Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability in Nursing Education Lectureship Award

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. For more information on AACN's diversity initiatives, visit www.aacnnursing.org/diversity

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

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The application deadline has been extended to 12:00 pm (ET) on January 15, 2022.

  • 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 level.
  • Demonstrated a commitment to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion within their areas of influence.
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

Recipients will be chosen by AACN’s Board of Directors.

Applications must be made by representatives of AACN member institutions. 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 applicant's institution has been instrumental in achieving diversity, inclusion, and sustainability in nursing education.
  • How the applicant's institution fulfilled the criteria using concrete examples.
  • Description of the diversity-related program, initiative, or project.
  • The impact of the applicant's institution’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 must address the applicant’s diversity efforts, impact, and sustainability of the contribution that the applicant has made towards advancing diversity and inclusion.

Submission Process

View the online application

All nominations must be received by 12:00 pm (ET) on January 15. 

Presentation of Awards

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


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

Congratulations to the 2021 Award Recipients!

Dr. Pamela Cook

Public Colleges and Universities:

Dr. Pamela Cook
Interim Associat Dean, Student Affairs
Augusta University, Augusta, GA

Dr. Geraldine Young

Private Colleges and Universities:

Dr. Geraldine Young
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Frontier Nursing University, Versailles, KY

Dr. Phoenix Matthews

Academic Health Centers:

Dr. Phoenix Matthews
Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in the College of Nursing
University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL

See past award winners >>