SON Diversity & Inclusion Committee: 2020 Activities and Initiatives

On June 15, 2020, the School of Nursing (SON) convened a Town Hall meeting for students to share their feelings, thoughts and concerns about police violence against Black people and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests. Forty-one students, faculty and staff participated, sharing feelings, concerns and ideas for ways that the SON could address these issues beyond our previous efforts. As a result, the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion has been working closely with the Dean, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members to undertake several new initiatives to address inequity and racism within the SON.  We thought it was important to provide an update about these efforts to our SON community, and have therefore prepared the following summary of our recent activities and plans for the coming semester. 

Formation of Subcommittees

Based on feedback from our SON community, the SON Diversity and Inclusion Committee formed two subcommittees to address priority issues involving mentorship and diversity content in our curriculum. 

Mentorship Subcommittee

This subcommittee has partnered with SON alumni and professional nurses from our local community to establish a mentorship program for students, with an initial focus on students and mentors of color. The subcommittee surveyed all SON students to assess interest and needs; the majority of respondents indicated a high interest in a mentorship program. A pilot program providing support to a small number of students is underway for Spring 2021, and the subcommittee expects to expand the program to more students following the pilot phase.

Curriculum Subcommittee

This subcommittee was formed to assess current curriculum content about racism, diversity and health disparities. The subcommittee recently completed a content survey with faculty and analyses of those data are currently underway. Results will help gauge how elements of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice are threaded throughout nursing curricula. An open forum with faculty and staff will be planned for this semester to discuss those results and inform ongoing efforts to enhance inclusive pedagogy across the school curriculum. 

Events/Training Sessions

The Committee and SON hosted several events related to enhancing diversity, inclusion, equity and justice.

A panel of UB SON alumni and Black Nurses Rock leaders lead a candid discussion about issues surrounding race and racism in health care and nursing school.

Rev. George F. Nicholas, MDIV, shared the history of the African American Health Equity Task Force and Buffalo Center for Health Equity community partnership and the novel strategies they used to respond to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the African American, Latinx and other communities of color in Buffalo. Also discussed: the impact of social determinants of health on outcomes among African Americans in these communities.

Maura Belliveau, PhD, the inaugural director of the Center for Diversity Innovation and Distinguished Visiting Scholars program, led this workshop for SON faculty and staff. The purpose was to help participants gain an understanding of the science of “implicit” (and “explicit”) bias, and how each form of bias can adversely influence decision making and group interaction and yield inaccurate perceptions. Importantly, participants learned how to individually and collectively recognize and disrupt the effects of implicit bias, limit negative effects, and create more diverse, inclusive, and equitable healthcare settings.  


  • Weekly newsletter: Beginning in July, the Committee began sending a weekly Diversity & Inclusion e-newsletter to SON faculty and staff, which includes upcoming events (both internal and external); training opportunities; and links to articles, videos, books and websites related to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Website: A diversity and inclusion resources for nursing page was added to SON Diversity and Inclusion area of the School’s website. This area includes diversity and inclusion resources at UB; academic and peer support resources; and resources related to nursing education, practice and research. There is also a new searchable index of resources related to race, ethnicity and national origin within nursing education, research and practice. Resources will continue to be added over time. In the future, resources related to additional specific topics such as LGBTQ+ populations, economic/educational disparity/discrimination, gender and other topics will be added.
  • Display case: A display case outside 114 Wende Hall was outfitted with several items related to social justice, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community, and social determinants of health related to COVID-19, among other items.

Student Services/Academic Advising

SON students services has been diligently responding to suggestions posed by students during the open forum in June and will continue to monitor their programming and procedures to ensure that they best serve all prospective, intended and matriculated students. They have continued collaborating with student support programs outside SON, including EOP, ACE and Acker, and are pleased to report that 14 approved SON majors or intended nursing majors have been identified as Daniel Ackers Scholars and three intended SON majors have been identified as ACE students. In addition, student services has:

  • Added a post-advisement survey sent out to students the same day as their advisement appointment to evaluate student advisement experiences;
  • Delivered proactive advisement and outreach to struggling students; and
  • Reviewed written communications and verbal messaging delivered to ensure that all students are receiving consistent messaging about SON entrance requirements and the competitiveness of the program.

Plans for Spring 2021

The SON Diversity and Inclusion Committee is committed to maintaining momentum to fulfill our mission of fostering an environment that supports all individuals and values diversity, inclusion and equity. These elements are fundamental to our core values of integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect for diverse backgrounds and opinions, and excellence. We have already scheduled or are in the midst of scheduling several upcoming events that include a civility training for faculty and staff, a microaggressions training for faculty and staff, and an informational training about transgender and gender non-conforming sensitive care for students. We have a number of other initiatives in the planning stage and will update you each semester on our progress. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out with additional suggestions and please regularly check the SON Diversity and Inclusion website for information about our committee and ongoing initiatives. The committee can be contacted at or by reaching out directly to the Chair, Amy Hequembourg, Associate Professor, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, at

Published February 2, 2021

Questions or comments?

Contact the committee at