Campus Strategic Diversity Plan


Downstate's mission is to recruit and maintain a staff and student body that is representative of the diverse ethnic patient populations we serve and to become more efficient and cost effective in achieving our mission. Through our hospital and our educational affiliates, our mission includes but is not limited to providing education, job opportunities, economic opportunity, and healthcare to the 2.6 million residents of Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Downstate serves a distinct and diverse population of students. Many students are from Brooklyn or the Greater New York City area, and are first generation college students. Many are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and are immigrants or children of immigrants, new to America. Over a third of Downstate's students are underrepresented populations in the health sciences.

As one of the nation's leading urban academic health centers, the campus is a vital part of the Brooklyn community; one of its largest employers; and a critical source for education, research, and health care. Downstate's College of Medicine (the 15th oldest in the country), School of Health Professions, College of Nursing, School of Graduate Studies, and School of Public Health enroll over 1800 annually students and offer a broad professional education that prepares our diverse student body for practice of medicine or health related careers.

Diversity Mission/Vision Statement

Downstate Medical Center is one of the premier urban hospital and health systems in the nation. Diversity and inclusion are integral components of the highest quality academic programs and one of the highest priorities on campus. Downstate Medical Center (DMC) remains committed to diversity and inclusion while maintaining excellence in faculty, staff, and student recruitment, development, promotion and retention. Our dedication to diversity and inclusion is demonstrated by receiving recent national diversity and inclusion awards, that include Insight Into Diversity Magazine's 2014 Higher Education Excellent in Diversity (HEED) award, Insight Into Diversity Magazine's 2016 Health Professions (HEED) Award, and a 2016 Best of New York Award for our collaboration with SUNY Albany to share health disparities research and scholarship between the two institutions.

Diversity Council

The Downstate Diversity Council was created in anticipation of a campus wide strategic effort to increase opportunities and inclusiveness for all students, staff and faculty. The Council members represent all areas of the campus including student, staff, faculty, administration and senior leadership. The Council members made a commitment to meet weekly for a number of months. The Diversity Council's first goal was to critically assess campus diversity and inclusion efforts both within our schools and the University Hospital. This ongoing assessment includes a review of related campus policies, procedures, current pipeline programs, and student and workforce demographics. The Diversity Council continues to meet weekly to continue its assessment of current programs and activities as well as exploring ways to expand Downstate's efforts.

Current Assessment of Campus Diversity

Borough of Brooklyn 2010 Census

  • Female 53%
  • Male 47%
  • White 36%
  • African American 30%
  • Hispanic/Latino 20%
  • Asian American 12%
  • Two or more races 2%


  • Over 4,600 full-time employees
  • 73.85% identify according to federal census categories as African-American, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian-Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and Hawaiian Natives and Pacific Islander
  • Female 60%
  • Male 40%


  • Male 60%
  • Female 40%
  • White 60%
  • Asian American 22%
  • African American 13%
  • Hispanic/Latino 4%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native 0.05%
  • Hawaiian Natives and Pacific Islanders 0.055%

Student Body

  • Female 64%
  • Male 36%
  • White 42%
  • Asian American 28.6%
  • African American 23%
  • Hispanic/Latino 6%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native 0.02%
  • Hawaiian Natives and Pacific Islanders 0.02%

Patient Population by Federal Census Categories*

  • African American/African Caribbean 75%
  • Hispanic/Latino 12%
  • White 7%
  • Asian American 2%

Pathway Programs and Community Engagement

SUNY Downstate has many programs and strategic partnerships to strengthen its impact on medically underserved communities as well as increase diversity among doctors and other allied health professionals. Downstate's pathway and community programs aim to increase health literacy, decrease health disparities and increase underrepresented groups exposure to health care professions. Some of the initiatives include:

  • The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, a partnership between SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President.
  • Urban Universities for HEALTH is a four-year grant funded by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the NIH's National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). The project engages five academic institutions leading innovative workforce efforts that address health disparities.
  • Downstate's Science and Technology Entry Program works with local high schools to bridge the gap for students from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged communities, in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM) fields.
  • The STEM program in Downstate's School of Graduate Studies brings volunteer graduate students to five local Brooklyn high schools, where they teach unique science and math curriculums. A joint program of the State University of New York, Downstate, and the New York Academy of Sciences, it is funded by the National Science Foundation.
  • The Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) seeks to increase the number of individuals from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds who enter the health and allied health professions. Through an educational pipeline program, HCOP provides support necessary to compete for, enter, and graduate from health or allied health professions schools.
  • Health and Education Alternatives for Teens program (HEAT), a first of its kind in Brooklyn, provides age and developmentally appropriate, culturally competent care for heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who are living with or at very high risk for HIV/AIDS.
  • Early Medical Education Program. An initiative to increase the competitiveness of undergraduate pre-medical students, early in their college career.
  • The Undergraduate Summer Research Program is designed for undergraduate students who have historically been underrepresented in biomedical and health profession

