OHSU Anti-Racism Action Plan

Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS
Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS

OHSU has three missions: to heal, to teach and to discover. Infusing them all is a fourth: to become a truly anti-racist and multicultural institution.

OHSU President Danny Jacobs called on the OHSU community to join him in this journey in May 2020, in the wake of the violent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

“We cannot permit the loss of any more lives by sitting idly by and simply hoping for change,” he wrote. “We must shatter the structural racism that perpetuates these cruel acts against people of color. The time to end racist-fueled discrimination and brutality is now.”

Since then, OHSU has launched a wide range of efforts toward this goal, and strengthened programs already in place.

OHSU culture

Anti-Racism and Social Justice Taskforce

Dr. Jacobs created this task force to:

  • Identify, document and report on barriers to staff and students of color.
  • Gather feedback from the OHSU community.
  • Recommend changes.
  • Monitor and report progress to the OHSU community.

The committee has broad representation from communities of color. It includes members from Employee Resource Groups, faculty, students and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

New leadership role

Derick Du Vivier, M.D., M.B.A.
Derick Du Vivier, M.D., M.B.A.

OHSU appointed Derick Du Vivier, M.D., M.B.A., as senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Dr. Du Vivier reports directly to Dr. Jacobs. He is responsible for measurable actions to bring the university closer to having an anti-racist and multicultural environment.

Unconscious Bias Program

Training: All OHSU staff and students are highly encouraged to take part in unconscious bias training from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Training is required for all managers who make hires.

Inclusion Ambassador Program: Employees volunteer or are nominated to become trained ambassadors. Ambassadors strive to make anti-bias approaches part of OHSU’s culture. They work in their departments to:

  • Deepen understanding of unconscious bias after training.
  • Develop strategies to help colleagues use anti-bias approaches.
  • Share best practices with the unconscious bias team and one another.
Learn why OHSU leaders think it’s important for the OHSU community to have unconscious bias training.

Sharing information

  • The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is working with Dr. Karen Eden to add anti-racism resources to OHSU’s "Respect for All" smartphone app.  (Find the app in the Apple App Store and Google Play.) Status: Expected to be done in 2022.
  • The center worked with OHSU Library Services to create an anti-racism and health-disparity resources web page.

Diversity Advisory Council

The Diversity Advisory Council advises the president and the executive leadership team on ways to enhance diversity, multiculturalism and equal opportunity across OHSU.

Initiatives include everything from helping units understand the business case for diversity to providing resources for employees, students and community members.

Anti-racist funding opportunities

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of the Provost are offering Racial Equity and Inclusion Anti-Racist Funding Opportunities. Twenty awards of $10,000 each will be given to projects that promote diversity goals and anti-racist behavior.

The funding opportunities aim to:

  • Encourage faculty, staff and students to confront racism and the intersectionality of race and sexism, classism, homophobia, ageism and ableism.
  • Promote anti-racist practices in recruitment and retention in education programs.
  • Support development of education initiatives and policies that value equity and inclusion.

Status: Proposals were due Oct. 15, 2021. 

StoryCorps and StoryShare

StoryCorps: OHSU takes part in StoryCorps, a national project to record and archive conversations. Patients, staff members and others from a range of backgrounds take part.

StoryShare: At OHSU, the StoryCorps project includes StoryShare, a joint effort of the Patient Experience team and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. StoryShare captures interviews with people from the OHSU community who identify as a member of an underrepresented group. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion creates a toolkit for each recording that groups can use for reflection and discussion.

Additional initiatives

  • OHSU has joined a project across institutions called “Stepping In: Creating a Culture of Respect and Inclusion.” The project seeks to improve the health care environment for patients and health care teams. It includes classes on topics such as implicit bias and structural racism in medicine.
  • Dr. Derick Du Vivier, OHSU’s senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, testified before state lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 398. The bill makes it a crime to display a noose, with penalties of up to 364 days behind bars and a $6,250 fine. The bill passed the Legislature, and Gov. Kate Brown signed it into law on June 11, 2021 .
  • The university introduced an Inclusive Language Guide.

