Midwestern University Call to Action Program and Five-Step Plan for Diversity and Inclusion

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Midwestern University is an academic institution that has historically stood on principles, mission, and values. We recognize that supporting diversity and engagement is an important aspect of those principles. The University is committed to building a more diverse, more inclusive academic community and promoting equity for all. We pledge our commitment to undo inequities that exist in policies and practices, advance values of diversity and inclusion, and to create a truly equitable environment for faculty, staff, and students.

Midwestern University is dedicated to effect change, overcome inequities, promote greater diversity, and establish a culture of inclusivity that celebrates diversity. To support this goal, on June 5, 2020, Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, announced and began implementation of the Midwestern University Call to Action Program and Five-Step Plan for Diversity and Inclusion.

The Midwestern University Call to Action Program and Five Step Plan is designed to bring greater awareness and education on the impact of racial inequity within the society and in health care education is an important initiative. This Plan’s implementation began all around the University’s Colleges, Programs and Departments via listening sessions to learn about our colleague’s concerns and suggestions and establishing various task forces in charge of reviewing department standards, broadening multi-cultural understanding about current issues through reading, videos, and other media, strengthening focus on community service projects, increasing financial literacy, supporting education, and increasing diversity among our workforce.

All of our Colleges, Programs and Departments support and are committed to the Midwestern University’s Call to Action Plan through the following five steps:

Call to Action - Step One:   Listening

Every Dean, Program Director, Manager, or Department Head has gathered groups of colleagues together to listen to their concerns, encourage them to make suggestions on departmental improvements that can identify and dispel racism, and recommend additional community outreach opportunities.  In addition, these groups can help identify new and improved ways in which we can recruit more underrepresented minority employees. All faculty and staff are invited to submit any questions/suggestions for improvement, as well as discussion points they may have. The questions, comments, and suggestions received will be utilized to have several conversations on these important topics during department meetings. 

Our Colleges and support departments, such as Business Services, Financial Aid, Communications, Admissions, and Alumni Relations, have conducted dialogue and listening sessions with their faculty, staff and students. Feedback from these meetings has been shared with the entire University Response Team, and the suggestions emulating from these productive listening sessions have been very meaningful.  Our academic deans and managers have attentively heard concerns, new ideas and opportunities for Midwestern University to be more inclusive as an academic community, and are impressed by everyone’s honest feedback and enthusiastic participation. Dialogue and listening sessions will continue at the College and Departmental levels as long-term plans get formulated.

Midwestern University remains committed to the highest standards of ethics, honesty, integrity and compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations. Further, we believe that faculty, staff, and students should have the opportunity to confidentially/anonymously ask questions or voice concerns about workplace and University issues to further our goals and mission of maintaining a safe and equitable campus community environment. Therefore, in addition to the listening sessions being conducted by each department, the University established a Bias, Discrimination, or Harassment Incident/Concern Reporting System. This new online system will allow for the reporting of incidents or concerns relating, but not limited to, equal opportunity, discrimination, harassment, campus climate and bias, human resources issues, and student conduct issues.  The reporting form can be found on the Midwestern University Home Page, and the link is on every footer on Midwestern University Web Page. It is also located in the Current Student page under the Resources Section, and Faculty and Staff page is also found in the Resources Section.

Call to Action - Step Two: Colleges and Departmental Task Forces and Committees

Improved discussion and training on social injustice and cultural sensitivity as members of our communities is necessary and beneficial. Colleges and Departments have been encouraged to brainstorm different ideas/goals via shared documents.  In addition to the small discussions groups amongst their faculty, staff and students, each College and Department have a larger goal to host more formal department training and discussion opportunities for all.  This would lead to the University’s long term goal of continued education and improvement.   As part of this step, the department has the following recommendations on things that each of us can do to enhance our knowledge and understanding of topics such as cultural awareness, social justice, American history, race and immigration, intergroup anxiety, effectively discussing race, macroaggressions, and other topics.

