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Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine receives diversity award

October 1, 2016

Diversity Luncheon 2016
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Dean Cynda Johnson (middle right in beige) and Chief Diversity Officer Karen Eley Sanders (far left in black) with the school's 2016 Diversity Associate Certificate honorees, which were presented in April for attendance at a number of Lunch and Learn sessions.

INSIGHT into Diversity magazine honored the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine with a 2016 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will be honored with 30 other health profession schools in the magazine’s December 2016 issue. The magazine is the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education and selects institutions “where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus.”

“This national recognition comes after years of hard work from our leadership, staff, faculty, students, and community partners,” said Cynda Johnson, founding dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “While we have successes to celebrate, the work is never done, so we will continue to look for ways to increase diversity, create meaningful partnerships to reach underserved communities, and provide a welcoming community for all.”

Over the past few years, the medical school has revamped its diversity and inclusion efforts, with a specific focus on increasing diversity in the student body and faculty ranks. In 2014, the school’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution signifying their commitment to diversity.

In addition, the school hired a chief diversity officer and established an inclusion plan and budget. Now, three years into the plan, the diversity of the student body has vastly improved. The most recent class is composed of 14 percent of underrepresented minorities. A quarter of the class is a first-generation college student and/or from low-income families.

Diversity Luncheon 2016
Karen Eley Sanders began work as chief diversity officer at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in 2014. She also serves as Virginia Tech's associate vice provost for college access.

“When I began working with Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine several years ago, there was a desire to recruit and train a future physician workforce that is more representative of the population they will care for one day,” said Karen Eley Sanders, chief diversity officer for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and associate vice provost for college access at Virginia Tech. “I am proud of the progress that has been made thus far and look forward to building on our momentum.”

Recruitment of underrepresented student populations includes community outreach efforts, diversity-focused admissions officers, a holistic admissions process, need-based scholarships, and pipeline programs, among others.

The medical school offers a variety of diversity-related programming and resources for its faculty, staff, and students, including lunch-and-learn sessions, diversity training, and educational programming.

INSIGHT into Diversity magazine recognized Virginia Tech as one of 10 Diversity Champion colleges and universities in June. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is set to become Virginia Tech’s ninth college, an integration process that is expected to take two years.

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