The campus climate at veterinary schools and colleges has been identified as a major barrier to recruitment and retention of individuals from various underrepresented ethnic and racial backgrounds.
This topic was analyzed at length during the second Southeastern Veterinary Student Diversity Matters Symposium in February at the University of Georgia. The symposium focused on inclusiveness as part of the campus climate and how it relates to student, faculty, and staff success (see JAVMA, July 15, 2010, page 140).
The primary outcome of the meeting was a decision to develop a core cultural climate survey that can be distributed to domestic and international schools and colleges of veterinary medicine.
Enter the AVMA-Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Joint Committee, which agreed to take action on the matter at its spring meeting.
The committee recommended to the AVMA Executive Board that the two associations develop, distribute, and analyze such a survey for distribution to all AAVMC member and affiliate member schools. The survey would act as a benchmarking tool to assess inclusiveness at the colleges and provide critically needed information for the development of interventions that would enhance and improve the cultural climate at participating institutions.
The AVMA board approved the recommendation at its June meeting at Association headquarters.
For its part, the AVMA will provide in-kind support through assistance in developing the climate survey instrument, promoting survey participation, and the like, according to the background to the recommendation.
The AAVMC expects to administer the survey this fall semester with the hopes of providing preliminary results at the 18th Iverson Bell Symposium in March 2011. Eventually, the committee plans to develop a peer-reviewed manuscript for publication in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education.
The AVMA and AAVMC each have strategic goals that seek to enhance and increase diversity in the veterinary colleges and the profession.