Finding Strength in Our Diversity
Diversity has come to mean many things in today’s slogan-laden world. For all of us, our backgrounds and resultant attitudes greatly influence our viewpoints and often-subtle behavior toward different groups of people. These beliefs impact our interactions with others, including the student-teacher relationship and patient care.
We talk regularly about such things at Loma Linda University Health. It is important for us to reach a consensus as across this country such issues routinely boil over.
Loma Linda University Health has a long-established commitment to accepting all people as children of God. We define inclusiveness to cover the many variations of the human experience, whether ethnic, cultural, physical, faith-based or other. Our challenge is to maintain our uniqueness as a Christian community while also understanding the differences that our students, faculty, staff and patients represent.
In our commitment to address these challenges, we have established a Diversity Council at Loma Linda University Health. Our goal is to understand our differences as best we can, encourage an honest dialogue about those differences, respect each other in all circumstances, and build on the strength that comes from our diversity.
A broad group of representatives from across campus are on the Diversity Council, with the mandate to listen, understand, accept and educate. While we recognize that there are some scars we can never completely erase, we also believe that listening and starting on the road to understanding are essential steps in healing.
The councilmembers come together regularly and are brave enough to be honest with each other. They have vowed to turn their struggles into understanding and compassion, their pain into promise for others. This promise is real and the commitment to building bridges is palpable.
This effort will span our health care and educational enterprise, including our faculty, staff and students. It will instruct and learn from our many service-learning opportunities, both in this community and internationally.
This is neither lip service nor a popularity contest. My personal intent is to be persistent and proactive as we continue to grow our culture into one of acceptance and inclusion. Students, faculty, employees, alumni and community members are urged to share their concerns with any councilmember so she or he can bring them to the attention of the entire council.
Thank you for joining us in this critical journey. This country, this world, needs our brand of acceptance for all, and I trust this campus can truly become a haven for those who may feel marginalized, or even wounded, in this place dedicated to healing.
To reach the right balance, we need everyone’s input. Please join us in this journey.
Richard H. Hart, MD, DrPH
President, Loma Linda University Health