DIMP 2.0

Why is this Important? The optometric profession has had challenges with racial and ethnic diversity of the student body since its inception; an issue shared by most health professions. There is a dearth of practicing optometrists who identify as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, or American Indian/Alaska Native, and this has remained stagnant for years. Schools and colleges of optometry train future generations of optometrists, therefore increased enrollment of members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups will lead to improved representation for the profession. It is often said that diversity is the key to excellence; increased diversity leads to a diversity of ideas, thoughts, and exponentially better solutions to problems that may arise. This is beneficial for all learners, educators, and employees, as it creates a more dynamic learning and working environment. Both didactic and clinical pedagogy, as well as the curriculum, will require updates to ensure graduating students are prepared to serve an increasingly diverse world. Professional development resources will also be vital to prepare our faculty to teach and support our students in new ways. Increasing representation within our student body has the potential to cultivate future faculty that are more representative of the patients treated at the University Eye Center (UEC) and the larger population. Given the challenges of increasing racial and ethnic diversity in our faculty and student body necessitates intentionality and a structured plan with short and long-term goals. To encourage a more diverse student, staff, and faculty the College needs to concurrently create a more supportive environment that fosters inclusion and retention. This extends far beyond racial and ethnic diversity into the myriad of other traditionally marginalized groups that exist in the College. Retaining individuals from these groups includes setting up supportive infrastructure including programs, training, and learning opportunities as well as intentional celebration of the diverse communities represented at the College. Everything from the way that the building is built, lit, structured, and arranged should be inclusive of the entirety of our community. In recent years there have been increased institutional resources allocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as well as increased interest in funding such initiatives from industry and philanthropic partners. Although there has been a reinvigorated effort to support diversity and inclusion, SUNY Optometry has been working to support these principles for years. The first SUNY Optometry Diversity and Inclusion Master Plan (DIMP 1.0) was released in 2016. The goals and strategies of that document laid the foundation for this report, with some sections utilized as a benchmark for progress.

The pursuit of these ideals also aligns directly with the SUNY Optometry Strategic Plan 2018-2023 in the following goals:

Goal 6: Cultivate an institutional culture that encourages a sense of community, inclusion, institutional pride, collective purpose, and shared responsibility Goal 7: To promote the growth and development of all members of the College community Goal 8: Enroll a highly qualified, diverse and engaged student body that will contribute to a vibrant community

SUNY Optometry | Diversity and Inclusion Master Plan 2.0 | 7

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