Building a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Community

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

Student fashion show

The School of Dentistry Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee leverages the current diversity in the dental school to create and sustain an environment that values and fosters diversity in teaching, research and community engagement.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee serves as a venue for gathering data and channeling feedback to the appropriate parties within the School of Dentistry and the University, developing recommendations and prioritizing actions to improve the climate at the School of Dentistry.

The Committee was created in 2012 as an ad hoc committee under the auspices of the Dean’s office with the goal of creating and sustaining an environment that values diversity in its purpose, peoples and programs. Since then, the Committee has transitioned to a Standing Committee, tasked with the following responsibilities:

  • Assess and further the School of Dentistry’s progress in recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff and students
  • Develop strategies to improve the School of Dentistry’s cultural climate
  • Improve the quality and quantity of the discussion and education on issues of equity and diversity in the School of Dentistry
  • Serve as a resource on issues of equity and diversity for the School of Dentistry

To communicate your interest in serving on a DEI subcommittee please send a message to [email protected] to receive more information.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in our community

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Video Palooza

The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Teaching and Learning Sub-Committee makes the world a bit smaller by sharing our heritage, customs, and uniqueness with our colleagues. We offer a platform to showcase community members’ background to build understanding and opportunities to expand knowledge and awareness about the various cultures in the School of Dentistry. 

Humans of Moos

This initiative from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Internal Community Building Subcommittee, works to make connections across workspaces and introduces you to parts of your colleagues' lives you may not regularly see. Using the "Humans of New York" model, we strive to build community by highlighting individuals with various lifestyles, cultures and backgrounds. To be featured in an upcoming Humans of Moos, contact Molly Cruitt.

Massimo Costalonga, PhD, DMD
Massimo Costalonga, PhD, DMD

Holiday Humans of Moos - Massimo Costalonga


Diamond - by Aaron Kupcho
Diamond - by Aaron Kupcho

Humans of Moos - Aaron Kupcho


Sven-Ulrik Gorr
Sven-Ulrik Gorr

Sven-Ulrik Gorr


Suhail Kassam and Ishita Aghi
Suhail Kassam and Ishita Aghi

Suhail Kassam, DDS '25 and Ishita Aghi, DDS '23

Affinity Groups

Affinity groups build relationships and connect in small groups for faculty, staff and students within Moos Tower. Email [email protected] to find your Affinity group. 

Asian Faculty Group. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Better Together (student group). Contact Arpun Johal for more information.

Christian Faculty Group. Contact [email protected] for more information.

LGBTQ+ meetup is on the third Thursday of each month, 12:15-100 pm. Join on Zoom at Questions? Contact Elizabeth at [email protected].

Community Conversations

Sponsored by the School of Dentistry’s DEI Committee, community conversations are information conversations faculty, staff and students gather as a community to discuss questions of race, equity and justice. Email Joel Mixon for more information.

Hope Dental Clinic Virtual Experience

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee recently hosted a lunch and learn featuring the Hope Dental Clinic and its partnership with the School of Dentistry.

Hope Dental Clinic Virtual Experience presentation

Hispanic and Latino Dental Student Association

The mission of the Hispanic and Latino Dental Student Association (HLSDA) is to provide a space for non-Latino and non-Hispanic students to learn about this community,  teach basic Spanish to empower providers to better communicate with their Spanish speaking patients,create outreach opportunities for dental students to travel into Latin American immigrant communities in the Twin Cities and provide volunteer services, and find ways to create a pipeline to the School of Dentistry by providing support, education, and encouragement to school-aged Hispanics and Latinos. Learn how to be involved.

The HLSDA recently held a Lunch & Learn on October 29. The HLSDA encourage everyone to seek out media in Spanish, such as movies, music, podcasts or apps like Duolingo. Here is a helpful 50-page document from the National Hispanic Dental Association with general office terms, communication with the receptionist, appointments with the dentist, appointments with the hygienist, expressions for specialties, payment and making appointments, and a large glossary.

Perhaps the most important phase for non-Spanish speaking providers to know aside from simple introductions is how to tell the patient that an interpreter is on the way:

Please wait a moment, we will call an interpreter.

Por favor espere un momento, llamaremos a un intérprete.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Isabella Christianson GalinaSarah Lynn or Jose Gigato Gonzalez.

