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Instructors Honored for Equity and Inclusion Efforts in the Classroom

A Zoom meeting with eight participants
On Thursday, Feb. 18, in a Zoom event, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd announced the 2020 recipients of the Provost’s Award for Diversity in the Curriculum. Cudd was joined by recipients of this year’s award and those from previous years, as well as by John Wallace, vice provost for faculty diversity and development, and Clyde Wilson Pickett, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, who both made remarks.

Co-sponsored by the University Center for Teaching and Learning, the awards are intended to recognize faculty whose efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the classroom have resulted in impactful changes. The winners receive a $2,000 cash prize.

“We had a fantastic group of applications, and I want to congratulate all applicants for their efforts to integrate diversity and inclusion into their courses and curriculum,” said Cudd. “The selection committee’s task was certainly not an easy one.”

In his introduction to the event, Wallace expressed excitement to celebrate and elevate faculty work around diversity in the curriculum—which he noted was particularly meaningful during Black History Month.

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The University of Pittsburgh is dedicated to changing internal practices, structures and attitudes in pursuit of a truly more equitable and just Pitt. As a way to ensure transparency and accountability, a website and series of diversity dashboards are available for the community to explore.

“The classroom is the centerpiece of the work we do here at the University; this award is really designed as a tangible statement of our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in our curriculum,” he said. “It recognizes the amazing work our faculty have done over the course of this year, emphasizing the importance of inclusive curriculum.”

In the keynote presentation, Pickett explored the twin concepts of equity and justice.

“We must approach our work with the conviction that equity matters. Justice matters. They matter at the University of Pittsburgh, in our classrooms and beyond, in our day-to-day exchanges,” he said. “They matter in how we develop the minds that ultimately will help shape and transform the world.”

He went on to remind participants that diversity, equity and inclusion are essential components in the University’s mission to improve the world through knowledge.

“It is our duty as a University to create a space where our students and our faculty have the ability to achieve at their highest levels of success. And it is our responsibility to provide them with opportunities where the unique qualities and characteristics are valued and not considered barriers in achieving optimal success,” he said.

“Our goal should be to build on a foundation where our students not just gain a degree in a particular endeavor of study, but to invest in lifelong scholarship and in lifelong service.”

The recipients of this year’s Provost’s Award for Diversity in the Curriculum are:

Thomas Akiva, School of Education, for making equity and antiracism a central focus in the EdD program’s on-ramp course and subsequently, in the entire EdD program.

Kayla Booth, School of Computing and Information, for enhancements to the iSchool Inclusion Institute, which is a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative that prepares students from underrepresented populations for graduate study and careers in information and computing.

Zsuzsa Horvath and Christine Wankiiri-Hale, School of Dental Medicine, for guiding students in the development of curricular content for the module “When the Appointment is No Longer about Dentistry,” to help students address microaggressions and prepare them to handle and respond to inappropriate patient comments and behaviors in a culturally sensitive manner.

Lauren Jonkman, School of Pharmacy, for integrating social justice and health equity into the Population Health and Management core course in the PharmD curriculum, to ensure that all students have the knowledge and skills to identify and address inequities.

Andrew McCormick and Dara Mendez, Schools of Medicine and Public Health, for enhancing Clinical Experience courses for first-year students by introducing a book club which explored the history and ongoing practice of racism within medicine.