OUWB Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council looks ahead with new leadership, members
Students at Chandler Park
The Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council works to ensure compliance with Oakland University’s Strategic Plan Goal No. 4: “Advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in an environment of mutual trust and respect at all levels of the institution and facilitate opportunities and success for all community members.”

To solidify an environment of inclusive excellence, the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (OUWB DEIC) has been reframed with new members and new leadership.  

The changes were announced jointly by Duane Mezwa, M.D., FACR, Stephan Sharf Interim Dean, OUWB, professor, Diagnostic Radiology and Molecular Medicine, and Deirdre G. Pitts, Ph.D., SCP-IPMA, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Faculty Affairs, Diversity & Inclusion, assistant professor, Foundational Medical Studies.

The OUWB Diversity Council was created in 2013 as a means to give a voice to medical students, faculty, and staff. The purpose of the council is to redouble efforts in ensuring OUWB is a safe environment where learning and engagement on all levels take place.

The council works to ensure compliance with Oakland University’s Strategic Plan Goal No. 4:

“Advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in an environment of mutual trust and respect at all levels of the institution and facilitate opportunities and success for all community members.”

Two new assistant deans for diversity have been named to the OUWB DEIC. They are Tracey Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor, Foundational Medical Studies, and Robert McClowry, M.D., assistant professor, Family Medicine and Community Health.

They join Dawn Jung, M.D., and Thomas Guerrero, M.D., in the council’s efforts to: 

  • develop strategies for fostering a sense of belonging for students, faculty and staff within OUWB
  • promote an inclusive environment where students, faculty and staff feel safe and supported
  • provide training and development for students, faculty and staff and surrounding community
  • create and implement programs that bring diverse perspectives to the OUWB environment
  • collaborate with campus and community partners to recruit and retain a diverse population of students, staff, and faculty
  • coordinate services and programming that improves retention and transition for students from underrepresented populations

Further, the OUWB DEIC will continue to work in conjunction with the Oakland University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to provide a collaborative advisory context for sharing information across the OUWB community, developing strategies, making recommendations, and raising the visibility of the OUWB diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Council Structure

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is comprised of a broad representation of students, faculty and staff who are committed to a comprehensive concept of diversity. These individuals bring experience, expertise, and insights on school-wide diversity initiatives. Members typically serve on the council for two years.

The leadership of the council consists of two appointed co-chairs that will be identified by the council membership. The associate dean for Academic Affairs, Faculty Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion serves as an ex-officio member to provide support and guidance as necessary and serves as a liaison between the Diversity Council and OUWB leadership, sharing strategic and institutional updates to the council.

Earlier this year, the Office of OUWB Diversity & Inclusion invited students, faculty, and staff to take a brief survey on why they might want to be on the council.

Responses generally expressed a strong desire to further OUWB’s efforts to create a culture inclusive to all people. Many people used the opportunity to shed light on experiences they had before coming to OUWB.

“As a minority, I know the importance of creating a culture inclusive to all people,” wrote one student. “Before medical school, I experienced institutions where there was little effort in making the environment inclusive. This resulted in very little support and encouragement for minorities. At the time, these experiences had a negative impact on my well-being. I learned to grow stronger from them, but I want to use these experiences to create an environment at OUWB where no student has to go through what I had to endure.”

Others expressed similar sentiments.

“Growing up, I constantly had to break down gender norms in my community in order to pursue a career in medicine and this has made me passionate about promoting women’s leadership in medicine,” wrote another student.

Twenty-four people have been named to the council. They are:

Students

  • Cheyenna Espinoza , Class of 2021
  • Grace Kummerfeld, Class of 2022
  • Kala Seawright, Class of 2021
  • Kevin Roby, Class of 2022
  • James Blumline, Class of 2022
  • Belinda Asare, Class of 2020
  • Aryana Sharrak, Class of 2021
  • Varneet Brar, Class of 2022

Faculty

  • Claudio Cortes, Foundational Medical Studies
  • Verna Taranikanti, Foundational Medical Studies
  • Suzan ElSayed, Foundational Medical Studies
  • Jason Wasserman, Foundational Medical Studies
  • Rennard Tucker, Diagnostic Radiology
  • Lori Stec, Ophthalmology
  • Sherry Viola, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Staff

  • Berkley Brown, Student Affairs
  • Maurice Kavanagh, Clinical Skills Center
  • Janail Silver, Registrar
  • Robin Rivest, Medical Education
  • Trixy Hall, Administration
  • Michelle Mich, Admissions
  • Ann Voorheis-Sargent, Faculty Development
  • Jeremy Jones, Financial Services