Inclusive Excellence Plan


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing (SON) is a community that values and promotes diversity among students, staff and faculty. Discrimination and inequities are complex societal realities that must be addressed as we work to fulfill our education, research, service and practice missions. The school strives to create and maintain a culture characterized by equity, inclusion, and mutual respect in an evolving system that reflects the contributions of all.  We encourage active listening, critical thinking, respectful discourse, and constructive engagement around diversity and inclusion. Through the creation of an environment that values and promotes diversity, the School contributes to the University’s mission to serve society’s needs, which includes preparing nurses who value diversity and who are culturally responsive. The School of Nursing will serve as a model for other schools of nursing and society at large through fostering a community in which everyone has value.


The School of Nursing has established itself as a leader in the work of diversity and inclusion. By maintaining a plan for achieving inclusion and diversity goals the SON demonstrates its commitment to inclusive excellence, diversity, and equity. The culture, climate and environment of the School of Nursing is one where diverse voices and perspectives may operate in harmony and/or respectful discourse. As part of a larger system-UNC Campus, the greater Chapel Hill community, the state, nation and world-the SON is in a unique position to influence culture and climate of a broad array of environments. The perspective of inclusion is not only focused on the diverse populations as defined by race and ethnicity but must consider any perspective that is unique and different than our own, be it age, physical capabilities, socioeconomic background, political backgrounds, sexual orientation or identification, identity expression, religious backgrounds etc.

The internal stakeholders in the school of nursing regardless of role or position are key to the creation of an inclusive learning environment in which to work and learn.  Critical self-awareness is part of who we are and an important factor in the development of a culture of inclusiveness.  Every member of the SON is called upon to contribute to a culture and environment that respects the integrity and individuality of all regardless of what constitutes that individuality. Examination of our own values, motivations, beliefs, experiences, and expectations are to be undertaken with reflection on how these impact others both internally and externally.  This examination will lead individuals to interact with others with a mindset that understands and appreciates cultural humility and sensitivity, respect, trust, and inclusiveness. The development of effective strategies for creating an environment and culture that are reflective of diversity and inclusion will enhance the ability to attain the goal of being a welcoming environment for all. As the SON continues its journey towards and maintenance of a strong culture of diversity, inclusiveness, and equity, it will be important that all reflect and honor it, at all times giving prominence to its significance in our public face and communications including but not limited to websites, social media and policies.  The assumptions that lay the foundation for inclusive environments and cultures must be broad and specific to address the many facets of diversity and inclusion. While the below list is not exhaustive it is wide sweeping enough to encompass the work of the school-teaching, research, practice, and service.


The Inclusive Excellence Plan is designed around the following underlying assumptions:

  1. Implicit bias is ever present
  2. Inclusiveness is essential in order to have a healthy environment
  3. Cultural competence is an ideal: cultural sensitivity, awareness and humility are realistic attainable goals
  4. Diversity across populations in the school is a desirable outcome
  5. Recognition of the value of each person (student, staff, faculty) within the school is critical to achievement of inclusiveness
  6. Creation of an inclusive environment is everyone’s responsibility
  7. Personal commitment and resources are necessary to create and sustain an environment that fosters a culture of inclusiveness
  8. Academic achievement is influenced by access to resources and opportunities and disparities are related to race, ethnicity and class.


The Inclusive Excellence Plan focuses on four key priorities. These priorities are meant to address issues relevant to diversity and inclusion across the wide array of functions within the school of nursing.  Recognizing that there are a variety of dimensions and factors that could be addressed in the plan the following areas are most encompassing of the work of the School and of all its missions.

Culture, Climate, and Environment +

Creating an exemplary multicultural and inclusive environment is an achievable goal. The SON’s commitment to this is supported in the strategic plan which states as a priority “foster an inclusive environment of respect and civility and embrace decisions with a strategic mindset”.  This priority in the inclusive excellence plan parallels that goal. During courageous dialogues and interviews, stakeholders in the school have noted a need for creating an environment in which all can experience a sense of belonging and value. Creation of and sustaining an inclusive community requires more than diversity. It is the aim of this plan to implement activities that enhance the sense of team, improve diversity, create feelings of warmth and belonging while at the same time allow space for difficult conversations.


