Across the nation, institutions of higher education are struggling to build meaningful community from an increasingly diverse student body. With programs like Unconquered Scholars, FSU is redefining what inclusion can mean on college campuses—which has led to our being named one of only 10 "Diversity Champion" universities nationally by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Our approach starts with a belief that diversity is about more than a particular head count: it must reflect the quality and depth of interactions. By valuing, celebrating, and leveraging the differences and similarities within our community, we create a fertile environment for problem-solving—one that is more inventive and compassionate. We're proud that our cohesive community has become a signature of the FSU experience. But we can, and we will, do more. (FSU Strategic Plan, Goal III: Diversity and Inclusion).
Several factors contribute to FSU's ability to create cultural transformation through an innovative approach to hiring, supporting, and retaining underrepresented minority (URM) faculty. First, our College of Medicine was founded in 2000 to train physicians to serve rural communities throughout the panhandle region and the State of Florida. Given the racial and ethnic diversity of these areas, we have created a rich community-based network upon which to integrate academic health-science efforts across our Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Arts and Sciences. Second, in 2013, the Florida Board of Governors designated FSU as one of two "preeminent universities" providing an increased state commitment of $75 million from 2013 to 2018. FSU leadership strategically invested these funds to advance health-science research, including the creation of the Equity Research Corner (a consortium of eight centers and institutes) with the mission to address equity issues related to health, social, and educational barriers at the levels of individuals, families, and communities. Third, FSU has created resources to support faculty conducting clinical translational research through our NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) subaward. Fourth, FSU has committed to institutional change to foster diversity, inclusion, and equity at all levels in its Strategic Plan (Goal III) and through the President's Task Force of Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion. The NIH-funded U54 program leverages these resources to test the robustness of the FLORIDA-FIRST BRIGADE for promoting a self-reinforcing community of scientists committed to inclusive excellence.