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Actions & Progress

We are laying the foundation for a stronger, more equitable campus and community.

Diversity, equity and inclusion have long been core values of the School of Medicine. Over time, we have made much progress. But in recent years, several factors — including events within and beyond our campus, as well as findings from the university’s first Diversity Engagement Survey — have demonstrated that we still have work to do.

Senior Leadership Committee on
Diversity and Inclusion

To address improving diversity, equity and inclusion within the school, the School of Medicine’s Executive Faculty held a two-day retreat in June 2015. Howard Ross, a renowned expert on unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, facilitated. After the retreat, the Executive Faculty established the Dean’s Senior Leadership Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. Intended as a catalyst for progress, the committee’s mission is to oversee deliberate, wide-reaching actions that will create a framework for meaningful change.

“With an attitude of honest self reflection, we are taking deliberate action to build an environment that attracts, welcomes and retains people from many backgrounds. Creation of the Dean’s Senior Leadership Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is a major milestone.”

— David H. Perlmutter, MD

Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs
Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor
George and Carol Bauer Endowed Dean

Read the full commitment from the Dean »

The Senior Leadership Committee for Diversity and Inclusion has five areas of focus:

  1. Campus climate
  2. Faculty hiring and employment culture
  3. Staff hiring and employment culture
  4. Students/trainees curriculum design and delivery
  5. Professional training for clinical and research faculty/staff

Work in each area is being completed by a subcommittee charged with developing an action plan to put in place appropriate policies, best practices and resources.

View committee membership and details »

Status reports

To date, the first three subcommittees — Campus Climate, Faculty Hiring and Staff Hiring — have completed action plans that have been approved by the Senior Leadership Committee for Diversity and Inclusion (SLC) and the Executive Faculty.

Many of subcommittees’ recommendations already have been implemented, and others are in the works.


Coordination and leadership

  • Associate vice chancellor and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion: After a national search, the new, senior-level diversity and inclusion position created by the leadership committee has been filled. In July 2018, School of Medicine Dean David H. Perlmutter announced the appointment of Sherree Wilson, PhD, a highly regarded administrator at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Her appointment began Oct. 1, 2018. To elevate and coordinate efforts across departments and missions of the school, Wilson reports directly to the dean.

Awareness and understanding

  • Universal training: More than 9,000 members of the Medical Campus community have participated in the first of four diversity, equity and inclusion training sessions offered by the School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The curriculum is designed to improve awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusion issues.
    • For new employees: Sessions 1.0 and 2.0 of the curriculum are now part of new employee orientation. A goal has been set for new employees to complete all levels of training by their fourth year of employment.
    • For current employees: The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offers open sessions for all levels of diversity and inclusion training. The frequency of these sessions is intended to facilitate all current employees completing all levels of training by 2020.

Faculty hiring

  • Faculty hiring policy: A new schoolwide Faculty Hiring Policy — created by an SLC task force led by Diana Gray, MD, and approved by the Executive Faculty in February 2016 — establishes uniform procedures for the application and hiring process. As a result of the policy:
    • A centralized, online faculty hiring system now provides a single point of entry through which all applicants must apply and from which their demographics and application outcomes are now tracked. The system is available on the Faculty Opportunities website, which launched April 1, 2016.
    • New guidelines outline best practices for advertising open positions.
    • All faculty search committees must now include a designated diversity adviser who will monitor and report on the applicant pool and interviewees. Several specially trained faculty members and Human Resources staffers are available to serve in this capacity.

Staff hiring

  • Recruitment resources: Human Resources is focusing efforts on improving diversity in staff recruitment, particularly for professional and managerial positions. Under a new, proactive recruitment model, four newly hired Human Resources recruitment consultants are available to help hiring managers review job descriptions, develop outreach that will enhance diversity of the applicant pool, and select candidates.
  • Community outreach: Another key goal is to develop ongoing community outreach to position Washington University as an employer of choice in the metro area and beyond. Supporting this effort are two notable additions to the Human Resources staff. Lathon Ferguson, manager of diversity and community outreach, is charged with establishing a network of relationships in the community and nationwide to create a feeder system for diverse talent. Mark Prosperi, executive director of talent management, will apply the proactive recruitment approach to searches for executives.

Employee retention, career development and job fulfillment

Enhancing the work environment for all employees is a critical goal for supporting diversity recruitment and retention. Toward that aim, Human Resources has put in place the following:

  • New sick leave policy: A new sick leave policy for faculty and staff went into effect Oct. 1, 2016, allowing employees to use sick leave for medical appointments and to care for family members with medical needs.
  • Enhanced employee-assistance program: Work-Life Solutions became available Oct. 1, 2016. It provides free, confidential assistance 24/7 for such needs as mental health counseling and legal and financial guidance.
  • Employee career development: New resources for employee career development now support professional and personal growth. Core components are Self Exploration (taking stock of interests and strengths), Career Exploration (exploring opportunities for improvement and growth) and Tools and Resources for creating an individual development plan. Human Resources also has hired two certified career coaches available for employee counseling.


