University of Arizona College of Nursing Senior Program Coordinator José Muñoz has been awarded a spot in the esteemed American Association of Colleges of Nursing Diversity Leadership Institute.
The central focus of the Diversity Leadership Institute is to provide an overview of the evolution of diversity and inclusion and the role of Diversity Officers in academic nursing and nursing practice. It frames diversity within the context of higher education and academic nursing while presenting high-involvement diversity practices in teams and leaders.
“It is an honor to be participating in the AACN Diversity Leadership Institute and representing UArizona Nursing,” Muñoz said. “I am excited to learn and engage with nursing faculty and staff from across the country.”
“I will continue to engage in efforts that create a sense of belonging for all students, staff and faculty that ensures everyone feels included and valued. I will strive to build and nurture a culture where inclusiveness is a reflex, not an initiative," ~ José Muñoz, Senior Program Coordinator
The goal of the program is to enhance professional knowledge and experience to stimulate strategic thinking and advance outcomes at participants' home institutions. Self-awareness will be increased while building skills to engage with discussions and issues surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I). Participants will develop a diversity plan designed to drive excellence specifically tailored to their organization. At the conclusion of this program, a certificate will be awarded.
Muñoz, who is a member and Co-Chair of the UArizona Nursing’s burgeoning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, has a longstanding and deep commitment to issues of inclusive excellence in higher education, and society in general. “Amid the ongoing racial and health pandemics, the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,’ remind me that we, collectively, can be a catalyst for social change,” he said. “As a Mexican-American person who has had many alienating experiences studying and working in higher education, I am well aware of how meaningful it is to be heard and supported by leadership and other members of the college community. It can make the difference between barely getting through a program, and graduating with pride and purpose.”
Inclusivity and excellence are more than just words for Muñoz. They are principles that guide his daily interactions with faculty, staff and students and inform his worldview as well as his hopes for a brighter future. “The common thread through my professional experience has been my commitment to creating and facilitating spaces to collaboratively learn, develop strategies, and promote equity within spheres of influence,” he said.
As a member of the Wildcat Nurse community, Muñoz sees a particular need to enrich the diversity of the nursing profession to better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse society. He points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the differences in health outcomes and care for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). “Universities, colleges, and nursing programs specifically are beginning to focus on increasing diversity as they seek to effectively prepare nursing students to serve diverse clients and communities,” he said. “Diverse voices from governance, faculty, staff, and students allow nurse educators to collaboratively develop policies and practices that benefit all learners and members of the health care system. The current lack of diversity and inclusion in the nurse workforce, student population, staff, and faculty impedes the ability of nursing to achieve excellent care for all.”
Muñoz’s participation in the AACN Diversity Leadership Institute will aid him in growing his skill sets to support an inclusive environment where everyone feels empowered to share their experiences and ideas. His capstone project will address strategies to develop a structure and processes to support ED&I and health equity at UArizona Nursing. “This program has great potential to help me direct strategy and make impact for ED&I programming into the future,” he said.
He is enthusiastic about the prospect of playing a creative and collaborative leadership role in establishing a new strategic direction for diversity and inclusion at the College of Nursing. “I will continue to engage in efforts that create a sense of belonging for all students, staff and faculty that ensures everyone feels included and valued. I will strive to build and nurture a culture where inclusiveness is a reflex, not an initiative. Where there is a deep sense of pride, passion and belonging that transcends any role, business unit, language, or country and is unified in our shared commitment to inclusive excellence, innovation and care.”