The inaugural OUWB Diversity Champion cohort graduated this week, and is set to have a big role in furthering the school’s commitment to being a diverse learning environment.

Inaugural OUWB Diversity Champion cohort graduates, looks to improve community
Diversity Champions Cohort 1 Group
The inaugural OUWB Diversity Champion cohort graduated this week. The cohort consists of nearly 30 graduates representing various aspects of the OUWB community.

The inaugural OUWB Diversity Champion cohort graduated this week, and is set to have a big role in furthering the school’s commitment to being a diverse learning environment.

The Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEIC) kicked off the new Diversity Champion program on February 5. 

OUWB DEIC 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 was reframed in 2019 with members from staff, faculty, residents, and students.

In 2020, DEIC recommended creation and implementation of the Diversity Champion program to extend and deepen the commitment to OUWB’s diverse learning environment.

The inaugural cohort consists of nearly 30 graduates representing various aspects of the OUWB community.



“I view this event as a reaffirmation of the school’s commitment to the mission of diversity and inclusion, and the progress we continue to make as we grow into a culturally sensitive OUWB community,” said Deirdre Pitts, Ph.D., associate dean, Academic, Faculty Affairs, and Diversity & Inclusion.

Pitts said the training sessions were “intense and completely immersive,” and group members leaned on each other to yield the most effective results.

“The interaction was honest and open and unforgettable,” she said. “I believe these champions will have a positive impact in the OUWB community as they carry out the pledge to nurture an inclusive environment.”

The graduation ceremony included presentations by six people who each reflected on their experiences throughout the training.

Diversity Champions Cohort 1“In Diversity Champion training, I’ve listened to diverse perspectives and stories,” said Kimberley Anyadike, a second-year medical student at OUWB. “To listen and learn from stories which diverged from our own is to ignite a fire that cannot be extinguished, as long as we commit to using the tool we’ve learned here that encompass inward reflection to bring about outward change.”

Doug Gould, Ph.D., professor of Anatomy and Neuroscience and chair of the Department of Foundational Medical Studies, OUWB, said the Diversity Champion training sessions were unlike anything he’s experienced. He said this was due, in large part, to “great amounts of vulnerability, self-exploration, and reflection.”

“It was incredibly powerful,” he said. “I learned more than I could have possibly hoped, and I’m very much looking forward to applying what I’ve learned.”

Katie Wheeler, second-year medical student, OUWB, credited the program’s success to the engagement among those who participated in the training.

“This is a platform to hear perspectives with no power difference,” she said. “You can be vulnerable and honest, and that was really beautiful.”

Others who presented their reflections on involvement with the Diversity Champion training were: Arthur Rosner, M.D., associate professor, Clinical Surgery; Julie Strong, Embark program coordinator; and Monique Waltman, a third-year medical student.

The graduation ceremony also included a recitation of the OUWB Diversity Champion Oath, as well as comments from guest speakers Glenn McIntosh, senior vice president for student affairs and chief diversity officer, Oakland University, and Britt Rios-Ellis, Ph.D., executive vice president of Academic Affairs and Provost, Oakland University.

OUWB Stephan Sharf Dean Duane Mezwa, M.D., thanked all of the graduates for “having the courage and determination to be in this very first cohort.”

“I’m really pleased that we’re celebrating this inaugural graduation of the Diversity Champion program,” he said.

Mezwa noted the positive reception of the program from the get go.

“It indicated that the OUWB community was really ready for the challenge, and ready to accept the training that would give them the tools to elevate their support of diversity and inclusion at OUWB.”

Mezwa also said, with regard to the Diversity Champion program, that “timing is everything.”

“Now, more than ever, as a society, as human beings, it’s time to dial up our cultural awareness,” he said.


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Pitts thanked the Diversity Champion program planning committee for its commitment.

Robin Rivest, M.Ed., director of Curriculum Data Management, led the Diversity Champion program with a team comprised of other DEIC members.

Those team members were Pitts, Tracey Taylor, Ph.D., interim assistant dean for Preclinical Medical Education, Berkley Browne, Ph.D., assistant dean for Student Affairs, Suzan ElSayed, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies, Ann Voorheis-Sargent, Ph.D., director, Center for Excellence in Medical Education, and third-year medical student Kevin Roby.  

Pitts said their work is likely to have an impact on schools other than OUWB, and announced a poster on the program will be presented during a national conference hosted by the Association of America Medical Colleges’ Group of Educational Affairs.

“The positive reaction from the (OUWB) community has encouraged the committee to share the program with peers from medical schools across the country,” she said.

Pitts concluded the ceremony by announcing that the call for the next Diversity Champion cohort will be issued in June with training to begin in the fall.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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