To foster a warm, welcoming environment in which all can study, learn, and work.

Action Items

  • Establish a resource room with educational literature relevant to inclusive excellence to include an electronic resource list. Include a list of resources available on the main university campus
    • Establish and publish set hours for the resource room
    • Include orientation to the resource room during orientations
    • The resource room is an evolving, living space for everyone and open for contributions to the room from anyone
  • Implement meet and greet events throughout the year
  • Establish a Comment/Suggestion box for the Office of Inclusive Excellence
  • Courageous dialogues will be placed on the university and SON calendar
  • Seek input from stakeholders to identify topics for courageous dialogues
  • Collaborate with the office of advancement to obtain funding for an annual lecture relevant to inclusive excellence
  • Continue the Mobile Diversity Moment
  • Work with IIT to create a video relevant to inclusive excellence
  • Create an advisory group that assists with programming and evaluation of the plan
  • Continue to build an inclusive community (examples of activities):
    • SON-wide listserv
    • Monthly school-wide social gatherings
    • Group activities, campus wide diversity activities
    • Friday afternoon motivational email
    • Spontaneous pop-ups
    • Lunch and learn
    • Good News Monthly
    • Providing a safe space for difficult conversations


The responsibility for evaluation of this priority will be done by the Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence with the assistance of an advisory committee for that office.  This group will also utilize the input of the strategic plan implementation task force for the culture and climate initiative. An annual review of this initiative will document the number, type and attendance for each activity as well as feedback from stakeholders.

Curriculum +

The curriculum across all programs is a key priority of the plan as educating students to serve diverse populations is critical to the school’s mission. Through course development, evaluation and revision, content relevant to culture, diversity, inclusiveness, and health disparities are incorporated into course content and assignments (Didactic and Clinical). The School of Nursing Carolina Core Tenet # 1 will serve as the organizing framework for inclusive excellence and diversity in the curriculum. The narrative states “Carolina Nurses affirm the uniqueness among persons, ideas, and values. We commit to inclusion of all forms of diversity, demonstrating culturally responsive approaches in our practice.”


To develop and implement curricula across all programs that provides the requisite knowledge to foster cultural awareness and sensitivity in clinical practice, research, and service.

Action Items

  • Syllabi across all programs are reviewed for inclusion of content relevant to inclusive excellence during regularly scheduled course reviews in the applicable executive committees or curriculum evaluation committee
  • Approval of courses is dependent upon adequate inclusion of relevant content as appropriate
  • Written documentation (Committee Minutes at minimum) specific to the review of courses should be filed with the Office of Inclusive Excellence upon completion of the course review.
  • In instances in which inclusive content is lacking all efforts will be made to collaborate with ECs to address concerns prior to next offering of the course
  • Clinical placements across programs afford students the opportunity to care for patients and populations from diverse backgrounds that are not limited to ethnic/racial, cultural, socioeconomic, religious, sexual orientation, and gender identity, etc.
  • Clinical evaluations using the SON Clinical Evaluation Tool addresses the specific competencies related to inclusive excellence
  • Faculty serving as course coordinators receive faculty development in the area of test construction bias and avoidance of stereotypical portrayal of diverse groups in test items, case studies and simulations


The curriculum evaluation committee and executive committees will serve as the responsible entity for evaluating achievement of the curriculum goals in the plan. Collaboration or consultation with the Assistant Dean of the Office of Inclusive Excellence will occur as needed. The Assistant Dean will review the referenced evaluative reports and documents on an annual basis.

Student Admissions, Recruitment, & Retention +

Inclusiveness is a driver of excellence in recruitment, admissions, and retention efforts. The School commits to a holistic admissions process that assesses an applicant’s unique attributes, experiences, and perspectives along with more traditional metrics such as academic achievements and writing ability. Intentional strategies for recruitment to attract students from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds are needed. Connections with pre-college and community college students and advisors are established through efforts with Project Uplift, Summer Bridge, Tar Heel Preview Day, C-STEP, and the Carolina College Advising Corps. The Offices of Inclusive Excellence (OIE) and Office of Student Affairs (OSA) train all admission committees on the tenets of holistic admissions. Additionally, committee members are asked to acknowledge and address their implicit biases and work to overcome them. It is recognized that it is not enough to admit and enroll students but once here retention becomes the focus. The OSA has assumed the role of helping students to succeed by identifying sources of support including social and financial.


