When BU Profiles launched in 2012, it was intended to serve as an online dossier for biomedical researchers to engage in research networking and collaboration. It employs software that automatically updates user profile categories like publication, citations, grant funding, honors, co-author research networks and publication timelines Over time, BU Profiles evolved to provide researchers with metrics to monitor and assess their research productivity, impact on science and policy, and influence on the public through social media and news stories.
Now, the platform has been further enhanced to give the nearly 5,000 biomedical faculty, researchers and staff who use the site the option of adding a personalized Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) statement to their profile.
“It’s really about the importance overall of diversity in our organization, in society, and a recognition that higher education has to be a leader,” said Christopher Dorney, director of BUMC IT’s application services. The site has 4,662 profile users with 16,000 unique visitors monthly.
It’s something advocates hope will resonate within the academic community and inspire and sustain the collective multicultural growth of students, staff and faculty.
“BU Profiles now enables our community to convey a unified public message on how they see their research, mentoring, teaching, clinical practice and service contributing to a campus culture that values diversity and inclusion and accessibility,” said Deborah Fournier, PhD, BUMC assistant provost for Institutional Research and Evaluation. BU Profiles is part of a translational research networking initiative supported by BU’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
“We’re asking profile users to reflect on the meaning of (DEIA) in their professional lives and to join us in a collective response in documenting our commitment to enhance our culture of inclusive excellence that enables students, staff and faculty to learn and work on a campus where they feel valued, seen and heard,” said Fournier who oversees BU Profiles with Dorney and Christopher Shanahan, MD, associate professor of general internal medicine, director of the Community Medicine Unit and BUMC faculty lead for research networking.
Recent BUSM personnel decisions may help gain widespread adoption. The medical school’s executive committee approved including a DEIA statement as part of new job applications and it’s now an optional question in annual reviews for basic science and clinical faculty.
BU Profiles users have complete control over what gets displayed on their profile and can remove or edit their DEIA statement at any time. It can be a personal essay of past experiences and how these experiences have contributed to one’s personal and professional growth, for example, or a description of academic pursuits and accomplishments.
In her profile, Assistant Professor of Medicine Mara Murray Horwitz, MD, MPH, used a few brief paragraphs to filter her work as a clinician, researcher and teacher through the lens of “improving health care outcomes and equity, and to helping build a more diverse workforce in medicine.”
Befitting her background and new role as Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion, the DEIA statement of Angelique Harris, PhD, details her work on issues of diversity and inclusion listing her awards, her involvement on national and BU committees, courses taught, publications and speaking engagements.
“I am deeply familiar with the benefits, challenges and opportunities that come with promoting inclusive excellence,” Harris wrote in her personal essay.
But not everyone has Harris’ experience and fluency in the language of diversity and inclusion. Faculty may have concerns about staking out a public position on what has become a politically divisive topic or want assistance with thinking through their experiences and ideas.
For those who want help with their DEIA statement, online seminars will begin Oct. 17 and continue monthly through February 2023. Participants will receive tips on how to write diversity statements and how to incorporate their DEIA work on their CVs and BU Profiles.
The DEIA seminar series is offered to all BU faculty through BUMC Faculty Development and Diversity. Participants thus far have largely come from faculty active in equity issues, but Fournier anticipates the number of statements on the platform will grow over the next year due to shared understandings emerging from seminar discussions.