College of Optometry Receives "Insight Into Diversity" 2020 HEED Award

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State University College of Optometry received the 2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion Ohio State Optometry will be featured, along with 45 other recipients, in the December 2020 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. This is the second consecutive year Ohio State Optometry has been named as a Health Professions HEED Award recipient.

“While I am proud of our HEED award recognition for 2020, there is much work to do in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion in The Ohio State University College of Optometry,” says Dean Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD. “Our students, staff, and faculty are deeply committed to that work.”

The College of Optometry focused on several key initiatives to foster diversity and inclusion in 2020, including: reimagining the role of the college’s chief diversity officer to be more broadly integrated into the structure of the college; enhancing the admissions process for diverse underrepresented students by employing mitigation strategies against implicit bias and searching for inclusive behaviors in all applicants; educating all faculty, staff and students on implicit bias and anti-racism; engaging in purposeful relationship-building between diverse students and diverse alumni; integrating diversity, equity and inclusion in the policy documents that govern the college; and developing a pathway for diverse underrepresented students to become faculty. The college also updated its Improving Diversity in Optometric Careers program this year to be virtual, ensuring that this annual summer program continued its mission to attract underrepresented diverse undergraduate students from across the U.S. to learn about optics, eye anatomy, vision disorders as well as the College of Optometry admissions process.

“I am delighted that our efforts have been recognized with the HEED Award,” says Vondolee Delgado-Nixon, PhD, Associate Professor of Optometry and Chief Diversity Officer for the College of Optometry. ”We will continue our work to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within The Ohio State University College of Optometry, and to decrease health disparities for our patients. Our ability to treat diverse patients with equity and inclusivity is an integral part of our responsibility to provide the best care possible for all our patients. This is what it means to be a good optometrist.”

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

Ohio State Optometry proudly joins its campus health sciences peers on this esteemed list, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Nursing, and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.