Tufts University School of Dental Medicine Receives Insight Into Diversity Magazine’s Inaugural Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

November 20, 2012

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Siobhan Gallagher

Jennifer Kritz

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BOSTON — Tufts University School of Dental Medicine is one of the recipients of the first annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.  As a winner of the HEED award—a national award honoring U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion—Tufts University School of Dental Medicine will be featured along with other recipients in INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s December 2012 issue.

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) based on its  diversity and inclusion initiatives, including a faculty development seminar series on diversity in dentistry; programs dedicated to increasing minority representation and retention within dentistry; diverse student groups, and outreach to promote oral health and access to care for underserved populations.

“Tufts University School of Dental Medicine is committed to inclusiveness, cultural competency, and diversity in dental education, clinical care, and community outreach. Our pipeline programs have expanded over the last decade and our 2012 seminar series for faculty on diversity in dentistry is thriving. Tufts Dental Facilities, a program focused on improving oral health care for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is a national model in addressing disparities,” said Huw F. Thomas, B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., dean of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.  “Our goal is to build upon our strong foundation and create an environment that helps to increase the presence of underrepresented minorities in the dental professions, contributes to a diverse leadership in dental education, and reduces disparities in oral health status.”

A number of TUSDM student organizations are dedicated to increasing the knowledge of different cultures, backgrounds, and religions. Student groups reflecting the diversity of the student body include the Student National Dental Association; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies Student Organization; Hispanic Dental Association; Muslim Dental Association, and Christian Medical Dental Society.

In order to improve cultural competency within the dental faculty, a series of six seminars on diversity was developed. The series, which began in September 2012, provides faculty with an opportunity to learn about classroom diversity, cross-cultural communications, disparities in health, and related topics.

The Massachusetts Hispanic Dental Association held symposia on dental careers for minorities at Tufts in 2011 and 2012. “The symposia fostered engagement among students and dental professionals within the larger community,” said Aidee Nieto-Herman, M.Sc.D., D.M.D., associate clinical professor in the Department of Periodontology at Tufts. Herman created the symposia and is the founder of the Massachusetts Hispanic Dental Association. She is also the faculty advisor to the student chapter of the Hispanic Dental Association at TUSDM, and former president of the Hispanic Dental Association.

Since 1976, the Tufts Dental Facilities (TDF) has been dedicated to providing oral health care to developmentally disabled individuals in Massachusetts. Each year, the program, which is recognized as a national model by the Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors, serves more than 7,000 patients at seven clinics within the state. Dental students are able to gain valuable skills through a learning experience focused on addressing the health needs of a minority population.

“We hope the HEED award serves as a reminder that diversity and inclusion must remain priorities in the 21st century higher education landscape.  Every college and university should recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion as being part of their everyday life on campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.  “Our students of today are the employees of tomorrow and the future of our country.  As students begin to enter the workforce and a global society, they must first be surrounded by and supported by faculty and staff that understand the differences among cultures and their needs.”

Other recipients of the HEED award include Georgia State University, Phoenix College, University of Minnesota, University of California, San Francisco, and Louisiana State University.

For more information about the HEED award, visit INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s website at www.insightintodiversity.com.

About Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

Founded in 1868, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) is committed to leadership in education, patient care, research and community service. Students obtain an interdisciplinary education, integrated with medicine, with access to training in dental specialties. Clinics managed at TUSDM provide quality comprehensive care to more than 18,000 diverse individuals annually, including those with special needs. Nationally and internationally, the School promotes health and educational programs and researches new procedures, materials and technologies to improve oral health.

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