Colleges and Departments will also strengthen their focus on Community Service and Volunteering, and will look for opportunities for employees and students to be involved (individually and as a group) with organizations that could benefit from volunteers’ time and active support.

Call to Action - Step Three: Research Grants

The University established a new Research Grant program called “Improving Health Care Delivery and Reducing Health Care Disparities in Underserved Minority Communities”, which will provide up to $10,000 per award.  Two awards per campus will be available (up to four total Midwestern University research grant awards), to support projects led by University faculty and student researchers. These funds are not reducing intramural funding for any college.  The purpose of this program is to:

  • Foster new and emerging creative research ideas centered around improving health care delivery for underserved minorities and/or eliminating health care disparities among racial and ethnic minority populations.
  • Encourage proposals that impact healthcare disparities as a long-term goal by enhancing representation of minorities in the healthcare provider community, and/or changes to healthcare educational programs as a short-term target will be considered under this mechanism; and
  • Lay the groundwork for intellectually innovative research into health of minority populations beyond current educational programs and screenings.

Grants will be awarded to proposals that show promise for advancing Black and African-American and other minority populations and involve student work.  

Call to Action - Step Four:  Policy Review

Midwestern University has established a Diversity and Inclusion Policy Review Task Force to review and recommend updates for all our policies and procedures to assure continued equal treatment of all faculty, staff and students regardless of their gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation.  This Task Force is chaired by the Vice President of Human Resources and Administrations, and its members include the co-chairs of the University Committee on Diversity and Inclusion on both campuses, faculty, and staff. The University Policy Review Task Force has identified means to link their efforts with the University Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Committee; they will seek opportunities to improve cross collaboration between the Office of the President, the Office of Student Services, the Colleges, and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. They are also exploring ways to increase programing of speakers and activities between all the colleges and departments on campus.

University policies are being reviewed carefully by this Task Force to ensure unbiased, inclusive language and fairness in all statements, documents and communication. Policies that are being reviewed, include Patient Rights, Code of Conduct, Anti-harassment and Non-Discrimination. In conjunction with the Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a new section of the Midwestern University website is being planned along with new educational programs focused on awareness, diversity and cultural competence workshops.   

The University has always strived to make sure that there is appropriate implementation of these policies and standards within our colleges and department, and Deans, Program Directors and Department heads will ask for our employees’ and students’ input to find out if there are specific policies that they would like to suggest for revision.

Call to Action - Step Five:  Scholarship Fund

All thirty-seven members of the Midwestern University Response Team, as well as University Faculty, Staff and Students have come together and contributed $80,000.00 thus far to create a new scholarship fund in clear demonstration of unwavering support to all underrepresented minority students. Strengthening and promoting diversity in the healthcare workforce is a critical component of Midwestern University's mission to educate the twenty-first century healthcare team to meet the needs of all members of our society. 

This new Midwestern University Diversity Scholarship Fund will be used to provide need-based scholarships for qualified students on both the Downers Grove and Glendale Campuses. Two $5,000 awards will be given at each campus beginning with the 2020/2021 academic year.

Eligibility and Application Process can be located on the Financial Aid website as of September 18, 2020, and applications must be submitted by October 15, 2020.  Underrepresented Minority Students in any of our colleges or programs and in any year of study may apply. 

Scholarship Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to eligible student applicants based on the following criteria:

  • Past academic performance.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity through leadership roles, past academic projects/research, participation in working with underrepresented groups, employment, and/or community service activities.
  • Preference given to first-generation college students.
  • Original 250-word personal statement describing student’s commitment to reducing healthcare disparities and providing culturally competent healthcare to future patients.
  • Demonstrated financial need; a completed Financial Aid Application process must be completed so that financial need can be evaluated.

Scholarship recipients will be selected by the Midwestern University Financial Aid Committees on both campuses. Administrators, employees and students interested in making a personal contribution towards this new scholarship can visit https://online.midwestern.edu/public/giving.cgi to make a donation.

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