Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Public Health Sciences peer advisors

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) has a long history of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through rigorous research, innovative teaching, and authentic community engagement. Founded in 1973, the School of Health Sciences at UMass Amherst was led by Dr. William A. Darity, the first African-American student awarded a PhD by the University of North Carolina. After earning his PhD in Public Health in 1964, Dr. Darity worked for the North Carolina Fund, an anti-poverty organization that became the model for President Johnson’s War on Poverty legislation. As Dean of the School of Health Sciences in 1973 he launched the accreditation process for the School of Public Health. Dr. Darity’s leadership and research demonstrated that societal factors such as systemic racism and discrimination are among the root causes of ill health and disparities among diverse populations. Today, SPHHS aims to provide a sustaining intellectual home for our diverse faculty and students to ensure their flourishing. We are committed to the success of students from historically underrepresented groups. Our faculty, staff and students have invaluable experience working hand in hand with community partners to create better health for all. Several SPHHS units address diversity, equity, and inclusion in research, practice and education, including:

The Center for Community Health Equity Research. The Center for Community Health Equity Research (CCHER) brings together researchers with diverse disciplinary expertise to investigate health disparities and disseminate findings to promote health equity. CCHER aims to improve the recruitment and retention of students from under-represented groups in health-related professions by building on and supporting existing pipeline initiatives for first-generation and minority students. Our culture-centered research aims to identify and implement novel interventions to improve mental health, manage chronic illness and build community resilience.

The Office of Public Health Practice and Outreach. For over two decades the Office for Public Health Practice and Outreach (OPHPO) has served to build and sustain its ongoing commitment to campus and community partnerships that advance the community’s health, students’ education, and faculty research and service efforts. In partnership with the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network, the OPHPO organizes a bi-annual Western Massachusetts Health Equity Summit.

Our Commitment to Anti-Racism. Faculty, staff, and students in the SPHHS share a commitment to anti-racism and a healthier, more just society. Dean Anna Maria Siega-Riz created the Anti-Racism Task Force to support the school's call for anti-racism with action. 

For more information on the School's diversity initiatives, contact Associate Professor of Communication Disordders and Director of Diversity Advancement Nathaniel Whitmal at nwhitmal@comdis.umass.edu.