The GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) is among the oldest schools of medicine in the United States, established in 1824, and the first in the nation’s capital. In 1884, SMHS enrolled its first female student, distinguishing itself for decades as one of the only medical schools in the nation to admit women. This groundbreaking work paved the way for the acceptance of students from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and those with a variety of previous life experiences.  Since that time, women have made up a significant number of the matriculates, comprising nearly 50 percent of each incoming class for more than 20 years.

The SMHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion was then created in 2013, as evidence of our continuing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The result has been an enormous opportunity for growth in our mission to teach with creativity and dedication, heal with quality and compassion, and discover with imagination and innovation. In 2020, SMHS appointed its first female dean, Dr. Barbara Bass, and under her leadership has established the Anti-Racism Coalition, an initiative that seeks to create a culture of equity, equality and opportunity for all.  As we move forward and build on the legacy of diversity and inclusion at SMHS, we are committed to do so with strategic intention.

As a leader in embracing diversity, the staff of the SMHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion works from the paradigm that academic excellence and diversity are inextricably linked. We believe that diversity benefits all members of the academic enterprise. As such, the efforts and initiatives of the SMHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion are focused on promoting a positive institutional culture and climate and creating a community of excellence where all are welcomed and valued.


The School of Medicine and Health Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion envisions a community distinguished by the depth of its diversity and the value placed on it.


The mission of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to lead and support the efforts of each SMHS department to attract talented students, faculty, and staff inclusive of those who are traditionally underrepresented and to foster a culture and climate that appreciates the added value of diversity.


  • In conjunction with the Office of Faculty Affairs, strengthen faculty search procedures, ensuring that individuals with backgrounds underrepresented in medicine and women are well represented in search committees and developing metrics to assess goals in recruiting a more diverse faculty.
  • Work with the Office of Admissions to help SMHS recruit students with identities underrepresented in medicine and develop pipeline programs.
  • Coordinate with the Office of Media Relations and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations to enhance external support for diversity and equity programs, with an emphasis on undergraduate and graduate scholarships and fellowships.
  • Build and maintain communications with local and national organizations that support shared learning programs of diversity and equity.