In order to better recruit and retain students, faculty and staff, Arkansas College of Health Education has hired Dr. Christopher Smith as the college’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Smith, who started with the college in September, will serve as the chief diversity officer to develop strategies to enhance the recruitment, retention and academic success of ACHE students.
“We hired a Director of DEI in order to help fulfill ACHE’s commitment to enhancing its recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff, particularly from underrepresented groups,” said Susan Devero, executive director of marketing and communications.
Some of Smith’s objectives in the position will be to develop innovative and longitudinal strategies for diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism and anti-bias themes across the curriculum for all students, while encouraging research initiatives to address disparities and minority health issues. Devero said.
He will work with ACHE’s administration to examine policies and procedures and to acknowledge the various lived experiences of our students, faculty, and staff while creating an environment dedicated to acceptance while addressing the health disparities and inequities within the state and beyond.
“Using his strong leadership skills and decision-making abilities, Dr. Smith will work with our faculty and staff to foster student learning across ACHE. He is a great asset to our team of leaders, and I am thrilled to have his experience in student engagement and success at ACHE,” said Kyle Parker ACHE president and CEO.
An Arkansas native, Smith has a master’s degree in public administration from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, and a doctor of education degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has experience in higher education and most recently served as the dean of student Services at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana in Hope, where he founded the UAHT Iron Horse Pantry. He served as the chair of the Chancellor’s Taskforce on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and on the University of Arkansas System Board’s Task Force on Racial Equity.
“Some of my goals as the Director of DEI is to continue to grow ACHE as a leader in educating future healthcare professionals while impacting the state and region through various DEI-focused campus and community-wide initiatives dedicated to creating a welcoming environment and addressing health inequalities,” Smith said. “Another important goal is to create a robust partnership and recruitment pipeline with historical black colleges and universities as well as minority serving institutions.”