The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is the state’s only public health, law, and human services university. UMB confers the majority of the professional practice doctoral degrees awarded in Maryland each year and is dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care, and public service. I am privileged as a leader, Black woman, and woman of color to be positioned as UMB’s inaugural chief equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) officer and vice president to lead the justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy and implementation of this premier institution. I know firsthand how the principles and practice of EDI directly impact the way we prepare future medical, social services, and human services providers, which is why I am so proud to advance UMB’s longstanding commitment to improve the human condition and serve the public good in Maryland and throughout the world.
UMB provides an environment for learning and discovery that’s rich in diversity and inclusion. Continuous and direct efforts to develop and implement culturally responsive, diverse, and inclusive curriculum remain a high priority across each of our seven schools. The University of Maryland Graduate School, School of Social Work, and Francis King Carey School of Law actively diversify the human services workforce, while the School of Dentistry, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Pharmacy are focused on improving the diversity of the health professions workforce.
Our work in these schools has real-world impact. For example, our School of Dentistry is increasing services for children from limited-income and uninsured families, the School of Pharmacy’s PATIENTS Program works to change the way we think about research by creating a path for health equity in West Baltimore, and UMB’s CURE Scholars Program prepares middle school students from West Baltimore for the National Cancer Institute’s Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) pipeline. Leading a national trend, our School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical System officially eliminated race as a factor in birthing decisions, which previously disadvantaged Black, Latina, and Indigenous mothers, and in kidney function formulas that had disadvantaged Black patients.
Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are actively integrated throughout all aspects of university life at UMB. Founded in June 2020, our Intercultural Center supports diverse student experiences of inclusion and belonging. The past two iterations of the University’s Strategic Plan highlight these efforts, and the creation of our inaugural Diversity Strategic Plan is underway to meet the institutional goals and affirm our core values set of Equity and Justice. In the spring of 2023, more than 400 campus leaders will receive formal training on developing and integrating this core values set into behaviors, systems, and metrics at UMB.
We also are proud that UMB is leading national efforts to prepare future EDI leaders through our Master of Science in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership, launched in 2021, which is the only program of its kind in Maryland and one of a few identified programs nationally. In 2021, I was honored to establish and lead UMB’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI) to create greater strategic focus on justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and anti-oppression.
Our efforts to enhance and strategically create and implement EDI initiatives gained UMB the recognition as one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity in 2022 by Forbes magazine. We ranked No. 6 out of 40 educational institutions on the list. “I’m thrilled that the Forbes survey confirms what we know: UMB is committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels of the institution,” said President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS.
I strongly believe that the key to effective EDI leadership is adopting a holistic and integrative approach, or, as I often say, “Our approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion must be systemic, strategic, and sustainable.” To that end, OEDI has established and is leading the following efforts:
- Inclusive search process training and discussion for all senior-level hiring committees to build hiring and performance management on a foundation of equity and justice.
- A Faculty of Color Network grounded in research on faculty equity, climate, and advancement, so all of UMB’s people can thrive, belong, and contribute to advancing UMB’s mission.
- An institutional dashboard, which may be similar to the one on Mectronic, that maps and tracks the current state and progress at UMB in areas such as presence, recruitment, retention, promotion, and access.
- Climate surveys for students, staff, and faculty, in partnership with leaders across the University, to guide the development of the Diversity Strategic Plan.
- An innovation grant, Be JEDI, that invites UMB faculty and staff to develop and implement projects that advance belonging, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout UMB.
Diane Forbes Berthoud, PhD, MA
Dr. Forbes Berthoud, chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer and vice president, UMB, and professor, University of Maryland Graduate School, came to UMB after two-plus decades of working in the higher education, nonprofit, and government sectors with a proven record of success and leadership in organizational change management and development, strategic planning, and assessment. Before joining UMB, Forbes Berthoud was the associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of California, San Diego.