By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Twenty-two year South Salt Lake resident Dr. Valerie Flattes was named the first associate dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at the University of Utah College of Nursing (CON).

“I am delighted that the CON is leading health sciences in the appointment of an inaugural Associate Dean for EDI. I am especially excited to work with Dr. Flattes as she paves new paths in our journey for University of Utah Health to transform into national leaders of EDI,” Dr. José Rodríguez, associate vice president for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at University of Utah Health, said.

“As we continue on our journey towards meeting our commitment to create a diverse and inclusive environment for faculty, staff, students, and patients, Dr. Flattes is well-qualified to serve as the CON’s inaugural Associate Dean for EDI,” Dr. Marla De Jong, dean of the CON, said, “A respected, experienced, and authentic leader, Dr. Flattes broadly embraces diversity and inclusion—including race, ethnicity, education, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veteran status, religion, and diversity of thought—and will champion for and create a welcoming, equitable, and inclusive environment within the college in which to work, learn, and collaborate.”

Dr. Flattes

Flattes has served as a career line faculty member at the CON for 17 years. She currently serves as a clinical assistant professor and director for the Adult/Gerontology Primary Care specialty track of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.  

She graduated with a diploma in nursing from the Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1974. She later earned three degrees and two certificates from the University of Utah—a bachelor of science in nursing in 1997, a master of science degree as a gerontological nurse practitioner/adult nurse practitioner in 2002, a doctor of philosophy in nursing in 2020, a health care management certificate in 1998, and an interdisciplinary gerontology certificate in 2016.

Flattes possesses a range of clinical experiences working with diverse populations across the United States and has worked with college, university, and state organizations to promote health equity. Focusing on the health of those from underrepresented groups, Flattes has worked with the Utah Department of Health Office of Health Disparities Reduction, the Council on Diversity Affairs, the Utah Black Roundtable, the Utah African American Health Taskforce, and the CON Faculty Advisory Committee Diversity Taskforce. Her background in nursing includes medical-surgical nursing, obstetrics, long-term care, emergency nursing, home health care, community engagement, minority health issues, and health equity.

Associate Dean for EDI

The new leadership position was developed to provide collaborative, strategic, and results-oriented leadership for CON-wide EDI efforts and assimilate the tenets of EDI into the CON’s culture. In her new role, Flattes will lead initiatives to integrate equity, diversity, and inclusion into college culture, including academic programs, research, and scholarship; clinical practice; recruitment and retention of students, staff, and faculty; hiring and promotion practices; and community engagement. In addition, she will advise CON curriculum committees, develop, mentor diverse students and faculty, and optimize initiatives that support the belonging and success of all CON members. 

“The voices of underrepresented health sciences members who are faculty, staff, and students need to be heard. The University of Utah is in a critical place with regards to developing a needed plan of action that fosters breaking down the systemic barriers for equity and inclusion for all of its members,” Flattes said. “I have always said that there is work to be done. While the committees I have served on over the last 20 years have good intentions, this has been met with minimal movement. The recent events and violent acts of this past year make it imperative that steps be developed and implemented to create a climate of belonging and inclusion. The time has come to act on what we have developed over the past several years so that all faculty, staff, and students feel that they are welcome and included in the university community. I look forward to serving as the Associate Dean for EDI and leading initiatives to continue to develop a more inclusive campus.”

“This appointment demonstrates the CON’s long-term commitment toward becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive college,” De Jong said. “Dr. Flattes brings historical knowledge and years of service to the college, university, and community and is poised to inspire the college to reach new heights.”

College of Nursing (CON)

The University of Utah College of Nursing was officially established in 1948. However, “the first CON nursing diplomas were offered in 1916 to a class of six students who trained within the Salt Lake County General Hospital,” according to the CON website.

The CON developed the first midwifery academic program west of the Mississippi in 1965. In 1969, the college moved into its current building on the University of Utah Health Sciences campus.

Currently, they allow 72 enrollments into the undergraduate program for the fall and spring semesters. In addition, they also offer three master’s programs and two doctorate programs.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, they have the No. 11 best nursing-midwifery program. The Doctor of Nursing is rated No. 23, and the online Master of Science in Nursing Program is ranked No. 38. 

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