The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) awarded EVMS its 2019 Institutional Excellence Award.

The award was presented March 8, 2019, at the 2019 NADOHE Annual Conference in Philadelphia. The organization presents this award to recognize institutions of higher education that have “demonstrated measurable progress in promoting and sustaining innovative diversity efforts within their campus community.”

Richard Homan, MD, President and Provost of EVMS and Dean of the School of Medicine, and Mekbib Gemeda, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, were on hand to accept the award.

“EVMS is honored to receive this recognition from the NADOHE,” Dr. Homan says. "We are committed to building on our achievements to ensure EVMS provides a welcoming and inclusive environment that embraces the needs of our diverse community."

Mr. Gemeda joined EVMS in 2013 and has led EVMS efforts to advance health equity.

“Integrating diversity and inclusion into the mission of a medical school is imperative to advancing excellence in medicine,” Mr. Gemeda says. “Research has shown that diversity enhances training outcomes for students, faculty and employees and advances healthcare quality.”

The award recognizes an emphasis on diversity and inclusion that has been going on for several years across the institution and has involved a broad mix of students, faculty, staff and leadership.

“This has been a team effort,” Dr. Homan said. “We could not have achieved this national recognition without widespread support from faculty, staff and students across the institution.”

Marcus Martin, MD (MD ’76), University Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity at the University of Virginia and a member of the EVMS Board of Visitors, nominated EVMS for the award. In his early January nomination letter, Dr. Martin praised Dr. Homan and Mr. Gemeda for their shared vision.

Under their leadership, Dr. Martin wrote, the school has “implemented transformative programming to advance inclusive excellence across the education, clinical and community outreach mission areas of EVMS.”

Dr. Martin highlighted a number of measures taken by EVMS faculty and staff in his nomination. Those include: 

  • Implementing ongoing cultural awareness and implicit bias training for staff, faculty, staff, residents, students and volunteer leaders.
  • Enhancing the diversity of the Board of Visitors. 
  • Implementing holistic review in admissions and enhancing diversity recruitment efforts.
  • Engaging the EVMS community in conversations about racism, structural inequities and social justice.
  • Creating Safe Zone training and the Alliance Group to ensure LGBT students and staff feel included and thrive at EVMS.
  • Creating a mentoring family of health professions — from K-12, premedical and medical students and healthcare professionals in Hampton Roads across the career spectrum.
  • Integrating social determinants of health into all four years of the EVMS medical curriculum. The CareForward Curriculum reinforces the importance of considering the social and structural contexts that determine the circumstances of patients together with the foundational and clinical presentations of diseases. Virtual, culturally diverse families are implemented across the curriculum to facilitate inclusive learning.
  • Nurturing youth in advancing equity. Students begin their journey at EVMS with a visit to a local inner-city elementary school where they engage in cleaning and preparing the school for the children. They continue to work with the children at Young Terrace on Saturdays throughout the year, reading with them and exposing them to medicine and health at an early age.

Minorities currently make up 38 percent of the school’s students, 21 percent of faculty, 35 percent of residents and 40 percent of staff.

In a prepared statement, NADOHE President Archie Ervin, PhD, said: "We are delighted to offer this unprecedented opportunity to acknowledge and reward innovation in inclusive excellence. Our goal is to encourage fellow professional individuals and institutions to implement comprehensive policies, practices and initiatives designed to achieve inclusive excellence, and increase the profile of innovative inclusive excellence practices within colleges and universities."