Policies and practices

Department of Public Safety review

Dr. Jacobs created a task force to review the operations, use of force and structure of the OHSU Department of Public Safety. The task force includes community members; members of OHSU Employee Resource Groups and the Anti-Racism Committee; and members of the administration, faculty and staff. Status: In progress.

Review of policies on racist, sexist, harassing behavior

A committee is reviewing policies on protecting and supporting health care providers  after acts of violence or racism by patients. They include:

Status: The committee will send recommendations to Dr. Jacobs; seek review and recommendations from the OHSU community and the Policy Committee; and present outcomes to the OHSU Board.

Review of HR practices

OHSU hired a consulting firm to help make sure HR practices are consistent with OHSU’s anti-racism and equity values. Status: An action plan is being put in place.

Review of Food and Nutrition Services

A culturally progressive HR firm was hired to review Food and Nutrition Services’ workplace climate. Status: An action plan is being put in place.

Additional initiatives

  • OHSU is revising its Code of Conduct. Changes include making the display of hateful imagery a violation that can lead to termination. 
  • OHSU ended its laundry contract with Oregon Correction Enterprises, which uses prison labor.

Hiring

Human Resources initiatives

The Human Resources Department has a range of initiatives to:

  • Make hiring more equitable
  • Recruit and support people of color
  • Collect data
  • Instill accountability

Search Advocate Program: This program trains, supports and manages volunteer employees to serve as consultants. The consultants help hiring managers and search committees lessen the effects of unconscious biases in the hiring process. Status: The first 50 consultants are trained.

Hires: The department is in the process of adding:

  • An employee to gather data on the experiences of employees who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
  • An employee to create well-being programs for BIPOC employees.
  • An employee to support BIPOC employees.

Center for Diversity and Inclusion hires

The center has hired:

  • A diversity communications specialist
  • An associate director
  • A program manager for education programs
  • Four diversity education trainers

Recruitment and support of Black employees

OHSU created a plan of action in response to a call for “14 points of action” by the Black Employee Resource Group. The group seeks better “support, recruiting, retaining, equitable training and promotional opportunities” for Black employees. Status: In progress.

Employee support

Employee Resource Groups

  • New bylaws: OHSU worked with Employee Resource Group leaders to rewrite bylaws with affirming language and with a focus on equity and anti-racism. Status: Ratified in March 2021.
  • Payment for leaders: OHSU ended a “diversity tax” on Employee Resource Group leaders. As of March 2021, four leadership positions per group are each paid a $250 monthly stipend. 

Black History Month events

OHSU worked with the Black Employee Resource Group and student groups to create  Black History Month 2021 events. The speaker series and other events focused on anti-racism:

  • "The Oregon Remembrance Project — History of Racism In Oregon" by Taylor Stuart
  • "The Lived Experience of Data: Racism in Health Care" by Jodi-Ann Burey
  • "Environmental Justice: The Connection Between Pollution, Unequal Protection and Vulnerability" by Robert Bullard
  • A day of mourning
  • A discussion on health policy and how it relates to the health equity of Black communities

Additional initiatives

  • OHSU added an annual day of paid leave to honor Juneteenth.
  • OHSU is finding and eliminating pay inequities.
  • The university is taking steps to support OHSU members who feel especially visible and isolated as single members of underrepresented groups in many of our units.
  • OHSU is supporting faculty- and staff-created programs designed to promote health equity.

Education

Admissions policy

Then-Provost Elena Andresen chaired a committee to review admissions policies with an anti-racism lens.

Status: A policy enacted March 5, 2021, requires that all admissions staff and committee members undergo unconscious bias and anti-racism training. Admissions committees also must include trained faculty observers and members with diverse and/or underrepresented backgrounds or experiences.

Faculty Observer Program

This program will train, support and manage faculty members who become volunteer consultants. Consultants will help admissions committees enact practices to lessen the effects of unconscious bias in the admissions process. Status: Starting in August 2021.

