A Message from President Aceves

Dear Colleagues, 

As we embrace the start of Black History Month, let us pay homage to the remarkable contributions and achievements made by the Black community throughout history. While honoring our rich past, let's also acknowledge the present and envision a world in the future that fosters warmth, inclusivity, and equity for all.

I invited Dr. LaToya Braun, a professor and assistant dean at Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions School of Pharmacy to reflect on Black History Month. Here is what she shared.  

“This month, we celebrate National Black History Month and reflect on the contributions of Black Americans to the country’s history and how history has impacted Black Americans. As a Black woman in healthcare education, I am honored to write a reflection on RHCHP, Black Americans, and healthcare.

In preparation, I considered Black members of the RHCHP community. My first thoughts were to the numerous Black students I taught in the School of Pharmacy during my decade at Regis and the promise of accessible healthcare providers and educators of color. As someone who grew up thinking that pharmacists only counted pills, I appreciate my occasions working with the students of SNPhA on outreach activities, introducing the pharmacy profession to youth attending schools with high populations of minoritized students. Curtis Theard, PharmD (2022), finds the SNPhA outreach activities so meaningful he returns to campus from across state lines to support these events at Regis! I am also grateful that Phyllis Graham-Dickerson, PhD, CNS, is a colleague. Dr. Graham-Dickerson, professor emerita and former Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Nursing, is the Ignatian Fellow for RHCHP. As the Ignatian Fellow, she engages the RHCHP community in DEI activities, including those dealing with race and racism. I am looking forward to her upcoming campus-wide discussion about the movie “Origin.” Finally, I elevate Dr. Brandon Johnson (DPT Class of 2023), the first Black student body president in the Regis DPT program. In an article about this accomplishment, an eloquent account of his journey to the DPT program, an uncommon degree for Black Americans, and the health challenges he faced as a youth, which mirror many in the African American community, are bravely told.

Black Americans face health disparities. The  Center for Disease Control and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reports many comparisons of outcomes for Non-Hispanic Black versus non-Hispanic White US populations (https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/blackafrican-american-health ). According to this source, the dubious honor of the highest rates of adult obesity belongs to African American women. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol. African Americans were generally less likely than White Americans to engage in leisure aerobic or physical activities. In the case of diabetes, this same source reports even more dire statistics for both African American men and women. Incidence and outcomes were worse than those of their White counterparts. The statistics for infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis were even more sobering. The health disparities in infant mortality rates continue to exist. On the surface, the mental health statistics were not as alarming for Black Americans when compared to White Americans. However, based on what I know of my “personal” African American communities, I wonder how much a relative lack of interaction with counseling and mental health care providers in Black communities skews this dataset. Nevertheless, work remains to be done to improve the health outcomes of Black people in America. What will Regis University, RHCHP, and its alums do to contribute positively to this chapter in Black History? 

As I witness how we write our parts of Black History, I am encouraged. RHCHP’s community of students and faculty with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds treated underserved communities with care at health fairs, immunization clinics, and education outreach programs well before my arrival on campus. These crucial activities to support the health of the underserved could not happen without the dedication of the RHCHP staff. I want to believe this work is prioritized in RHCHP because we recognize that a just society includes access to health care for all. For several years, RHCHP students have engaged in interprofessional education (IPE) activities to improve outcomes by improving the healthcare team. Later this month, I am excited to be a faculty preceptor for the implicit bias IPE module. RHCHP is creating spaces for our future healthcare providers to see their implicit biases head-on. Recognizing and acknowledging the biases and experiences that one brings to each encounter can lead to better care and health outcomes. Finally, Regis is educating healthcare leaders who will serve communities for decades to come. We, faculty, staff, and students, must continue to support a safe, curious learning environment to nurture healthcare providers who see the whole patient, including environmental, economic, and societal factors that may be contributing to the health outcomes and ask, “How does this inform my approach?”

Many thanks, Dr. Braun. Viewing the world through our Jesuit values, we express gratitude for the extraordinary accomplishments of our Black colleagues and students at Regis. Let's actively embrace the vibrant history of the Black community, which has profoundly shaped our nation. I encourage you to engage in the various activities happening on campus throughout the month. May these initiatives underscore our commitment to cultivating a more just and humane world.



Salvador D. Aceves, Ed.D