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Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie

July 10, 2020

Committing to Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (IDARE) Efforts at Our School

Dear Staff, Students, and Faculty,

Recent events have reminded us yet again of the fear, hurt, racism, and oppression that the Black community, Indigenous Peoples, and people of color have lived with for hundreds of years. As a school community, we are angered and saddened, but undeterred in our commitment to dismantle structural oppression and racist policies and practices within our School, community, and in public health. We thank you for your participation in the many conversations being held with faculty, staff, and students at every level throughout the School. We recognize that there are issues, challenges, and concerns that need to be addressed. We continue to listen and are committed to doing better. 

The School’s Strategic Plan prioritizes the cultivation of a diverse, inclusive, and nurturing environment for students, faculty, and staff. This means striving to be an institution where all people, especially those who are historically marginalized, disenfranchised, or excluded can thrive. But meaningful change and impact necessitates bold action and investments.

To this end, we are establishing an Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (IDARE) to act as a resource and support for these efforts. The office will be directed by the School’s inaugural Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Joel Bolling, who joined the School earlier this year. Additionally, we have created a new position to further amplify the office’s work: the IDARE Director of Student Recruitment and Engagement. This new role will increase our capacity to recruit, retain, and advocate for underrepresented students at our School.

Through a process that is inclusive of the BSPH community, we are developing an IDARE strategy that will integrate with our “Power of Public Health” strategic plan. To be released in September 2020, the IDARE strategy will include an expansive list of IDARE goals with well-defined and measurable benchmarks. It will also align with new University initiatives being developed under the leadership of Katrina Caldwell, the University’s new Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Ashely Llorens, president of the JHU Diversity Leadership Council, and Patricia Davidson, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The link to President Daniels’ letter announcing this effort can be found here.

As we continue to develop the IDARE strategy, we will begin to address in earnest eight priorities that were identified by the BSPH community over the past month as needing immediate attention. In moving forward with these priorities, we will operate within a framework that acknowledges the importance of:

  • Ensuring adequate resources for advancing IDARE;
  • Integrating IDARE as a fundamental thread throughout the work of our School;
  • Committing ALL of us to actively work towards IDARE and not solely relying on members of our Black community, Indigenous Peoples, and people of color;
  • Being a model for IDARE among schools of public health.

To this end, our eight immediate priorities are:

  1. To develop and implement impactful IDARE trainings for all faculty, students, and staff.
    The trainings will include topics such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, allyship, and anti-racism. Coupled with these trainings, we will offer regular opportunities for small group discussions that facilitate open dialogue and the sharing of lived experiences. All incoming students, faculty, and staff will be required to engage in this training as part of their onboarding process this fall. All returning students, faculty, and staff will complete training by next fall.
  2. To increase the share of professorial and non-professorial track faculty that come from historically underrepresented minority (URM) communities over the next five years.
    Though we strive to exceed this goal, we will, at a minimum, align the percentages of URM faculty to the national percentages of people from URM backgrounds in each URM ethnic group. Further, we strive to ensure school leadership and committees reflect greater diversity. A focus on strategies for ensuring retention of URM faculty will also be prioritized. 
  3. To ensure the curriculum across all departments and programs is representative and inclusive of diverse populations, especially those who have been traditionally excluded or marginalized.
    This will start with a curricular review to be launched this summer. Based on this review, we will develop new and expanded learning opportunities as well as establish a core competency addressing IDARE in public health that will be required for all degree-seeking JHSPH students.   
  4. To guarantee salary equity and opportunity for JHSPH staff.
    This effort will create and resource more high-value employment and professional development pathways for staff. In collaboration with Human Resources, we will conduct a staff salary equity review and adjustment annually.
  5. To review and revise all policies, practices, and procedures to ensure IDARE in all we do.
    This review will be at the School and departmental level, and will include research, practice, policy, teaching, and the recruitment and cultivation of excellence in our students, faculty, and staff. This assessment process will begin in September 2020, with a goal of making all necessary changes by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. 
  6. To expand the School’s research that focuses on the impact of racism on public health and public safety.
    This effort will include generating new knowledge and translating research into policies and practices that can make a difference locally, nationally, and globally. Our goal is to expand and deepen our body of research to help address racism as a public health crisis.
  7. To continue to prioritize our commitment to Baltimore.
    We will improve mechanisms for encouraging and recognizing the participation of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners in our collaborations. We strive to serve, collaborate, and stand with our community.  
  8. To establish a culture of accountability.
    We will begin this effort by owning our history. We will speak and publish openly about our School’s history as it relates to racism. Benchmarks for assessing progress in achieving IDARE goals will be established and made available on a public-facing website. Over the next six months, each of the School’s academic departments and offices will identify and support a faculty or staff member to provide leadership and accountability for practices in support of IDARE.

These eight priorities are only the beginning of our journey to advance systemic, structural, and cultural change. We ask that each of you embrace these priorities and contribute to our efforts in support of IDARE. You can start by taking opportunities to educate yourself and engage in the conversation. It is only through our shared responsibility and commitment that, together, we will move forward towards a better future—a future in which each person at our School and in our community is fully respected and valued. A future in which all of us can thrive.