Highlighting real world examples of Social Mission Metrics concepts in practice.
Related social mission measurement(s): School Mission, Student Diversity, Faculty Diversity
(This text is an excerpt from Driving toward a culture shift: Case studies of social mission in nursing education)
Florida International University Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences (FIU NWCNHS) has achieved broad student and faculty diversity; 41–45% of students identify as Hispanic or Latino and 20–34% identify as Black or African American, depending on their degree program. The faculty is also diverse, with 40% identifying as Hispanic or Latino and 17% identifying as Black or African American.
The explicit mission at FIU NWCNHS is to educate diverse health care professionals. Their student breakdown by race and ethnicity largely mirrors the demographic of the local community. Many students at FIU NWCNHS work in addition to their studies, and the school offers flexible schedules to accommodate them. Because FIU NWCNHS is a state school, students can take advantage of lower tuition and have access to scholarships intended to retain bright students in-state. Holistic admission is also used, evaluating applicants not only on their academic strength, but on other attributes such as communication style, leadership experiences and overcoming life challenges.
The expectation of the administration, at both the FIU NWCNHS and the greater university, is that diversity is core to their identity. This means there are no incentives, special awards, or accolades for increasing diversity and inclusion. Leaders of FIU NWCNHS further suggest that key to this culture is ensuring that there is diversity among the faculty, which is critical to faculty-student interactions. One administrator reported deeper connections between faculty and students due to sharing similar backgrounds, which draw both to the school. As one faculty member, speaking about the deep connection between faculty and students of color put it, “we want to help students realize their dreams.” This, coupled with a holistic admissions process, underpins their approach to demanding diversity is a norm. A diversity and inclusion officer is available to support schools in their recruitment and retention efforts.
Students are also introduced to actions that affirm different cultural identities in their courses to enhance understanding of and appreciation for diversity. Community service is also emphasized, with the Dean at the NWCNHS and the President of FIU leading by example. All faculty have a 10 % service requirement, regardless of role or track, to provide services to the local community, college, university and national organizations.
When asked about replicability of their approach at other schools of nursing, school leaders and faculty acknowledge that because the Miami community is so diverse, it is easier to ensure diversity and inclusion. However, they also stressed their belief that the key to their success has been the emphasis on recruiting and retaining diverse faculty that reflect their student body, leading to improved ethnically diverse student retention and graduation rates. All schools, they suggest, could do better in this regard.