

This fall, the School of Pharmacy will create a strategic plan based upon recommendations from the EDI Taskforce’s final report, national best practices, and input from the School community. A leadership steering committee, chaired by Dr. Whittaker and Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, professor of P-SHOR, and comprised of department chairs, associate and assistant deans, and technical experts, will advise and provide support and resources throughout the planning, implementation, and assessment phases of the process.

The steering committee will appoint co-chairs to facilitate workgroups comprised of faculty, staff, students, preceptors, and alumni to develop goals within four theme areas: Learning Edge, Engagement and Belonging, Access and Success, and Institutional Excellence by Design - LEAD. Members of the School community will be invited to nominate themselves or others to serve on one of the LEAD workgroups. The leadership steering committee co-chairs will provide more details about the goals, timeline, and nominations process over the next month.