Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Infusion with Intentionality at Rasmussen University: A Trifecta Approach

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Brief Abstract

At Rasmussen University, we have chosen an intentional approach to the cyclical process of analysis, design, implementation, with continuous evaluation to ensure we are addressing the need to improve our intercultural competence, by adopting and improving equitable practices and fostering an environment of inclusion for our students, faculty, and staff. This process is guided by a trifecta model that incorporates diversity into course design and curriculum, teaching and learning, and an intentional application using a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) enhanced lens.


Dr. Rikkisha (Rikki) Gilmore-Byrd has focused her work on diversity, equity, and inclusion in health, wellness and life. Certified as a health coach and life coach, Rikki enjoys coaching people to become their best iteration of themselves. She is currently the Dean of The School of Education, The School of Justice Studies and Human Services programs at Rasmussen University. Rikki is passionate about supporting people to become the best version of themselves on their health and wellness journey. She has worked in various health and human services since she was 16 years old, beginning as a Medical Assistant. Dr. Rikki Byrd earned a Master of Science Degree in Human Services/Counseling, a Master of Public Health Degree and a Doctor of Public Health focused on improving health communication through cultural humility to improve health equity with vulnerable populations. Rikki has transferred that knowledge into Higher Education. Addressing curriculum, learning, and teaching with an equity lens has created many different initiatives and opportunities to support students. Dr. Rikki Byrd resides in Central FL with her three children and spouse.

Extended Abstract

At Rasmussen, we seek to provide an equitable experience and level playing field for all our students. Our recent efforts in doing so have led us to focus on students who are within an achievement gap, which means there is a disparity in academic performance between students who are in different groups. We are continuously identifying, defining, analyzing the factors that have contributed to this achievement gap. We have chosen to take an “Equity-Minded” approach, which includes strategic, diversity-infused curriculum and course design and teaching and learning that fosters inclusivity and belongingness. In taking this approach, we have developed strategies to infuse DEI, particularly an equitable experience within our curriculum and academic practices.

At Rasmussen University, we pride ourselves on making sure our students are equipped with transferable skills—six essential skills that have been added to all our programs—to help students succeed in their field, in the workplace, community, and personally. The term “transferable” indicates that the skills convey success in other academic settings and in careers. We have recently redesigned one of the transferable skills—diversity and teamwork—as “diversity, equity, & inclusion.” In doing so, we created the following three-part progression of proficiency to incorporate DEI in the curriculum of our programs.

Describing the importance of appreciating all types of diversity.

Explaining how to cultivate fair, respectful, and equitable treatment, opportunities, and outcomes for others and oneself.

Practicing intercultural empathy, engagement, and understanding within communities.

This intentional infusion into our cyclical course design process ensures our students are exposed to skills to support their understanding of the benefits and challenges of diversity, strategies to operate with an equity mindset, and tools to create and sustain inclusive environments. We have created a leveling guide that showcases how DEI is infused from the Associate degree through the Doctoral degree, at the Introduction level, Application level, and Mastery level. Our overall goal is to create an experience that prepares our students to live and work as part of a diverse world.

It is critical that our faculty are also infusing DEI presence in their instructional delivery.  We have created the Rasmussen University Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Course Audit Rubric which assigns a score of: Not Equitable, Diverse, and Equitable and Inclusive to the categories of representation, relevance, language, faculty, and access in our classrooms.

Our trifecta approach includes the recognition that DEI is a skill we would like to equip all our students with (Acknowledgement), the infusion into our curriculum and course rooms (Infusion), and continuous improvement through (Maintenance). With our AIM acronym, we aim to empower our students to embrace the fact that DEI is everybody’s responsibility and civic duty, by addressing DEI issues in the community and workplace and striving always to apply equity-minded approaches.