Portfolio and Responsibilities of the Chief Diversity Officer

In alignment with the SUNY Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy, the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) and the Office for Institutional Equity is charged with overseeing efforts to increase diversity and inclusion on each SUNY Campus. Downstate was one of a small number of SUNY campuses with a CDO already in place. The CDO will work with all campus constituencies to implement best practices for the recruitment, retention and promotion of professional and educational advancement opportunities for all students, faculty and staff. The CDO's charge, as recommended in the SUNY Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy, includes:

  • Reporting directly to the president.
  • Being a member of the senior administration with parity with other senior administrators.
  • Working collaboratively with all offices across campus including but not limited to the offices of academic affairs, enrollment management, human resources, and admissions, to promote inclusiveness.
  • Implement best practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion in such areas as recruitment and retention of students, senior administrators, faculty and staff.
  • Inquire about a search firm's success in assuring a diverse pool of candidates. In those instances where the campus is considered a Federal Contractor, the campus will require that the search firm provide it with information about the diversity of the search firm's staff and its success rate in placing diverse candidates prior to entering into a contract with such firm.
  • Developing and implementing strategic diversity and inclusion plans to achieve SUNY's inclusion goal.
  • A Developing a student recruitment strategy that includes programs and activities that will enable the campus to enroll a student population that is increasingly representative of the diversity of its primary immediate community and the State as a whole.
  • Implementing a student retention and completion strategy wherein the campus strives to increase the rate of completion for all students and close any gaps in the completion rates of students from any group when compared to the average campus completion rate.
  • Implementing strategies to address the challenges of students in transition.
  • Develop administrative, faculty and staff recruitment and retention strategies that continuously improves campus efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the following areas: recruitment, selection of the prospect pool, and decision-making and hiring for campus Leadership, faculty and staff. Plans should address the unique challenges of dual career relocation and ensure that selected candidates can articulate a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Implementation of best practice mentoring plans and strategies tailored to the needs of diverse campus groups of faculty and staff.

Diversity and Inclusion Goals

Students Goals

  1. To maintain or increase the percentage of under-represented populations present in the student body.
  2. To maintain or increase the number of women present in the student body.
  3. To promote a welcoming climate of diversity and inclusion for all populations (including race, ethnicity, immigrant status, age, religious, non-religious affiliation, language, disability, geographic location, social economic status) represented in the student body.
  4. Create a safe space where students, trainees, and faculty can network, discuss public health or current events that directly impact the LGBTQ community.
  5. Implement educational programs that will provide all students with skills in crosscultural communication and cultural sensitivity skills that will enable them to effectively communicate and interact with an increasingly global and multiethnic patient population.
  6. Identify opportunities to integrate key concepts on cultural and health equity into the six domains of competence (systems-based practice, professionalism, interpersonal and communication skills, practice-based learning, patient care, and medical knowledge.

Faculty Goals

  1. To maintain or increase the percentage of under-represented populations present in the faculty.
  2. To maintain or increase the number of women present in the faculty.
  3. Create a list of HBCUs and institutions designated as minority serving and send new positions and postings to appropriate departments at those institutions.
  4. Create an ongoing list of professional organizations for URM, such as the Group on Diversity and Inclusion of the AAMC, National Medical Association, National Association of Medical Minority Educators (NAMME), National Hispanic Medical Association and Network of Minority Research Investigators, and Harold Amos and Minority Faculty Development Fellowship/RWJ for identifying potential recruits.
  5. Develop collaborations with SUNY programs that support faculty with disabilities.
  6. Create opportunities for academic leadership for women and underrepresented populations by developing initiatives with the Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development on work-life balance, negotiation, responding to implicit bias in the workplace, scientific writing, grant writing, and academic promotion.
  7. Establish an annual underrepresented faculty development seminar whereby underrepresented faculty can network and share their scholarly work.
  8. Facilitate and identify senior faculty who are able to mentor diverse junior faculty so that they can successfully compete and apply for career training awards and independent funding.
  9. Link women and underrepresented faculty with basic and clinical scientists who have ongoing research support and assist them in applying for NIH Diversity Supplements.
  10. Establish a center-wide recognition award for diversity. Awardees would be students, trainees, or faculty who through their work:
    • Demonstrate leadership in promoting diversity
    • Develop innovative curriculum that promotes diversity or cultural competency
    • Develop institutional or community programs for diversity
    • Lead administrative or policy changes to promote diversity throughout DMC
    • Provide substantial support or mentorship to students in pipeline programs, women, URMs, and our LGBTQ community

