Values vs. Visuals

Paula K. Davis, 
Associate Vice Chancellor
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Schools of the Health Sciences
Values are defined as basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. They undergird our actions as humans and as institutions. There can be a disconnect between who we say we are and what we do. Authenticity asks that one shows up as they truly are, as the embodiment of their values.

The social justice reckoning inspired by the deaths of George Floyd and others moved many to assert their alliance with anti-racism efforts, equity and justice initiatives, to metaphorically pick up the banner with intent to carry it forward.

Difficulty arises when there is dissonance between stated values and visible actions. It’s no secret that typical academic culture is antithetical to values of equity and inclusion. The academy and its traditional success metrics demand a constant feeding of the beast of publishing and obtaining grants. Mission critical, to be sure; however, if we are to change the culture of the academy by creating equitable spaces, safe spaces, inclusive spaces, then window dressing DEI while business and behavior proceed as usual will not and cannot work.

If we say we value inclusion, then we must look around the table, notice who is absent and take action to include. If we say we value equity, we must ask what conditions, systems, structures, and policies result in inequitable outcomes and act to close the gaps. Instead of charging off to the next “meet the metric” activity, stop, reflect on our institutional and your personal values, then proceed. In the vernacular, don’t just look like it – be about it.
HS Story
The Office of Health Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Introduces Bee Schindler

By Karla Perelstine, Editor
Bee Schindler
Bee Schindler joins the Office of Health Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as their Diversity Training Manager. In this position, Bee will execute the overall diversity recruiting and development strategy for Health Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (HSDEI). This role includes building, managing and implementing diversity training and education programs for the Health Sciences; supporting the Director for Health Sciences Equity and Justice in the development of the Health Sciences Faculty Equity and Justice Fellowship Program.
Schools of Health Science Social Justice Initiatives
By Karla Perelstine, Editor

