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COPH Appoints New Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education ( H B H E ) Brooke Montgomery, P h D, M P H

Brooke Montgomery, PhD

Brooke E.E. Montgomery, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health (COPH), is the new Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the College, effective August 1.

Dr. Montgomery is the founding president of the UAMS Minority Faculty Development Caucus and a member of the UAMS Chancellor’s Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee.

Diversity of the College’s faculty will be Dr. Montgomery’s first priority in the coming months. Reinvigorating the COPH Diversity Committee and junior faculty development – on the college as well as UAMS level – are among her longer term goals for her new role.

“The first order of business is strengthening the diversity of our faculty,” Dr. Montgomery said. “Our faculty is relatively diverse, but it definitely could be better. It is important that we attract and retain a diverse faculty that feel supported and want to stay in Arkansas to help address health issues in our state.”

Efforts to increase faculty diversity will focus on racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities, as well as regional differences, rural origin in particular.

According to Dr. Montgomery, those “health issues in Arkansas” include health inequities and disparities disproportionately experienced by minority and impoverished groups, who in general have poorer health status, as well as poorer healthcare access and quality, than their mainstream counterparts.

Dr. Montgomery also sees the “broader definition of diversity” as encompassing other minorities, including persons with a disability and military veterans, and as essential to the College’s three-pronged mission of research, teaching and service.

For now, she is in a “learning phase” focused on faculty diversity. In particular, she wants to meet with chairs to learn how faculty searches are currently done. She envisions serving as a resource for search committees on best practices for identifying qualified candidates with diverse talents, expertise and perspectives to bring to public health.

“I would like to provide search committees with effective tools and strategic steps to enable them to cast a broader net for attracting well-qualified diverse applicants and eventually hiring the applicant who will best serve the College and the state,” Dr. Montgomery said.

Dr. Montgomery’s passion for improving the health of diverse and marginalized populations is reflected in her scientific pursuits. She is a researcher in the areas of sexual risk reduction, sexually transmitted infection prevention, and determinants of risk behavior in vulnerable populations such as minority women, illicit drug users, and survivors of violence. Her work in this area began while she was a graduate assistant at the COPH, working for Katharine E. Stewart, PhD, MPH, who at the time was a Professor in HBHE and the COPH Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

As a student and now as faculty, Dr. Montgomery has been the recipient of a number of awards supporting her research, including a predoctoral award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and an HIV Prevention Trials Network Scholar Award, focusing on HIV prevention among impoverished women. She was also a KL2 Scholar of the UAMS Translational Research Institute in sexual health promotion among women who have experienced violence.

Dr. Montgomery joined the COPH HBHE faculty as an Instructor in 2011 and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 2012. She is a graduate of UAMS COPH, earning an MPH with honors in 2007 and a PhD in Health Promotion and Prevention in 2011.