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Arnold School of Public Health


Toni Torres-McGehee named Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

April 4, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

Toni Torres-McGehee, associate professor of exercise science and graduate director for the athletic training program, has been named associate dean for diversity, inclusion and equity for the Arnold School of Public Health. Torres-McGehee succeeds David Simmons, associate professor of anthropology and health promotion, education, and behavior, who was recently appointed as faculty principle for UofSC’s new Galen Health Fellows program.

“The Arnold School’s diversity, equity and inclusion search committee and administrative council strongly recommended Dr. Torres-McGehee for this position,” says Dean Thomas Chandler. “She has a deep understanding of and appreciation for all of the challenges around creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive climate in our context of the South and beyond.”

In her new role, Torres-McGehee plans to convene a committee of Arnold School stakeholders (e.g., faculty, staff, students, alumni) to finalize and implement a School-wide Diversity Plan. She intends to expand the inclusive nature of the Arnold School by fostering a culture that minimizes bias and recognizes systemic inequities.

Throughout these initiatives, Torres-McGehee will ensure the inclusion of new voices and expertise, especially from individuals of historically excluded groups (e.g., women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBT community members), in the decision-making process. By prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion, Torres-McGehee will lead the Arnold School in building an environment that respects and values individual and population-level differences along varying dimensions.

“I envision creating an inclusive, diverse community that facilitates our commitment to social justice, equity and humility for the communities we serve,” she says. “We must think beyond the mission and value statements in developing and implementing a plan that will make an appreciable difference. Our outcomes should not only be measured by the number of students and/or faculty representing diverse backgrounds on our campus, but also how well we enhance our campus climate or culture to improve the ongoing practice of cultural competence in learning, research services practices and work performance among all students, faculty and staff.”

I envision creating an inclusive, diverse community that facilitates our commitment to social justice, equity, and humility for the communities we serve.

-Toni Torres-McGehee, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion

Viewing the world through the lenses of diversity, equity and inclusion has been a lifelong practice for the Mexican-American minority. Torres-McGehee was born and raised in New Mexico, and at a young age observed the many hardships her poverty-stricken community faced. She leveraged her athletic skills to obtain basketball scholarships, earning an associate’s degree in general sciences from Cochise College and a bachelor’s degree in biology (minor in chemistry and sports medicine) from Southern Utah University.

The first-generation college graduate didn’t stop there. She immediately completed a master’s in sports health/preventive rehabilitation from Texas Tech University and then worked as an athletic trainer in Lubbock, Texas for the next three years. Earning a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from The University of Alabama in 2006, she joined the athletic training program at UofSC that same year. Since then, Torres-McGehee has established a robust research program and service record.

Both as a faculty member and the athletic training program’s graduate director, she has gained extensive experience educating and mentoring students at all levels and engaging in various administrative activities (e.g., budget oversight, accreditation, application and faculty reviews). Torres-McGehee also has a passion for program assessment and is playing a critical role in leading the athletic training program in its transition to become a professional degree program per the new requirements of the Commission on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education.

Torres-McGehee has participated in various leadership training opportunities that have directly prepared her for leading the Arnold School’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. In 2014-2015, she joined the first class of faculty for the Pipeline for Academic Leaders fellowship program sponsored by the Office of the Provost—an opportunity only possible through nomination by school/college deans. The following year, Torres-McGehee was one of four UofSC faculty members to complete the SEC Academic Leadership Development Program.

We are seeing a shift in our educational system, with institutions making a more conscious effort to not only meet the demands of educating a diverse student population but to recruit diverse faculty and enhance the campus climate.

-Toni Torres-McGehee, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion

In addition to these training programs, Torres-McGehee has held numerous service roles at both the school and university level (note: the athletic training program and faculty transitioned to the Arnold School from the College of Education in 2016). For the College of Education, she served on the Steering, Student Affairs, and Faculty Affairs Committees. As diversity chair, she evaluated and revamped their diversity plan, planned the annual diversity forum, and integrated programs inclusive to all staff, faculty and students. Among her many university appointments, Torres-McGehee has served as an executive board member for the Latino Faculty Caucus and committee member of the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and the University Athletics Advisory Committee.

“I am honored to be part of an institution that values and has a vision for diversity, equity and inclusion,” she says. “We are seeing a shift in our educational system, with institutions making a more conscious effort to not only meet the demands of educating a diverse student population but to recruit diverse faculty and enhance the campus climate.”