Diversity isn't part of Dr. Juanyce Taylor's title as assistant dean for research and innovation and chair of the Department of Health Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center's School of Health Related Professions.
“It's part of my fabric,” she said. “It's who I am.”
Taylor's work in incorporating diversity in courses she teaches and promoting diversity through programs such as the Mississippi Rural Allied Health Professionals Scholarship Program and the Health Equity Leadership Initiative led to her nomination for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning 2016 Diversity Award for Excellence.
She and 10 other nominees, one from each of the state's IHL campuses and one each from Mississippi State University's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine and UMMC, were honored Feb. 18 by the state College Board.
The annual award is based on positive contributions to the campus and state, including advancing campus diversity, community outreach and demonstrating achievements that have benefitted all Mississippians, said Clotee Lewis, IHL coordinator of public affairs. Coinciding with Black History Month in February, the honor's presentation “recognizes accomplishments in diversity among our faculty members,” she said. Among the nominees, Dr. Shirley Hanshaw, an associate professor of English at Mississippi State University, was chosen for the Diversity Educator Award this year.
“It's a prestigious award,” Lewis said, “and one we look forward to each year.”
The Mississippi Rural Allied Health Professionals Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to students who come to SHRP from rural communities, and the Health Equity Leadership Initiative, which encourages men of color ages 17-25 to become leaders in health-related professions and boosts access to education and training opportunities, “symbolize what we say we stand for at UMMC,” Taylor said.
Taylor secured a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to fund the Health Equity Leadership Initiative, now in its third year at UMMC. She was also instrumental in securing grant funding from the Hearin Foundation for the Mississippi Rural Allied Health Professionals Scholarship Program.
Like the Rural Scholars Program for UMMC medical and dental students, the SHRP program results in health professionals returning to rural areas to improve the quality of health care in the state, said Dr. Jessica Bailey, dean of the School of Health Related Professions.
Inclusion provides an edge in education and research, Taylor said. “Diversity is about bringing together different attitudes, perspectives and skills and fresh ideas. It's what makes us unique. When we pursue diversity, we are … expanding opportunities, inspiring minds and empowering communities.”
Outreach programs to rural students and students of color are key in UMMC fulfilling its role of serving the state as its only academic medical center, she said.
Bailey said Taylor's outreach efforts are a credit to the state and the institution.
“Dr. Taylor is committed to providing opportunities for students who might otherwise not imagine themselves in a health care profession or attending an academic health sciences center,” Bailey said. “She has the vision to recognize opportunities to make our health care work force be more representative of our Mississippi population.”