Bastyr University President Daniel K. Church, PhD, announced the creation of a Center for Social Justice and Diversity at the University’s Kenmore campus convocation September 29. The new Center will lead Bastyr’s efforts to address racial and economic inequality in health care.
The work begins at home, with a focus on infusing cultural competency and anti-racism education throughout classroom and clinical training at Bastyr. Promoting those commitments throughout University curricula will be the first charge for the center’s directors, Daniel C. Rosen, PhD, and Christy D. Hofsess, PhD, associate professors in the Department of Counseling and Health Psychology.
In his speech, Dr. Church laid out a broad overview of inequality in the United States, describing race, class, and other barriers that create a system in which, in the words of a health policy researcher, “your ZIP code is a better predictor of your health than your genetic code.”
“Deep in the DNA of the University is the commitment that there are no healthy individuals without healthy communities,” Dr. Church said.
He also described Bastyr’s challenge to live up to its ideals, thanking students and staff of color who have spoken about the insensitivity they have faced within the University. Their leadership prompted the University to form a task force and Diversity Committee to find ways to improve cultural awareness at Bastyr. The Diversity Committee, led by Dr. Rosen, has engaged in multiple social justice efforts in recent years. Those include the Michelle Eustache Human Library training event; a recent screening of “If These Halls Could Talk,” a film about racism in higher education; and an intensive faculty development session with veteran diversity trainer Lee Mun Wah.
The new center, funded by operating resources, will strengthen those efforts.
Dr. Church encouraged students to take up the work as well. He quoted Norman Francis, longtime president of Xavier University, in urging students to “not just go on to jobs and careers, but also contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society, and take on roles of leadership and service.”
The Center for Social Justice and Diversity joins the Center for Health Policy and Leadership and the Center for Mind, Body, Spirit and Nature.