Statement of Our Commitment to Inclusion and Equity

June 22, 2020
JANICE CONWAY-KLAASSEN, DIRECTOR, MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENCES PROGRAM
George Floyd mural
Photo by Lorie Shaull

Today we move forward with resolve after the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Officers. Our students, faculty, staff, and community are still heartbroken, frustrated, and traumatized by the event. Over the past weeks, many people in the community are witnessing first-hand the anguish and fear that people of color and minority communities face every day. This is a pivotal moment in time.

It is more important now than ever that we advocate for justice and the eradication of systemic racism that has resulted in so much harm and senseless loss of life, bringing immense grief to our community. We continue to stand in solidarity with the Black communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color supporting their demand for justice.

We say unequivocally that we are committed to racial justice and equal opportunity in our Medical Laboratory Sciences program; to remove barriers and systems that impede or limit the access and success of students of color; and to work today, and every day in support of the role that education plays in advancing a more just and equitable society.

The MLS Program has been a steadfast leader in diversity and inclusion for students on this campus with an average of 42% of our students coming from ethnically diverse backgrounds compared to an average of 25% diversity for other undergraduate majors at UMN. As a primarily undergraduate healthcare profession, the MLS program at the University of Minnesota has become a gateway for diverse student populations to enter the healthcare workforce. We continue to have a strong commitment to education and support of students from diverse backgrounds. Our program has consistently addressed the issue of health disparities for medically underserved populations by engaging with 15 clinical sites in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) in greater Minnesota. The MLS program is highly committed to recruiting and supporting students from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds as they prepare to apply to the MLS Program, after admission, and after graduation.

Because this is part of our overall long-term mission and our MLS program’s culture, we applied for and are very pleased to announce, that we have received a $3.2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to fund Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students over the next five years.

The project will provide scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have financial need, including students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups; and to increase the number of primary care laboratory providers especially in medically underserved areas.

The University leadership is committed to being a leader, ensuring social justice reform amongst our community during this challenging time. President Gabel’s early and bold action that other universities and organizations are now following is a testament to our commitment to address the inequities based on race.

We are also very proud of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are already actively serving our communities the best way they can. From the Community-University Health Care Center holding a food drive, or volunteers cleaning up damaged neighborhoods, or individuals who are quietly donating to a local organization or cause, we thank you for making a difference. We encourage you to continue doing what you can to serve and support our community.

We invite you to join us in being part of the solution. The Office for Equity and Diversity offers some good places to start. The University of Minnesota Alumni Association, in partnership with the Black Alumni Network and the Multicultural Alumni Network, has also listed several organizations that need assistance, whether through your time, expertise, or financial contributions.

Of course, as always if you wish to provide support to the MLS Program and students, please feel free to reach out to Jireh Mabamba, our new Manager of Engagement & Alumni Relations, at: mabam001@umn.edu.