Nursing receives diversity award

Nursing receives diversity award

The Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing has earned the 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for Health Professions Schools in recognition of its expanding efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

It marks the first time Loyola Nursing has received the prestigious national honor.

“The HEED Award recognizes the significant strides we have taken to create an environment of inclusive excellence and address diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism as critical building blocks to achieving—and maintaining—excellence,” Dean Lorna Finnegan said. “This award is deeply meaningful to the nursing school.”

The HEED Award is given annually by INSIGHT into Diversity, the largest diversity magazine in higher education and a leader in identifying best DEI practices in universities across the United States. Loyola Nursing will be featured with this year’s 63 other award recipients in the magazine’s November/December issue.

“Being named a HEED Award winner alongside other excellent nursing and health professions schools throughout the country places our inclusive excellence efforts among the best,” said Dian Squire, associate dean for inclusive excellence. “We could not be prouder of this honor, and we aspire to lead by example as we develop new ways to incorporate DEI into nursing education.”

Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity, noted that the magazine takes a detailed approach to reviewing award applications.

“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees—and best practices for both—continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” she said. “Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

The national recognition comes four years after Loyola Nursing launched its inclusive excellence initiative to further its commitment to social justice. Within higher education, inclusive excellence refers to an institution’s ability to value and engage the diversity of its community and promote success among students from all backgrounds.  

Since 2021, Loyola Nursing has increased its efforts to recruit and retain faculty and students of color through the CARE (Collaboration, Access, Resources, and Equity) Pathway to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Diversifying Faculty In Nursing Education postdoctoral program.  In September, the school hosted its first Inclusive Excellence Day conference, which drew students, faculty, and others from across the University and other schools, and will become an annual event.

Finnegan noted that inclusive excellence is integral to the school’s mission of promoting health equity, and one of its goals is to help create a more diverse nursing workforce that mirrors the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.  

“Having more nurses of color, with their understanding of the social determinants of health that impact their communities, is a tangible step toward reducing health disparities,” she said.