College of Medicine – Phoenix Receives Diversity Award

Feb. 20, 2023

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix received the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award by INSIGHT into Diversity magazine for the third time. The HEED Award is a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Sonji Muhammad Perry, director of College of Medicine – Phoenix’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OEDI), said she is proud to be part of a team that leads the effort for the college and includes leadership and staff who are passionate about ensuring medical education reflects a diverse world.

Black woman standing on rooftop on College of Medicine - Phoenix campus.

Sonji Muhammad Perry

“As a college, we want to reflect our community and the patients we serve, and we strive to make our campus and workforce reflect our community,” she said. “The OEDI team works tirelessly with all departments, and the HEED Award is one product of that hard work.”

Perry said the college has made an intentional effort to embed diversity into all aspects of its educational endeavors.

“We have met significant equity, diversity and inclusion milestones at our college in the past year, especially in supporting underrepresented in medicine students,” Perry said. 

“We matriculated the most diverse medical school class for the academic year 2021-22 with 22% of the students from underrepresented backgrounds; we successfully raised more than $400,000 in scholarship funds; and we are expanding our mentoring efforts for students underrepresented in medicine with the addition of a director of underrepresented in medicine mentoring position,” she added.

The significance of receiving the HEED recognition for a third time was not lost on Francisco Lucio, JD, associate dean of the College of Medicine – Phoenix OEDI.

Man standing in front of a fire truck. He is wearing a grey suit and white dress shirt.

Francisco Lucio, JD

“Receiving the HEED Award for the third time is emblematic of the hard work and consistency from many at the college toward a more equitable, diverse and inclusive campus that is nationally recognized,” Lucio said. “These changes can be seen in the diversity of our student body, the elevated inclusion and support of our faculty through groups like Women in Medicine and Science, and the transformation within our medical school curriculum, to name a few.”

Perry noted that in 2021, the College of Medicine – Phoenix was selected as one of 11 schools to participate in the Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education (ART in MED Ed) initiative. The three-year program funded by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation is designed to dismantle institutional racism, establish and maintain capacity for transformational change, and build a community of practice within and across schools. ART in MED Ed is now in Phase 3, where Perry said they are “building change leaders, infrastructure and conditions to support change and working with individuals who are deeply committed to the change process.”

One project for the 2023-24 academic year, Perry said, is to host a Black Men In White Coats Summit, which will provide underrepresented in medicine students from elementary school through college undergraduate levels with opportunities to meet and engage with health care professionals.

“As we look to the future, it is ever-important that we strengthen pathway programs for the next generation of medical students,” Lucio added. “We continue to do this through programs such as our Mobile Medical School Program, which provides medical school and health career exposure opportunities for elementary to middle school students.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The college is one of 64 award recipients for 2022.