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The Catalyst

Faculty member, student honored for work in diversity

By Annalise Baker-Whitcomb
Public Relations

The Earl B. Higgins Achievement in Diversity Awards were established to honor the late Earl B. Higgins, called a “warrior for diversity,” by his sister, Deborah Higgins, who presented the awards. These awards honor MUSC students, faculty and employees who enrich the diversity of the institution and encourage others to do the same.

“Institutions need to encourage the preparation of medical professionals despite race, gender and orientation,” said Deborah Higgins. “We need to reach out and cast our nets wide to manage our future problems in health care.”

College of Medicine Dean Dr. Etta
Pisano and SGA President Brandon Hagan won the Earl B. Higgins Achievement in Diversity Awards.

Etta Pisano, M.D., vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, was the faculty recipient this year. Pisano joined MUSC in 2010.

“We make better decisions when we consult with people with different types of backgrounds and ethnicities,” she said. “Organizations that are more diverse tend to be more successful organizations.”

During Pisano’s tenure, the percentage of women in leadership positions has increased from 26 to 32 percent. Pisano helped to provide funding for many female faculty members to attend the Association of American Medical Colleges’ professional development programs as well as the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program.

She requires College of Medicine search committees to provide a diverse applicant pool, and she has appointed two female department chairs and the first African-American department chair in the history of the College of Medicine.

Pisano expanded the College of Medicine’s diversity program at all levels for the college’s students, resident physicians, staff and faculty, working towards greater cultural understanding. In addition, she worked with the College of Medicine’s diversity committee to expand the recruitment of students who are underrepresented in medicine.

Brandon Hagan, president of the Student Government Association as well as of the Student National Dental Association MUSC chapter, was the student recipient for the Higgins Diversity Award.

Hagan has worked extensively with the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine’s Diversity office, traveling across the state to talk to prospective students, with a focus on underrepresented populations. Hagan serves as a student ambassador for MUSC, as well as for the American Dental Association.

He has volunteered for multiple health fairs to inform communities about oral hygiene and organized the involvement of the SNDA within a health fair in Ravenel. Hagan also started the Impressions program, which exposes students to dentistry careers.

Hagan’s research, “Healthcare Disparities Amongst Minorities: Challenges, Successes and Opportunities” was presented during an MUSC Black History month event in 2011.

April 24, 2013

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