Administrative Staff Goals

  1. To maintain or increase the percentage of under-represented populations present in the staff.
  2. To maintain or increase the number of women present in the staff.
  3. Establish a center-wide recognition award for managers and supervisor for demonstrating leadership in promoting diversity in promotions, staff development, and merit increases.

Curriculum Goals

  1. Infuse content on evidence-based care for culturally diverse populations in all program curricula.
  2. Collaborate with Provost and academic deans to develop integrated evidence-based care for culturally diverse populations into each school's curriculum.

Community Engagement

  • Advance the health of underserved communities, both locally and globally, through collaborative public health approaches to health promotion, disease prevention and intervention.
  • Identify all Downstate's campus and external pipeline programs in the community and develop collaborative strategies to record and retain collective data and outcomes.
  • Increase our supplier diversity efforts in Brooklyn.

Strategies and Implementation

The Diversity Council's overarching focus was to make sure that diversity and inclusion efforts are woven into the fabric of Downstate. With this in mind, Downstate's diversity and inclusion goals and efforts should not be stand-alone items. The key to increasing diversity and inclusion within our schools and hospital is to have diversity best practices included in all strategic decisions.


SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is a unique educational teaching environment that includes the School of Health Professions, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Graduate Studies and School of Public Health. Each individual school has detailed goals and strategies to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in the student body and within the staff and faculty ranks. While each school has goals and strategies specific to the demographics of their student body and staff, some goals remain consistent across the schools and colleges, including:


  • Improving diversity of the student body through ongoing recruitment efforts
  • Office for Institutional Equity will have a representative on all schools admission committees actively engaged in the recruitment, interview, and admission process
  • Evaluating current pipeline programs and expanding the efforts where necessary
  • Evaluating strategic partnerships with regional undergraduate schools
  • Improving marketing efforts for SUNY Downstate and each individual school
  • Utilizing student ambassadors in recruiting efforts (including recruitment fairs)
  • Survey reasons for rejection of admission offers


  • Incorporate diversity and inclusion goals in faculty evaluations
  • Increase mentoring and sponsorship activities between senior and junior faculty members
  • Direct outreach to candidates from underrepresented groups
  • Advertise faculty vacancies more broadly
  • Create retention programs to increase number of tenured faculty from underrepresented groups
  • Provide funding to support faculty attendance at professional conferences and events targeted toward clinicians from underrepresented groups

Assessment and Evaluation

The Diversity Council will continue to meet and assess campus progress towards implementation of the Council's recommendation. Progress will be regularly reported through the President's Executive Cabinet meetings and through meetings of the center-wide Outcomes Assessment Coordinating Council. Diversity Council members will be ambassadors for implementation of the diversity and inclusion policy within their respective departments.

Diversity Council work groups were created to address issues specific to students, faculty, staff, patients and the community. Work groups members will continue meeting to assess the needs of their particular area and will update the Council on progress of short and long-term goals. The working groups are as follows:

  • Student Engagement (enrollment, mentoring & pipeline, cultural competency infused in curriculum)
  • Faculty Engagement (recruitment, development, mentoring, promotion, tenure)
  • Employee/Staff Engagement (recruitment, development)
  • Disability (Facility, accommodation, accessibility)
  • LGBTQ Engagement (patients on site, off site clinics)
  • Hospital engagement (health disparities, patient satisfaction, cultural competency)
  • Civic Engagement (supplier diversity, off site clinics, healthcare partners)


Downstate Medical Center's initial campus strategic diversity plan is a campus wide effort to improve our faculty, staff and student body diversity footprint in the borough of Brooklyn. The identified goals and strategies in our campus diversity plan calls for active engagement both internally with our workforce and student body and externally with our community partners.