University gets $3.5M to 'advance diversity, inclusion'

The Texas A&M University College of Dentistry in Dallas recently received a $3.5 million federal grant to “advance diversity in faculty and students."

TAMU is one of several schools to receive such grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which awards up to $8.7 million in COE grants total.

The Texas A&M University College of Dentistry in Dallas recently received a $3.5 million federal grant to “advance diversity in faculty and students."

The grant is an extension of a previous $3.4 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center of Excellence (COE) grant, according to Texas A&M, and is part of a larger grant program that disburses $8.7 million among up to 12 different schools.

There are three different categories for the grant: Hispanic COE, Native American COE, and an “Other” COE which covers “underrepresented minorities.”

The University of California Berkeley says it has been awarded $3.4 million which will fund a “Latino Center of Excellence,” and states that “the grant will support efforts to boost Latino youth interest in behavioral and mental health and encourage them to pursue undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in social welfare.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison says it was also awarded $1.3 million “to develop a comprehensive system of support services that will help admit, retain, and graduate 30 Native American nursing students over the next four years.”

[RELATED: Federal government awards UM $500,000 to research microaggressions]

According to Texas A&M, the grants are given out based on “six different criteria that relate to improving recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students and faculty or helping to strengthen education, research or service in areas relating to underrepresented minority health.”

The Health Resources & Services Administration website states that the recipients of the Center of Excellence program “serve as innovative resource and education centers to recruit, train, and retain [underrepresented minority] students and faculty at health professions schools.”

“Texas A&M College of Dentistry wants to be a resource for those institutions that want to increase the diversity of their students and faculty,” said Ernestine Lacy, director of the Texas A&M Center of Excellence, as well as a dentistry professor told Texas A&M

Lacy went on to explain that “[y]ou need the funding to offer these kinds of opportunities for both students and faculty and to continue to be a leader in this area,”

She also made an attempt to calm critics of the grant, arguing that “[w]e’re not trying to increase diversity just for the sake of diversity.”

“Increasing the number of students from underserved communities who are entering the health fields will potentially increase the number of practitioners who are more than likely to go back and serve those communities after they graduate.”

Dr. Ernestine Lacy, the director of TAMU's Center of Excellence, told Campus Reform  “The COE will serve as a catalyst for the College of Dentistry to further institutionalize its commitment to URMs (underrepresented minorities) and will enhance the College’s ability to serve as a national resource and educational center for diversity and minority health issues.”

More specifically, Brock says the grant will be geared to help “underrepresented minorities” such as “Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans.”

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