The University of South Carolina has taken on a new priority initiative of diversity and inclusion, promoting representation and equality across the student, faculty and staff spectrums. Each college on campus has formed a position or committee to address diversity and equity within their respective units. In her new role as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the College of Nursing, assistant professor Dr. Tisha Felder will do just that.
Diversity is not a new focus for the College of Nursing. Before the University of South Carolina defined its diversity, equity and inclusivity initiative, the college was ahead of the curve with a diversity committee already in place. Dr. Felder, in her new role, has taken lead of the committee and is working to expand it to include more student, staff and faculty participation.
“This initiative is a way for us to break down silos and commit to improving the climate within our unit and the university as a whole as it relates to these diversity issues,” Felder said. “Within the college there’s a strong connection with wonderful leadership. Dean Andrews promotes cohesiveness within the college that will push us towards reaching these goals.”
In health care, both academically and professionally, diversity and inclusion are hot topics. Felder believes that it is important to better train people to interact with diverse populations and figure out how to diversify. These might be larger national challenges, but it starts here in education, creating a pipeline so that national goals can be achieved.
“We talk a lot about how our nation is becoming more diverse in terms of racial and ethnic backgrounds and, from a practice standpoint, about who our patients are. We have all these statistics that keep saying this, but we haven't really developed structure to address it. I see this role as a direct opportunity to figure out how we're going to address these changing dynamics,” Felder said.
Dr. Felder notes that there are many ways to define diversity; it is not just based on race, gender or sexual orientation.
“It’s diversity of experience and thought,” she said. “It is not only having faculty of color but also having faculty with different backgrounds, providing another way of looking at the same types of problems.”
During her first year in this position, Dr. Felder will focus on defining what the role is, what it is not and building a strategic plan that will give the position a strong foundation to build upon.