To recruit, admit, enroll, and retain a highly qualified and diverse student body that more closely mirrors the patient population of North Carolina.

Action Items

  • Continue Holistic admissions
    • Continue to evolve and improve process
    • Explore barriers to applications/admissions
    • Require training for any new admissions committee members
    • Require annual refresher training for any continuing admissions committee members
    • Education on bias for doctoral interviews
  • Targeted recruitment
    • Maintain existing community college partners
    • Seek to expand partnerships with at least two new community colleges annually.
    • Regularly attend Middle/High School College fairs
    • Participate in Project Uplift and summer bridge activities
    • Create a pipeline for all programs: Investigate methods to strengthen our recruitment efforts across programs by creation of a pipeline program, whether formal or informal
    • OSA will host at least seven in-house pre-college events each year.
    • Better collaborate with HBCUs in the area. Graduate programs: All HBCUs; Undergraduate programs: HBCUs without nursing programs
    • Targeted retention
  • Continue OSA efforts to promote student persistence and resiliency across all programs (recognize that certain groups face unique barriers to achieving their academic goals)
  • Utilize OSA retention specialist for monitoring of academic and other progression issues
  • Continue regular “How’s It Going Sessions”
  • Make students aware of resources available in the SON and the broader campus to enhance retention
  • Track demographics of students who are unsuccessful academically
  • Admissions Process
    • Admissions committee members and the office of OSA will seek to examine potential barriers to application, including admission criteria, application process, associated fees, essay prompts, and timing of application cycles


The OSA collaborates with the OIE to track the number of holistic admissions trainings held to ensure full participation of all members of each committee. Each admissions committee will conduct an end-of-cycle meeting to reflect on lessons learned during the year, areas for improvement, and ways to remove barriers to application in the next cycle.  At least annually statistics relevant to the demographic make-up of the class will be compiled and reviewed. An annual report relevant to admissions will be presented at executive meetings. In addition, the progression review committees will provide data on student retention.

Faculty and Staff Recruitment & Retention +

In keeping with the mission and values of the university and the SON it is imperative that the faculty and staff represent a wide array of individuals. The SON’s efforts at creating and maintaining a diverse population of workers is key to the ability to create an environment that is inclusive and allows all to have a sense of belonging. Retention strategies are proposed that will address some of the issues that have been shared as reasons for departure. Recruitment efforts are needed that have a broad reach to specific targeted groups.


To achieve a diverse faculty and staff that resembles/mimics the demographic makeup of the state of North Carolina

Action Items

  • Retention
    • Acknowledge and celebrate success and achievements
    • Collaborate with Office of Administrative Services and appropriate supervisors to explore opportunities for staff development and upward mobility
    • Confidentially interview departing faculty and staff to gather data on their perceptions regarding climate and culture and reasons for departure
    • Anonymous submission of concerns/information from faculty and staff
    • Interview departing staff to gather data to guide future work relevant to enhancing the culture and climate of the school
    • Discuss with administrators the possibility of dissemination of opportunities that assist in career development
    • Incorporate wellness activities in the workplace
    • Implement strategies to create an inclusive environment (Refer to climate and environment priority)
  • Recruitment
    • Collaborate with all search committees to clarify/explain the need for minority faculty to include males
    • Collaborate with staff supervisors to discuss hiring processes for staff positions
    • Request report from search committees on methods and processes utilized for advertisement of positions to minority populations/communities
    • Implement Implicit Bias training for all search committees
    • Keep website updated as a showcase for the SON


Review and evaluation of this component of the plan (faculty and staff) will be done by the executive leadership team in collaboration with the Office of Inclusive Excellence. Quantitative and qualitative data will be compiled to determine if progress is being made towards recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty and staff.

The plan is fluid and amenable to change at any time deemed necessary. However, progress towards goals/outcomes in the four identified priority areas will be reviewed annually and evaluated every 3 years with input from an advisory committee/task force. The goals, strategies for achievement, and evaluation criteria are presented in the following pages. The articulated strategies are non-exhaustive but rather starting points for initial implementation of the Inclusive Excellence Plan.

Updated June 15, 2020.