Newswise — The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy has received the 2019 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

The magazine is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — the college will be featured alongside only 42 other institutions in its December 2019 issue.

The college is one of only two pharmacy schools in the country to earn the distinction.

“The UIC College of Pharmacy has put considerable effort toward ensuring a diverse and inclusive environment,” said Glen Schumock, dean of the college. “It makes us stronger. Being recognized for these efforts by the HEED award is the icing on the cake.”

This is the second year that the College of Pharmacy has won the award.

Clara Okorie-Awe, associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the college, said the award is a commendation of a number of programs that make the college environment welcoming to all people.

“I see this award as a recognition, not of one program, but of our decision to make diversity and inclusion a priority across all our programs,” Okorie-Awe said. “These initiatives — from academic programs in urban and rural pharmacy to our strategic planning and hiring committees — all help to create an environment in which students and faculty of all backgrounds can feel welcome and, just as important, valued.”

The College of Pharmacy has seen an increase in underrepresented minority student enrollment in the last year. In the 2018 school year, approximately 16% of students identified as belonging to an underrepresented or minority community. This fall, the number rose to 23%.

Okorie-Awe said that the college has focused on recruiting diverse and non-traditional students, in part, thanks to new agreements with community colleges, and that the college has made new efforts to ensure that when tenure track or clinical faculty members are hired or evaluated for promotion, their track record of service to diversity goals is considered.

“Winning the HEED award is fantastic, but the real reward is the benefits to our students, faculty, staff and alumni that come from having a diverse and inclusive environment,” Schumock said.

The college previously was recognized by HEED for its high school pipeline program and for the work of the late Judy Bolton, a leading mentor, educator and researcher at the college for more than 20 years until her death in March, who mentored underrepresented minority students.

While the UIC College of Pharmacy is the first of the UIC’s seven health sciences colleges to win the HEED award, it joins the university, which earned its fourth HEED award in September.

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