Building and supporting a diverse campus community is a cornerstone principle of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. The school has a multi-pronged plan to support that principle — building a pipeline of interested and qualified students, supporting those students when they come to the Keck School, and attracting and retaining an outstanding and diverse faculty.

The school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion promotes inclusion among aspiring medical professionals with programs like Med-COR, Bridging the Gaps, the PA Pipeline Program and many student groups.

The Keck School continues to strive to be the most diverse, most inclusive medical school possible, recently establishing Dean Carmen A. Puliafito’s Diversity Cabinet, which gathers staff and faculty to address the Keck School’s needs and acknowledge its accomplishments in diversity.

Not only is the Office of Diversity and Inclusion one of the medical school’s oldest programs, it began nearly 50 years ago in response to student requests to highlight the issue of diversity on campus.

“In 1968, five white, male medical students went to the dean and said that they were tired of going to school with people who looked like them,” Assistant Dean of Diversity Althea Alexander said. “They said, ‘we are in the heart of the Spanish-speaking community, not far from the black and Asian communities, and we have a small Native American community. We need to be doing more.’”

Because, they concluded, it was the right thing to do.

The Keck School has graduated 756 black and Latino physicians since 1968, with another 31 to be added this year. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion not only is responsible to black and Latino students, but also Asian and Native American aspiring health care professionals and LGBT students.

This is one of many ways the Keck School continues to encourage its very important underrepresented student population.

by Amanda Busick