Center for Diversity Affairs Becomes Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

By Spencer Watson

“Since his arrival, Dr. Gittens has been a champion for what we’ve long called the Center for Diversity Affairs. In that effort, he recognized that, while diversity is essential, there are still other goals we must pursue to realize our full potential,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “Given that, Dr. Gittens has reorganized the center into the Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and, at his initiative, the vision and scope of this invaluable asset has expanded, engaging members of Team UAMS all across our statewide UAMS Health system.”

Gittens came to UAMS from the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was the associate dean for human resources, equity and inclusion.

“Our guiding principle is called inclusive excellence, which is essentially the idea that excellence and diversity do not have to be mutually exclusive goals. They are, in fact, complimentary. You cannot have excellence without diversity,” said Gittens. “You achieve inclusive excellence through intentionality, not just in patient care and teaching students, but in the culture and environment of the institution and how we treat each other as coworkers.”

As part of the reorganization, over the closing months of 2019, Gittens recruited a dozen leaders from throughout the institution to work together as a strategy team, helping achieve the goals outlined in the division’s strategic plan, which was itself written to align with the UAMS Vision 2029 plan.

“Our division is and always should be built around the idea of providing service and support to the rest of the institution. Obviously, you can’t do that if you live in silos and never seek input from elsewhere on or off campus,” said Gittens.

In addition to forming the strategy team, the division created seven subcommittees, each charged with advising division leadership on crafting and implementing policy regarding various traditionally underrepresented minority groups: recruitment and retention of minority faculty, staff and students, veterans, women, LGBTQ+ individuals and those with disabilities. Each subcommittee is co-chaired by faculty and comprised of volunteers from all over the institution.

“Our intent is to shape policy with a view that is informed by a ‘grassroots’ perspective,” said Gittens. “We sought and continue to seek those who are passionate about representation and are willing to advocate for these identified groups by being a voice for them as we pursue our strategic objectives and work to become a national leader in diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The division has added a new full-time office administrator and two faculty members who serve in part-time positions — Gloria Richard-Davis, M.D., MBA, as the executive director for diversity, equity and inclusion, and Rosemary Nabaweesi, Dr.P.H., as the senior director of research and evaluation.

The reorganized division has already launched a new initiative intended to support the entire institution. The Office of Intercultural Education has been created to offer learning experiences that help increase awareness of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, specifically through its Academy of Inclusive Excellence. The Academy will offer training exercises for employees throughout UAMS to better understand and practice inclusive excellence.

More information and registration for Academy learning activities can be found on the division’s new website — The division also plans to produce a newsletter called Kaleidoscope in the spring.

“We’re very excited about the work we’re doing, and we hope the rest of Team UAMS is as well,” said Gittens. “Beginning this month, we will start announcing a number of new opportunities and resources in the ongoing effort to create and sustain a diverse and inclusive atmosphere second to none here at UAMS.”