College of Optometry Receives "Insight Into Diversity" 2021 HEED Award

HEED Award Logo

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the third consecutive year, The Ohio State University College of Optometry has received the 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 2021 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 50 other recipients, in the December 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“The ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion displayed by College of Optometry students, staff, and faculty is remarkable,” says Dean Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD. “The prestigious HEED Award affirms our efforts and reminds us to keep fighting for what’s right.”

The College of Optometry continued its focus on several key initiatives to foster diversity and inclusion throughout 2021, including: 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 celebrated the 15th year of its Improving Diversity in Optometric Careers (I-DOC) program this year. The annual summer program attracts underrepresented diverse undergraduate students from across the U.S. to learn about health disparities in vision care and career opportunities in optometry, as well as strategies on how to be a successful student and a competitive applicant. Along the way, participants learn about how special Ohio State Optometry is, by interacting directly with students, faculty and staff.

Leading the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts is Vondolee Delgado-Nixon, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor and Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) for the College of Optometry. Now in her second year as CDO, she energizes and motivates students, faculty and staff to stay focused on diversity.

“Receiving the HEED Award inspires us to double down and do even more,” says Dr. Delgado-Nixon. “The work we do to build a welcoming, nurturing, and equitable environment at the College of Optometry goes far beyond our classrooms and clinics. When our students graduate, they enter the optometric profession prepared to provide the best possible care for all patients, and do so effectively and compassionately.”

“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,” says 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 Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and Veterinary Medicine.