School of Nursing announces official diversity and inclusion position statement

Students during Sigma Theta Tau induction

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) has adopted a new diversity and inclusion statement that sets out its dedication to the equity, diversity and inclusion of all students, faculty and staff and proclaims its responsibilities as an educational institution to foster and graduate highly educated and culturally sensitive health care professionals.

The statement was developed by a diversity and inclusion task force set up in 2017 and approved by the school’s executive committee in mid-January.

The task force was chaired by Assistant Professor Geri Reeves, PhD, MSN’93. “Writing the diversity and inclusivity statement was the collective effort of a diverse group of individuals representing faculty, staff, and students,” Reeves said. “In the process of developing the statement, we learned that each of us care deeply about diversity and inclusivity at VUSN and beyond. Our hope is that the statement will be a written reminder of our common humanity and need for each other.”

Dean and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing Linda Norman, DNS, FAAN, said she welcomed the statement and thanked the group for its work.

“It’s important that we as educators proclaim our belief in the value of all people and the need for inclusion, diversity and equity,” she said. “Our society is richer — we are richer — when we learn from and work with people who bring experiences and perspectives different than our own.”

“Our students are the nursing professionals of the future, charged with providing care and health care solutions to an increasingly and wonderfully diverse society,” she continued. “I hope this statement communicates to future and current students, faculty and staff that we need their diversity and welcome them here at VUSN.”

The diversity and inclusivity statement is part of a greater effort by VUSN to convey its support of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups and individuals. In addition to adopting the statement, VUSN’s Executive Committee also endorsed the task force’s recommendation to establish a standing diversity and inclusion committee within the school. That recommendation will be sent to VUSN faculty for a vote later this month. If approved, the committee will be chaired by Reeves.

“We see the statement as a starting point in the initiative to make VUSN an even more inclusive place to work and learn,” she said.

VUSN’s diversity and inclusivity statement is:

At Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN), we are intentional about and assume accountability for fostering advancement and respect for equity, diversity, and inclusion for all students, faculty, and staff. We support our efforts with respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and unique attributes of every person. To bring to life our vision of inclusive excellence, we seek to recruit, admit, hire, retain, promote, and support diverse and underrepresented groups of students, staff, and faculty. We value social justice and human rights. We embrace the plurality of humanity that composes our community including, but not limited to, age, race, ethnic origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion. We affirm the inherent worth of each individual in order to protect, promote, and optimize the health and abilities of all people. As educators of advanced practice nurses, nurse scholars, nurse leaders, and nurse faculty, we accept the responsibility to foster and graduate highly educated, culturally sensitive health care professionals who mirror the diverse populations they serve.

More on diversity at VUSN