The school year, 2020-2021, was proclaimed by Pitt as the "Year of Engagement", a year in which staff, faculty, and students engaged in communication to build alliances at Pitt and in neighboring communities. The unprecedented predicament that was placed upon us by COVID found most everybody in the virtual classroom learning about racial, religious, and gender based disparities and the need for social justice and equality to occur. The Schools of Health Sciences developed several ongoing initiatives throughout the year to aid in the process of narrowing these inequities. Descriptions of these initiatives can be found HERE.
Opening up from the COVID- 19 pandemic, University of Pittsburgh 2021 graduates were able to graduate live onstage but with the number of invited attendees limited. If you were unable to witness the graduation of your best friend or family member in person, we offer recordings of these ceremonies below.
Dr. Rory Cooper, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Research, has been presented the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Biomedical Engineering Award “for extensive contributions to wheelchair technology that have expanded mobility and reduced secondary injuries for millions of people with disabilities.”
Congratulations to Dr. Andrea Hergenroeder, former director of the University of Pittsburgh Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, on her new position as director of the University of Pittsburgh Interprofessional Center for Health Careers. Dr. Hergenroeder replaces Susan M. Meyer, who steered the center as director since its launch in 2018.
Congratulations to Dr. Terri Newman, Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy on receiving her first grant. The grant, applied for in February, is awarded by the ASHP - American Society of Health-System Pharmacists to early-stage pharmacist researchers whose work supports diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in healthcare and/or access to healthcare. The objective for Dr. Newman's research is to identify barriers and facilitators to use of disease modifying treatments in sickle cell disease.
Dr. Thomas Nolan, tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacy & Therapeutics as well as in the Department of Medicine Renal-Electrolyte Division, was recently invited to present to the National Kidney Foundation – American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Task Force on reassessing the Inclusion of Race in Diagnosing Kidney Diseases. Dr. Nolan's other roles within the University include Associate Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs, and Director of the University of Pittsburgh Small Molecule Biomarker Core.
Congratulations to the following University of Pittsburgh faculty and staff members on the publication of their research in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation; Amber E. JohnsonMehret Birru TalabiEliana BonifacinoAlison J. CulybaEsa M. DavisPaula K. DavisLaura M. De CastroUtibe R. EssienAlda Maria GonzagaMaCalus V. HoganAlaina J. JamesCharles R. JonassaintNaudia L. JonassaintLoreta MatheoMelonie A. NanceG. Sarah NapoéOladipupo OlafiranyeSylvia Owusu-AnsahTomar N. Pierson-BrownA.J. Conrad SmithTomeka L. SuberOrquidia TorresRickquel TrippEloho UfomataJ. Deanna Wilson, and Jeannette E. South-Paul. The authors examine the benefits of increasing the population of diverse professionals in the field of cardiology. Documented barriers to achieving workforce diversity is outlined and suggestions made for evidence-based strategies to overcome these barriers. The published work can be found HERE.
In its fourth year, the Pitt Seed Grant Program provides start up funding  to transformative projects that support the goals of Pitt’s strategic plan. Of the twenty projects chosen in 2021, four grants will be presented to promote justice and equity within the field of health sciences. Details of these projects can be found HERE.
Health Sciences Student and Trainee Accomplishments
Dr. Cecilia Akintonde, a second year pediatric dental resident, was selected by the National Dental Association Foundation to receive a Dr. Bessie Delaney Scholarship. This scholarship, named for Dr. Annie Elizabeth "Bessie" Delaney, the only Black female in the 1923 Columbia University DDS program and the second Black woman to be licensed to practice dentistry in the State of New York, is awarded yearly to a post-doctoral female student pursuing an additional degree in a sub-specialty.
Phoebe Balascio, Graduate School of Public Health, Epidemiology, was named as one of 25 under 25 by Ms. Magazine: Women of Color to Watch. Phoebe is a transracial, transnational, Chinese American adoptee whose focus is to uplift the power, voices and stories of women of color by building communities of care, engaging young people, and centering the margins. Her passions include racial justice, immigrant justice, disability justice and the adoption industrial complex. Phoebe is director of outreach for the East Coast Asian American Student Union and youth organizer at Woori Center. Her current research focuses on gender-based violence.
Kenneth Jacquez Richardson, School of Pharmacy, Class of 2023, is the recipient of the 2020 CVS Health Minority Scholarship for Pharmacy Students. This annual scholarship award is granted through CVS Health and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) to high-achieving first-year or second-year PharmD students of underrepresented minority backgrounds who demonstrate academic success, leadership, and commitment to progressing the pharmacy profession and patient healthcare.
Past Events
Prominent members of the Asian American and Jewish communities joined together in recognition of Asian Pacific Heritage Month and Jewish Heritage Month to discuss social activism spanning several generations. Panelists included Marian Lien whose current roles include Director of Education for Inclusion and Global Awareness at St. Edmund's Academy in Pittsburgh,
Commissioner on Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and Board President Organization of Chinese Americans- Asian Pacific American Advocates Pittsburgh Chapter and Lydia Ott who is a fourth generation Chinese American Occupational Therapy Doctorate Candidate at University of Pittsburgh whose passions lie in serving immigrant and refugee populations fighting against human trafficking and racism. Joining Marian and Lydia were Sai Koros, co-founder of Maspeak, an advocacy network for Jewish students and young adults in Pittsburgh focused on social justice and Melanie Maron Pell, Chief Fields Officer at the American Jewish Committee. The discussion was led by Emiola Oriola, founding program manager at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement.
White Coats Against Racism Kneel - On May 25th, University of Pittsburgh Medical School students, faculty, and staff joined with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center staff to kneel for nine minutes and 29 seconds in unity against race-based hatred and violence and to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd.
PittPharmacy White Coat Ceremony - In response to years of unrest which can be attributed to racial injustice, political tension, ongoing disparities in healthcare, and most recently the current COVID-19 crisis, the PittPharmacy class of 2024 took it upon themselves to expand upon the professional oath typically recited at the White Coat ceremony. In addition to the traditional oath to professionalism, the students made an allegiance to inclusion, unprejudiced compassion, and equity.
Diversity Holiday Calendar
National Minority Donor Awareness Month
August 9 - International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
August 10 - Islamic New Year
August 22 - Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi (Hindu celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the symbol of wisdom, prosperity, and good fortune)
August 30- Krishna Janmashtami or Jayanti (Hindu celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna)
Event Calendar
Schools of Health Sciences Information Sessions
Congratulations to Dr. Utibe Essien, Assistant Professor and Researcher, Pitt School of Medicine, for being the recipient of the 2021 Larry E. Davis Award for Excellence in Race Research. This award, named in honor of late Dean emeritus is given to an emerging scholar who produces impactful research on race in America. Dr. Essien has been presented with this award for his work related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Mark Roberts, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Public Health Dynamics Laboratory and professor and chair of Health Policy and Management at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, weighs in on continued mask wearing.
Congratulations to students Emily Crisan (School of Public Health, Behavioral and Community Health Science), Sophie Taylor (School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences) and Haley Marra (School of Nursing) who along with Eva Brady, Vishan Ramanthan, and Naomi Gurewitsch from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, placed third out of 53 teams from across the United States in the Emory University's Morningside International Global Health Case Competition. The focus of their entry, "The Forward Project", was on ways to address the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Japan. Elizabeth Van Nostrand, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the School of Public Health and director, MPH and JD/MPH programs advised the winning team.
Pandemic Resources
Speakers and workshops for the Diversity Forum have been announced. Access the full schedule and register HERE.