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New Assistant Provost for Gender/Minority Equity Issues

L. Jemmott

Provost Robert Barchi announced last week that Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott, van Ameringen Professor in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, has been named Assistant Provost, effective May 1. Working closely with Associate Provost Janice Bellace, Dr. Jemmott will have primary responsibility for faculty gender and minority equity issues.

 "Janice and I are thrilled to have Loretta join us to ensure gender and minority equity concerns remain at the forefront of the University's strategic thinking," said Provost Barchi. "Loretta's background and experience make her a natural for this position. We couldn't have found a better candidate to help us make progress in these important areas."

Dr. Jemmott's research has focused on numerous health issues effecting women and minorities. She is one of the nation's foremost psychiatric mental health nurse behavioral scientists in the field of HIV risk reduction research. Her premier contribution to the advancement of psychiatric mental health nursing is the development of knowledge on how best to facilitate and promote changes in health behaviors. During the course of her career, Dr. Jemmott has received over $74-million in federal funding, as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator for her work on HIV prevention. She has led the nation in understanding the psychological determinants underlying why people engage in HIV risk-related sexual behavior and in developing strategies for reducing those risk-related behaviors among African American and Latino youth and women. Dr. Jemmott has partnered with community-based organizations, including churches, clinics and schools, to effectively translate and disseminate her research into prevention programs. Her work has resulted in the national dissemination and translation of three of her evidenced-based HIV risk reduction curricula by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Adolescent and School Health, as model curricula in their "Programs That Work" initiative. 

 "I am excited and eager to undertake this new role in the Provost's Office," said Dr. Jemmott. "For me as an African American woman, scholar, nurse, educator, parent, community leader, and human being, the importance of equity and fairness for all people has been and continues to be one of my core life values. As an advocate and ally for gender and minority equity, I hope to continue the work that is presently being carried out here at Penn in terms of recruitment, retention, education and celebration of women and people of color. It is critical that faculty, staff, students, and administrators are prepared to live and work in a global society that values, appreciates, understands and celebrates our differences and similarities. What a better place for this all to occur than here at the University of Pennsylvania--the nation's leading educational institution."

Dr. Jemmott is an internationally renowned scholar, having been invited by the NIH as a U.S. delegate to South Africa to help develop HIV risk-reduction research initiatives. This resulted in a NIH funded HIV risk-reduction study for South African youth. Dr. Jemmott's research has changed public policy as it relates to the use of theory-driven, culturally appropriate, evidenced-based HIV risk-reduction interventions in community settings. She has presented her research to the U.S. Congress at an HIV Prevention Briefing and at the NIH's Consensus Development Conference on Interventions to Reduce HIV Risk Behaviors. Dr. Jemmott has received numerous prestigious awards for her significant contribution to the profession, to the field of HIV prevention research and to the community. Two such honors, the U.S. Congressional Merit Award and election to membership in the Institute of Medicine, are honors accorded very few nurses.

 "I'm absolutely thrilled that one of our nursing faculty members will be part of the University team that focuses on minority and gender equity," said Dean of the School of Nursing Afaf Meleis. "Her longstanding interest in equity will help in our increasing focus on diversity issues at Penn. I look forward to working with her in this new position."

Dr. Jemmott established and currently directs the School of Nursing's Center for Urban Health Research and the newly-funded Center for Health Disparities Research and is Co-Chair of the University's Center for AIDS Research, Behavior and Social Science Research Core.

 "Having Loretta on board, focusing on issues of gender and minority equity will be an enormous boost to the Provost's Office efforts in this area," said Associate Provost Bellace. "This will enable us to make even more significant progress in these crucial areas."



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 30, April 20, 2004