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The University of Maryland School of Nursing Receives Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for Third Year Running

November 5, 2020

Office of Diversity and Inclusion kicks off Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion speaker series.

Baltimore, Md. – The University of Maryland School of nursing (UMSON) has received the 2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. This is the third year in a row that UMSON has been named a HEED Award recipient.

The HEED Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UMSON will be featured, along with 44 other recipients, in the December 2020 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“The School of Nursing is deeply honored to receive the HEED Award for a third time,” said Dean Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. “The annual process provides an opportunity for us to again reflect on and assess our program. We remain committed to the development of a diverse health care workforce – not only racially and ethnically, but also with respect to sexual orientation and gender identification, and a host of economic, cultural, and social factors. Such a diverse workforce is essential to ensuring an effective and equitable system of health care for all. This year, in particular, the events of recent months – from the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on vast sectors of our population to the stark reminders of our unfinished business in responding to structural racism – are a renewed call to action. We still have much work to do, in order to truly live the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion." 

Health Professions HEED Award application is open to all accredited U.S. and Canadian health profession schools, including medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, veterinary, and osteopathic medical schools. The award is the only national initiative that honors individual institutions for being outstanding examples of colleges, universities, or health profession schools that are committed to making diversity and inclusion a top priority across their campuses.

The HEED Award’s rigorous application includes questions related to recruitment and retention of students and employees, continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion. The program looks for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into their everyday work 

In its 2020 application, UMSON highlighted three areas of innovation:

  • incorporating diversity and inclusion into faculty and staff performance reviews through the addition of annual learning objectives focused on cultural competence and/or education and training
  • integrating Restorative Justice practices into the UMSON community as a way of offering faculty, staff, and students tools to better communicate, solve problems, and nurture authentic relationships
  • the Booked for Lunch Club affinity group, which offers a platform for dialogue, cultural and racial awareness, and meaningful conversation through shared review of a broad array of diverse reading and media materials.

Continuing its leadership role within UMSON, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion kicked off “Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion,” a three-part series of half-day presentations and discussions for faculty and staff, on Wednesday, Nov. 4. 

The series, presented by Steven K. Ragsdale, MSL, will explore the role that Baltimore has played in shaping the world’s concepts on race, gender, and health care politics. Presentations will include “The Unknown, Untold Truth: The Roots of Inequity and Racism in Health Care” and “Nursing and Deconstruction of Systems and Historical Group Think. 

Ragsdale is a senior consultant and former administrator with more than 25 years of experience building and managing hospital operations, developing health care innovations, and advancing pathways to better and safer care. His work in diversity, equity, and inclusion is guided by his deep understanding of and desire to appreciate concepts that drive difference as a normal part of society and how it animates behavior and performance over time. Ragsdale now provides expertise on standards of diversity, equity, and inclusion across medicine, education, environmental justice, and the law. As a lecturer, he provides guidance to students and professionals seeking to understand the value of socio-ecological modeling in developing culturally competent systems.

“With our mission of developing leaders in education, research, and practice we cannot consider our ourselves highly effective without thoroughly embedding diversity and inclusion as core foundational principles,” said Jeffrey Ash, EdD, assistant professor and associate dean for diversity and inclusion. “As evidenced by our third HEED Award, our faculty, staff and students are becoming more aware and embracing our rich and vibrant working and learning environment where knowledge is created and shared. Through our teaching and learning, we will be relentless and unapologetic in our pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence. We will be intentional, leaving no stone unturned, in our attention to diversity details, our passion, and our profound commitment to pursuing and addressing diversity and inclusion in health and the health care of individuals, communities, and those underrepresented and marginalized.”


The University of Maryland School of Nursing, founded in 1889, is one of the oldest and largest nursing schools in the nation and is ranked among the top nursing schools nationwide. Enrolling nearly 2,100 students in its baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs, the School develops leaders who shape the profession of nursing and impact the health care environment.