Texas A&M: Texas A&M College Of Pharmacy, CVMBS Receive National HEED Award For Diversity

The Texas A&M University Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy and the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences have been recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for their outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

As winners of the 2021 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, announced on Oct. 14, the College of Pharmacy and the CVMBS will be featured in the December 2021 issue of the magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

A first-time HEED Award recipient, the College of Pharmacy seeks to provide a rich learning environment for individuals from all backgrounds to learn, grow and thrive through a strategic plan that includes an emphasis on well-being, diversity and inclusion.

Named one of the top 50 college of pharmacy by U.S. News and World Report, the college boasts one of the most diverse student populations among all pharmacy schools in the nation. Among the 443 students enrolled in the college, 54% are underrepresented minorities (URM) and it has a retention rate of 93% in recent years (2017-2020), compared to an 88% national retention rate.

Among the 443 students enrolled in the college, 54% are underrepresented minorities (URM) and has a retention rate of 93% in recent years (2017-2020), compared to an 88% national retention rate.

“The College of Pharmacy embraces and values diversity and is committed to achieving a thriving, inclusive community. We are steadfast in following in the vision of our namesake, District 35 State Representative Irma Lerma Rangel, who was dedicated to improving health care access to our underserved communities here in South Texas,” said Indra Reddy, founding dean of the College of Pharmacy. “We are thankful for leaders like Irma Rangel, and the leaders of today like Chancellor Sharp, who continue to prioritize efforts that lead to a more inclusive culture in our university and beyond. We strive to lead by example.”

The College of Pharmacy is one of only three pharmacy colleges in the nation to be selected to receive a 2021 HEED award.

It was selected for its multitude of resources, events, training and varied efforts, including, but not limited to, matriculation agreements with Hispanic-serving institutions; its Aggie Student Pharmacists Initiative for Recruitment|Retention and Education (ASPIR2E) program, geared toward recruiting unrepresented minority (URM) students and first-generation students; committees focused on well-being, student success and diversity; a number of strategic partnerships and community initiatives; a $12,000 diversity donation grant awarded by Walgreens to increase diversity among pharmacists; and awards from the Texas A&M University Offices for Diversity and the Provost.

Joining the College of Pharmacy in earning this distinction is the CVMBS, one of only two veterinary colleges in the U.S. to receive the recognition for five consecutive years.

“During my time as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, I have witnessed the hard work and commitment of our faculty, staff, and students as they prioritize creating an environment that is welcoming, supportive, and safe for everyone who enters our doors,” said Dr. John R. August, CVMBS dean. “We are extraordinarily proud to have received the HEED award for five consecutive years, and we have no intent of resting our laurels.

“Veterinary medicine remains the least diversified of the health professions and our college recognizes the importance of a broad approach to fostering an inclusive environment of respect, understanding, appreciation, and opportunity,” he said.

The CVMBS Office of Diversity & Inclusion, led by Dr. Kenita Rogers, and the Committee for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Accountability (C-IDEA) have also developed a number of new activities and initiatives designed to promote inclusion, diversity and access.

These include an activity supporting the CVMBS LGBTQ community that raised $1,850 in support of a student-led fundraiser for The Trevor Project; a Welcome Week that included an inclusivity and campus resources fair and a “Power of the Words We Use” panel discussion; and storytelling activities.

Within the DVM program, students participated in discussion groups on diversity and inclusion-related podcasts in a professional skills class and the CVMBS’ Professional Programs Office facilitated meetings between students and corporate veterinary practices regarding LGBTQ practices.

DVM students also supported Texas A&M’s REACH Project and the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Operation Lone Star by offering free wellness check-ups and vaccinations to the pets of owners with reduced access to veterinary care.

These new initiatives expand upon the college’s strong student organizations that are dedicated to supporting a welcoming learning environment.