For the fifth year in a row, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) has been honored for its commitment to diversity and inclusion with a Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
One of only two veterinary colleges in the United States to receive the recognition for five consecutive years, the CVMBS joins Texas A&M’s Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy and 48 other recipients of the 2021 HEED award, presented annually to health colleges and universities across the country that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Recipients, announced on Oct. 14, will be featured in the December 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.
“During my time as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, I have witnessed the hard work and commitment of our faculty, staff, and students as they prioritize creating an environment that is welcoming, supportive, and safe for everyone who enters our doors,” said Dr. John R. August, CVMBS dean. “We are extraordinarily proud to have received the HEED award for five consecutive years, and we have no intent of resting our laurels.
“Veterinary medicine remains the least diversified of the health professions and our college recognizes the importance of a broad approach to fostering an inclusive environment of respect, understanding, appreciation, and opportunity,” he said.
This broad approach reaches across the CVMBS community and has included an inclusive Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) curriculum, initiatives that make higher education accessible to students at all levels, and training opportunities for faculty and staff.
The CVMBS Office of Diversity & Inclusion, led by Dr. Kenita Rogers, and the Committee for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Accountability (C-IDEA) have also hosted a number of new activities and developed a number of new initiatives designed to promote inclusion, diversity, and access.
These include events designed to bring together members of the CVMBS community, such as “Spread the Love” in support of the CVMBS LGBTQ community, which included donating $1,850 in T-shirt sales to a fundraiser for The Trevor Project sponsored by the LGBTQIA+ and Allies, TAMU CVMBS Interns, Residents, and Graduate Students organization; a five-day Welcome Week that included activities ranging from an inclusivity and campus resources fair to a panel discussion on the power of the words we use and the dangers of stereotyping; and storytelling activities that encourage members of the CVMBS community to share stories from their lives with their friends, peers, professors, and others within the college.
In addition, a “Sticks and Stones—Words that Hurt” video, created to highlight the impacts of microaggressions, was produced and shared within the CVMBS community, with shortened versions being broadcast across campus digital signage; the “I Am CVM” video series, created to celebrate the uniqueness of and connections shared between more than 40 CVMBS faculty, staff, and students, was shared on social media and across the CVMBS; and a Leadership & Communication in Action video series was created to reinforce the importance of and model conflict management skillsets such as perspective taking.
Within the DVM program, a Professional Skills class had students participate in discussion groups related to podcast topics on diversity and inclusion efforts and the CVMBS’ Professional Programs Office facilitated meetings between students and corporate veterinary practices regarding LGBTQ practices.
In addition, DVM students supported Texas A&M’s REACH Project by offering free wellness check-ups and vaccinations to the pets of Texas A&M’s contracted service workers. Veterinary students also joined members of the CVMBS’ Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) to participate in Operation Lone Star, sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services, during which they provided wellness checks and vaccinations for 735 animals belonging to owners with reduced access to veterinary care.
These new initiatives expand upon the college’s strong student organizations that are dedicated to supporting a welcoming learning environment. These include the Graduate Student Association, which provides consistent multicultural programming; VOICE (Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment), a student-run organization that addresses socio-cultural awareness among veterinary students, faculty, and staff; TAMU Pride Student Veterinary Medical Community (PrideSVMC), which works to connect, support, and empower LGBTQ+ veterinary students and allies; and the CVMBS’ chapter of the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA), a community of Latinx DVM students, veterinarians, veterinary professionals, pet parents, and allies.
In addition, veterinary student-led CVMBS White Coats are dedicated to maintaining a culture of universal acceptance and selfless leadership in order to preserve the ideals of inclusion and excellence within the CVMBS.
Finally, the monthly Diversity & Inclusion Digest shares information related to the CVMBS’ ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, resources to support a commitment to continuous learning, and diversity and inclusion events and reflections.
“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees—and best practices for both—continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”
For more information about the 2021 Health Professions HEED Award, visit insightintodiversity.com, and for more information on the CVMBS’ diversity and inclusion efforts, visit vetmed.tamu.edu/diversity.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; email@example.com; 979-862-4216