Coordination and leadership

The SLC’s goals for the newly appointed associate vice chancellor for medical campus diversity and inclusion are to focus on prioritizing and implementing many of the remaining actions recommended by the SLC subcommittees.

Among these recommendations are calls to:

  • Establish diversity liaisons for every School of Medicine department.
  • Increase accountability and transparency through a schoolwide feedback mechanism and annual reports on institutional progress and challenges.
  • Develop programs to enable career development and professional advancement of women and underrepresented minorities.
  • Require managers to have a formal career development plan for each employee.
  • Improve communications through shared resources and strategies.

Employee retention, career development and job fulfillment

Enhancing the work environment for all employees is a critical goal for supporting diversity recruitment and retention. Toward that aim, Human Resources is:

  • Reviewing policies related to maternity leave and suspension of the tenure probationary period.
  • Improving annual performance appraisal processes for managers and employees.

Many academic departments are:

  • Developing faculty resources for mentorship training, career development and leadership training.

Staff hiring

Through its diversity and inclusion strategic plan, Human Resources is in the process of:

  • Developing metrics to assess hiring rates, retention and internal promotion and transfers of underrepresented minorities, as well as diversity and inclusion engagement and the effectiveness of search committees.
  • Using start and stop dates on staff job postings.
  • Developing a recruitment and hiring toolkit for hiring managers.
  • Training all hiring managers in unconscious bias.

Awareness and understanding

Regarding awareness and understanding, the Human Resources Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is:

  • Developing diversity and inclusion refresher courses for previously trained employees.


School of Medicine leadership is:

  • Developing a tracking system to assess progress on increasing the diversity of visiting speakers.

About the Senior Leadership Committee

The Joint Office of Strategic Planning has provided staff and project management support to the SLC and each of its subcommittees.

Senior Leadership Committee


Description: Selected members of the Executive Faculty and key administrators
Co-chairs: Diana Gray, MD, Regis O’Keefe, MD
Members: David Perlmutter, MD, Legail Chandler, John Cooper, MD, PhD, Sarah England, PhD, Vicky Fraser, MD, Mary Klingensmith, MD, Ellen Lockhart, MD, Joe Pangelinan, PhD, Linda Reimann, Will Ross, MD, Sobia Shabab, Lila Solnica-Krezel, PhD, Rick Stanton, Richard Wahl, MD, Chuck Zorumski, MD


  • Define and prioritize the goals and strategies that Washington University School of Medicine will implement over the next three years to develop a welcoming, diverse and inclusive culture for students, faculty and staff
  • Develop a structure for implementation and accountability
  • Identify the key metrics we will track to measure progress toward our goals


  • Created: August 2015

SLC subcommittees

Three SLC subcommittees developed the action plans summarized above. Their recommendations outline a path forward; however, implementation is the responsibility of the departments and units of the School of Medicine.

Planning is underway on two additional subcommittees.

Campus Climate Subcommittee


Description: Faculty from clinical and preclinical departments, MD and PhD students and exempt and nonexempt staff
Chair: Regis O’Keefe, MD
Members: Miriam Ben Abdallah, Damon Braggs, Juli Leistner, Tessa Madden, MD, Jessica Miller, Will Ross, MD, James Skeath, PhD, Rachelle Smith, PhD, Melissa Torres


Create an environment where the ideals of diversity, inclusion and equitable treatment of all individuals are woven into every aspect Washington University School of Medicine’s culture


  • Work began: December 2015
  • Action plan approved by the Executive Faculty: March 1, 2017

Faculty Hiring and Employment Culture Subcommittee


Description: Faculty from clinical and preclinical departments
Co-chairs: Diana Gray, MD, Richard Wahl, MD
Members: Maria Baggstrom, MD, Jeffrey Crippin, MD, Lisa de las Fuentes, MD, Geetika Khanna, MD, Allison King, MD, PhD, Robyn Klein, MD, PhD, Sandra Klein, MD, Mauricio Lisker-Melman, MD, Katherine Rivera-Spoljaric, MD, Lila Solnica-Krezel, PhD, Yumirle Turmelle, MD


To develop strategies and recommendations for improving recruitment and retention, career development and promotion of faculty members within Washington University School of Medicine, including a specific focus on under-represented minority and women faculty


  • Work began: Fall 2015
  • Faculty hiring policy approved by the Executive Faculty: April 2017
  • Additional recommendations approved by the Executive Faculty: June 2017

Staff Hiring and Employment Culture Subcommittee


Description: Employees representing general staff, human resources, business managers and diversity and inclusion
Co-chairs: Legail Chandler, Chuck Zorumski, MD
Members: Jennifer Albertina, Lathon Ferguson, Joy Haven, Cherie Moore, Joseph Pangelinan, Steve Reynolds, Jamie Sauerburger


  • Increase diversity of Washington University School of Medicine staff in managerial and professional positions to better reflect the community in which we live
  • Improve retention, career development and job fulfillment for all staff


  • Work began: July 2016
  • Plan approved by Executive Faculty: March 1, 2017