Advancing Equity through Relationships: Honoring Kathleen Hickey's Legacy

Last month, Interim Provost Dennis A. Mitchell delivered the third annual Kathleen Hickey Endowed Lectureship in Science of Cardiovascular Care on February 8, 2024 at the Columbia School of Nursing.

February 27, 2024

The lecture series, hosted by the school’s Center for Research on People of Color, is the first endowed lectureship at Columbia University honoring a nurse scientist. It commemorates the life and work of Kathleen Hickey, EdD, a distinguished Columbia Nursing professor who left an indelible mark on cardiovascular health research. Her groundbreaking contributions encompassed cardiogenetics, arrhythmia management, and the prevention of sudden cardiac death.
Mitchell, Executive Vice President of University Life and Professor of Dental Medicine, highlighted the crucial role of relationships in advancing equity at Columbia and beyond.

Watch the full video or read an excerpt below.

Drawing parallels between his own journey in dental medicine and Hickey's research in cardiology, Mitchell emphasized the importance of honoring Hickey's commitment to advancing patient care and interdisciplinary collaboration. He recounted his early work on HIV research in marginalized communities and working closely with community members to address their unique needs.

“I have experienced the heartbreak—and the triumph—that comes with the work of addressing disparities and dismantling structural inequities. But I have also found tremendous solidarity in this work from my peers, from visionary leaders in the College of Dental Medicine, at CUIMC, and across Columbia. This work is personal…and cannot be done alone.”

Mitchell remarked

Reflecting on the evolution of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, Mitchell acknowledged the changing landscape and stressed the importance of belonging in DEI efforts. He underscored the need to build genuine relationships based on engagement and connection and to develop proactive, long-term strategies to anticipate crises. He added that the essence of equity work extends beyond being reactive; advancing equity requires sustained commitment and concerted effort.
Highlighting CUIMC's leadership in DEI initiatives, he praised the school’s commitment to diversifying student bodies and implementing innovative programs. He also acknowledged CUIMC leadership's support for DEI efforts, citing initiatives devoted to building pathways programs and reducing health disparities, in particular for the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and neighbors in upper Manhattan.
Echoing the values championed by Hickey throughout her distinguished career, Mitchell concluded with a call to action by urging attendees to build connections to create a more inclusive future where all voices are heard.