Center for Diversity and Inclusion internships

  • Equity Research Program: College students spend eight to 10 weeks in summer working with faculty and graduate students in a research setting. Applicants choose from a variety of OHSU departments and programs.
  • Ted R. Lilley CURE program: Disadvantaged high school students who are interested in biomedical research and other health-related programs get experience in science and research. It’s sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Knight Cancer Institute. 
  • Vollum Institute/neuroscience internships: College students gain research experience in neuroscience. The program is designed for students who plan to attend graduate school in the field.

Foster Respectful and Equitable Education project

The FREE initiative aims to:

  • Create a respectful learning community
  • Provide an equitable and culturally inclusive education

The project includes workshops, other events, and a range of materials. It will support OHSU academic programs as they meet a requirement to review and report work toward diversity, equity and inclusion.

Mike Lewis kisses his daughter, Kyna Lewis, during a blanket ceremony at the Wy’east Post Baccalaureate Pathway graduation ceremony in June 2019.
Mike Lewis kisses his daughter, Kyna Lewis, during a blanket ceremony at the Wy’east Post Baccalaureate Pathway graduation ceremony in June 2019. The program prepares American Indian/Alaskan Native students for medical school.

Additional initiatives

  • The School of Medicine’s Wy’east Post-Baccalaur­­­eate Pathway prepares American Indian/Alaskan Native students for medical school.
  • The Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation offers a Surgery Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Visiting Subinternship Scholarship.
  • The School of Medicine created an Equity and Justice Subcommittee of the Undergraduate Medical Education program’s Curriculum Committee. The subcommittee will develop and improve curriculum to eliminate health inequities and to promote an anti-racist medical education.
  • The School of Medicine is working to root out practices that result in less aggressive care for patients of color.
  • A new Faculty Diversity Intervention Team will work to recruit and retain faculty diverse in gender, ethnicity and race. 
  • The School of Medicine is encouraging faculty and staff to share their gender, race and ethnicity in employee records to help OHSU hold itself accountable for progress.

Research

Racial Equity and Inclusion Center

This one-year pilot program aims to create a "hub and spoke" model of support for racial equity work in the research mission. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is serving as a resource and adviser on projects, to make sure they fit overall goals and use resources efficiently.

Fellowship for Diversity in Research

This program strives to increase diversity by recruiting scientists who identify as members of a racial or ethnic group underrepresented in STEM. Fellowships are available for postdoctoral training in all areas of scientific study at OHSU. OFDIR fellows receive mentored training as well as a chance to build community.

Additional initiatives

  • Labs are required to submit plans for how they will practice anti-racism. Plans will be analyzed to identify best practices.
  • A series of town halls that started Aug. 13, 2021, focus on anti-racism. They aim to:
    • Promote best practices in labs.
    • Solve problems related to racism in scientific data and how it’s shared.

COVID-19 care

  • Crisis care guidelines: OHSU used an equity and anti-racism focus in writing guidelines for the use of scarce resources.
  • Vaccine Equity Committee: OHSU created a committee, with BIPOC representation, to make sure Oregon communities of color and other historically marginalized groups have access to vaccines. The committee has been working with community groups to hold vaccine clinics specifically for these communities.
  • Reaching underserved communities: OHSU has made COVID-19 testing and vaccines available to underserved communities with a van program.

Accountability

OHSU Board of Directors updates

Read materials and watch livestreams and recordings of OHSU board meetings. Find more, including a meeting schedule and a meeting archive, on our Board of Directors page.

Health disparities hub and dashboards

OHSU has started a three-year effort to create a health disparities data hub and dashboards. The goal is to use this data to form policies and processes that improve the health and well-being of communities of color in Oregon and beyond.

Status: The Center for Diversity and Inclusion has formed a partnership with OHSU Health and the OHSU School of Medicine. The project has hired a data analyst and a quality analyst.

Unconscious bias training dashboard

OHSU has created a dashboard to track participation in unconscious bias training. The model can be adapted to track participation in other equity and anti-racism efforts.

Anti-racism news for the OHSU community