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Cultural Competence is Core Value for UNCW's Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. Kent Guion, UNCW's first Chief Diversity Officer

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has hired its first Chief Diversity Officer.  Dr. Kent Guion launched his professional career as a medical doctor.  It was epidemiology – the study of disease on defined populations – and health disparities among different ethnicities that fascinated him.  During that time, Guion found that a higher degree of cultural competency – that’s the ability to communicate effectively with people of different cultures – made a measurable, positive difference in health outcomes. 

But Guion says cultural competence and its benefits aren’t confined to ethnic differences in medicine.  A study by the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity took a close look at the gap in science scores between girls and boys.

"The only intervention they did was gender equity training of the teachers.  And lo and behold, two years afterwards, scores for all children in that district went up just based upon gender equity training – not only for the girl students – but for the boy students as well."

As Chief Diversity Officer, Guion will develop UNCW’s first consolidated, strategic plan for inclusion.  And, he says, he’ll collaborate with Cape Fear Community College – as well as organizations within the broader community. 

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.