Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability in Nursing Education Lectureship Award

This award recognizes outstanding contributions made by schools of nursing that champion diversity, inclusion, and sustainability in nursing education. Annual awards may be given to one school in each of the following categories: Public Colleges/Universities, Private College/Universities, Small Liberal Arts Colleges, and Academic Health Centers.

Public colleges and universities are higher education institutions that are mainly funded by state governments, whereas private colleges and universities rely on student tuition fees, alumni, and endowments to fund their academic programs.

Academic Health Centers as defined by the Association of Academic Health Centers, is "an institution that consists of an allopathic or osteopathic medical school, at least one other health professions school or program, and at least one affiliated or owned teaching hospital."

Diversity is defined as individual attributes that extend beyond race, age, and gender to also include, but are not limited to, characteristics such as national origin, immigrant status, language, color, disability, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures. Inclusion is defined as a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness as well as leverages diversity so that all individuals are able to participate and contribute to their full potential. An inclusive environment must be created in order for diversity to flourish. Sustainability occurs when structures and strategies to manage diversity and institutionalize a culture of inclusion are in place.

AACN presents this award to honor and recognize nursing schools for their extraordinary commitment to diversity excellence and inclusion in their learning environments.

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New Deadline: May 15, 2023.

  • Established an organizational culture with an extraordinary and unfailing commitment to diversity, inclusion, cultural humility, and community outreach.
  • Demonstrated an organizational commitment to the recruitment, development, and retention of individuals from all populations.
  • Developed and implemented effective initiatives as demonstrated by a diversified student population and faculty.
  • Cultivated and promoted diversity initiatives that establish and foster a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion through the development or involvement in tangible strategies, (i.e., projects, initiatives).
  • Outstanding advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the interpersonal, unit, and institutional levels.
Areas of Acheivement

Success in leading and enhancing diversity and inclusion efforts can be demonstrated in many ways. Nominations should be based on leadership in one or more of the following areas:

  • Addresses key areas of diversity and inclusion such as recruitment, retention, campus/department culture and climate, research, clinical practice or community outreach.
  • Activities to recruit, retain, and professionally develop individuals who increase the diversity of faculty or staff.
  • Activities to attract or recruit students who increase the diversity of schools or to help ensure the success of those students.
  • Activities to create leadership teams and organizations that promote a diverse and inclusive culture.
  • Sponsors or actively promotes programs, initiatives, or projects in diversity and inclusion.
  • Collaboration with campus or community groups in the creation, sponsorship, and implementation of programs, initiatives, or projects in diversity and inclusion.

The winners will demonstrate excellence in nursing education in both of the following areas:

I. Creating Change – Influencing change and adapting academic environments, and/or raising awareness of the need to promote diversity, inclusion, and sustainability in nursing education. Nominations must:

  • Clearly articulate the focus of the nomination
  • State the impact of actions taken by the school
  • Identify scope of change, i.e., partners, community engagement
  • Address sustainability

2. Influencing Others – Serves as an opinion leader and recognized advocate for diversity, inclusion, and sustainability resulting in significant organizational or community impact.

Below are examples of how the awardee might influence others and create change.

  • Continually Learning – Develops educational programs, professional development opportunities, and/or awareness events that support this award’s triple aim.
  • Cultivating Diverse Teams – Creates inclusive teams of faculty, staff, students, mentors, and other constituents representing the rich diversity of communities served.
  • Risk Taking – Advances innovative solutions and decisive actions that break new ground in the drive to champion diversity, inclusion, and sustainability.
  • Accountable for Diversity and Inclusion – Sets standards, advances strategies, and/or implements measures to ensure that goals related to diversity and inclusion are met.
  • External Leadership Involvement – Plays a leading role in advancing diversity, inclusion, and sustainability in the nursing profession in addition to local efforts.
Application Process

Applicant nursing schools must be an AACN member institution. The application letter should not exceed five pages in length and be single-spaced, 12-point font, with one-inch margins. All applications should be electronically submitted via the online application.

1. Letters of application must include the following:  

  • How the nursing school has been instrumental in achieving diversity, inclusion, and sustainability in nursing education.
  • Description of the school’s diversity-related programs, initiatives, and/or projects that fulfill the award criteria using concrete examples.
  • The impact of the nursing school’s efforts. Please include numbers of affected individuals; programs or policies implemented; and any other relevant measurements of successful diversity efforts. The evidence can be both quantitative and qualitative.

2. Reference letters: Two external letters of reference, outside the nursing academic unit, must accompany the application. Both letters must address the nursing school’s contributions towards advancing diversity and inclusion, including their diversity efforts, their impact and sustainability.

Submission Process

View the online application

All nominations must be received by 5:00 pm (ET) on May 15. 

Presentation of Awards

Each winning school will receive a $1,000 award and plaque. The award and lectureship opportunity will be presented annually at the AACN Diversity Symposium.


For more information, contact AACN's Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion , Christine Downing at (202) 463-6930, ext. 266 or at cdowning@aacnnursing.org.

Congratulations to the 2022 Award Recipients!

Dominican University

Small/Liberal Arts Colleges Award:

Dominican University

Claflin University

Private Colleges and Universities:

Claflin University

The Ohio State University

Academic Health Centers Award:

The Ohio State University

See past award winners >>