The events of the past several months have brought the ideals of Diversity, Inclusion & Equity to a fine focus. The Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology (DTCB) recognizes that we can improve the ways we recognize and foster diversity, and we are committed to doing so. The mission of DTCB remains to train the future generations of scientists and to produce high-quality biomedical research. But how we drive forward this mission is changing.
In the past two years, our Department has expanded its curriculum to include a degree in Forensic Toxicology. The incoming classes of Masters and Graduate students include nineteen students total, fourteen of whom are female and seven of whom are black/African American. Five out of the last six tenure-track appointment faculty members are women, continuing our Department's long-standing legacy of female equity.
Our Department Leadership is committed to establishing an environment that is as inclusive as possible. We want to be absolutely clear that we unequivocally condemn racism, bigotry and marginalization of any type.
Consistent with the University of Kentucky's Policy on Equal Opportunity and the Bias Incidence Support Services, DTCB strongly condemns bias based on a person's or group's actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnic origin, religion, creed, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, uniformed service, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, social or economic status, or wheter the person is a smoker, as long as the person complies with University policy concerning smoking.
Our future is to build a culture of anti-racism, anti-marginalization and anti-bias through communication, training and outreach. We want to ensure the success of our students, staff and faculty from diverse backgrounds by having open conversations and building nurturing support systems. Here, we have outlined some of the ways we will be addressing Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in the coming years:
- In our five-year strategic plan, we have mandated that at least once per semester we will invite a speaker who is not only an outstanding scientist, but who also comes from an under-represented background. Students will have the opportunity to meet with these speakers during lunch following the seminar and learn about their career paths and how they overcame obstacles. This semester, Dr. John Carpten, a highly successful African American scientist from UCSC, will present on October 28th, 2020.
- The Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Isabel Mellon, will collect the demographic and diversity information for each incoming class using an anonymous survey. This information will allow us to understand how to promote inclusion for all of our students, and direct us to find speakers who reflect the backgrounds of our students.
- Dr. Christine Brainson is serving as the DTCB's Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador. Each month Ambassadors from each Department in the College of Medicine meet with the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Stephanie White. Dr. Brainson will keep the DTCB up-to-date on new initiatives as they are rolled out.
- We have created a DTCB committee for Diversity, Inclusion & Equity. This committee will be comprised of our Chair Dr. Xiaoqi Liu, Dr. Isabel Mellon, Dr. Christine Brainson, Martin Lin, Pratik Thapa, Courtney Kelson and Tanner DuCote. We will hold 'listening sessions' and develop action plans to implement.
Lastly, while we put in place more comprehensive plans, we want to share with you some resources at the College and University Level:
- If you have been impacted by bias or identity-based violence, please contact bias Incident Support Services https://www.uky.edu/biss/
- Also at the University level in the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity. The office handles discrimination and harassment cares: https://www.uky.edu/eeo/discrimination-harassment
- We also have University-wide Diversity & Inclusion Officers. Dr. Stephanie White serves for the College, Dr. Cleo Price serves for Graduate Students, and Toni Smith serves for UK Research. These Officers are the people driving Diversity initiatives, so look to them if you have suggestions to move us forward. https://www.uky.edu/inclusiveexcellence/college-diversity-inclusion-offi...
We are actively seeking input from faculty, staff and students about how we can better foster an inclusive environment. Please do not hesitate to contact us with ideas.