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Dean's Blog | June 21, 2021

It’s a pandemic! Still!

Judith Karshmer

A year ago, the other pandemic — the pandemic of inequality — was heavy on my mind. It still is. But at least now, as with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way forward is clearer. We can act with purpose to address the scourge of disparity, and we can measure progress.

There should be more to diversity, equity and inclusion at colleges of nursing than bromides and values statements. No organization can claim excellence without diversity in its structure and programs.

Health North and Health South, two buildings on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus that house Edson College

In pursuit of excellence and in recognition of the severe, negative impact of inequality and injustice, the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University adopted diversity, equity and inclusion as a core value of a five-year strategic plan. “Edson College 2026” developed after a deep dive into the curriculum and elsewhere to look for where we are missing the boat on representation.

The value of diversity, equity and inclusion is part of every goal in the college, including international experiences, philanthropic gifts, student composition and faculty makeup. The goal is to reflect the composition of the environment in which we find ourselves.

And we’re going to measure progress. Benchmarks in Edson College 2026 are set for this year, 2024 and 2026.

For example, by 2024 we intend to increase the diversity of our faculty and staff by 25% and then to do it again by 2026. We’re working to expand opportunities for students' clinical experiences to take place in non-traditional, diverse settings. Our student population is growing and, as part of that, we’ve set goals to make sure our students are representative of the diversity of Arizona and the populations they’ll care for upon graduation. 

Funding is attached to these values as we seek ways to address the needs of underrepresented students while striving to provide access and opportunities for all stakeholders that are equitable, culturally relevant and responsible. 

In a year’s time, discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion are beginning to become the norm at Edson College. That people are starting to feel more comfortable raising issues is progress. How can we resolve issues if we don’t create the environment that acknowledges such challenges exist?

There is so much work to do on the pandemic of inequality. We’re moving forward with solutions at the core of problems based on what we know to be true and on our commitment to achieving excellence.