Women's Dental Association

The University of Minnesota Women's Dental Association (WDA) is here to serve and empower women in our community; educate ourselves on topics including salary and contract negotiation, identify strengths and promote yourself through resumes, work life balance and family planning, workplace harassment, and financial education. We plan to host lunch and learns as well as possible evening events, fundraisers, and weekend outreach events. Learn more & contact us.

Diversity Community of Practice

The Diversity Community of Practice (DCoP) is a grassroots community of faculty and staff from collegiate and administrative units that started on the Twin Cities Campus. All systemwide faculty and staff are invited to join monthly meetings via Zoom. The purpose of the DCoP is to develop and leverage personal, professional, and technical expertise, and to share innovative strategies that ensure successful implementation of equity and diversity goals at the University of Minnesota. Learn more.

Holidays with Care and Inclusivity

Ramadan and the Fasting Dental Patient

Ramadan and the Fasting Dental Patient

What is Ramadan? When is it?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, and for the 2 billion Muslims around
the world, it is considered a holy month.

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, so the dates don’t line up with the Gregorian
calendar. This is why the date of Ramadan moves back by about 11 days every year.

The months in the Islamic calendar begin with sighting of the (crescent) moon on the last
day of the previous month.

Today, some Muslims still go by physical moon sightings, while others refer to
astronomical calculations. Both are acceptable options, and may cause different people
to begin (and end) Ramadan on different days.

After Ramadan, there is a day of celebration called Eid al-Fitr, in which Muslims gather to
pray in the morning, and spend the rest of the day celebrating with loved ones.

What do Muslims do in Ramadan?

From dawn to dusk, Muslims abstain from food and water.

It is a month of spiritual “spring cleaning” - this means increased prayers, acts of charity,
forgiveness, patience, and deep reflection.

Many Muslims attend special night prayers called “tarawih”. These are just like normal
prayers except they are longer.

Do all Muslims fast?

Children, travelers, and those with acute or chronic conditions that prevent them from
fasting are exempt from fasting.

Menstruating, pregnant, and nursing women are also exempt (some pregnant or nursing
Muslims can fast if they are able).

If your patient is not sure if they can fast, or if you have medical concerns as their
provider, encourage them to consult with their healthcare team.

Every patient is different. For example, whether or not a patient with diabetes can fast
will depend on the type of diabetes, the severity, and the treatment they are receiving.

Things to keep in mind with fasting patients, faculty, and students

Fasting people will grow more fatigued and quieter as the day progresses.

Many Muslims spend a portion of the night praying, so meetings later in the day are

If possible, consider postponing lunch/dinner meetings until the month is over.

It’s not considered rude or disrespectful if you happen to be eating or drinking in front of
a fasting person. But fasting colleagues would appreciate the courtesy.

Many patients will postpone elective care until after Ramadan.

Patients who need urgent or emergent care should be encouraged to not postpone
appointments. Most patients understand this and it should not be a problem.

The last 10 nights of Ramadan are considered more holy, with one of these nights being
the holiest nights of the year. It is common for Muslims to take time off during this time to
focus on worship. It is also common for Muslims to take off work on Eid al-Fitr, the celebration the day after

Dental Procedures and Fasting

Local anesthetics do not break the fast.

Dental extractions will not break the fast, but taking pain medications will. Consider
long-acting anesthesia, or referring patients to evening clinics. Patients should control
bleeding with gauze as much as possible to avoid swallowing excess blood.

Adult prophylaxis or scaling and root planning produces a lot of water in the patient's
mouth. Be diligent with the suction and take your time to respect the patients fasting.

Preprocedural rinses will NOT break the patients fast.

Dental impressions do not break the fast. In the case of severe gag reflex, where the
patient vomiting is a strong possibility, consider using salt to lightly coat the tongue prior
to taking the impression. If this isn't enough, consider postponing the appointment.

Bleeding during dental treatments (prophy, SRP, operative, pros procedures, endo)
results in minimal bleeding and will NOT break the fast. A large amount of bleeding
needs to occur to break your fast.

If asked “does brushing my teeth break my fast”, no it doesn’t as long as nothing is

Despite these guidelines, some patients may still feel uncomfortable receiving treatment
during Ramadan. If so, reschedule the appointment until after the month is over (elective