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Inception of the Odehmenan Health Equity Center

Members of the UIC community on the West (Health Sciences) campus and UI Health have been advocating for a physical space on campus that can be multipurpose, within walking distance, offer programming during times that most students are available and, above all, be a space where they can gather, connect and engage with programming at the intersection of diversity and health. Multiple units across campus, consisting of students, faculty and staff, came together to make this space a reality.

To properly establish this space for the UIC Health Sciences and UI Health community, it was imperative that we move forward with intention, creativity and innovation. This meant creating a space that addressed various community needs:

Need #1: A center, located in a neutral building that is intentionally not located within any one school or program, that provides safety and comfort to all students.

Need #2: A center that partners with UIC’s seven existing Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change to provide programming within the space that focuses on the health of various minoritized and/or marginalized communities.

Need #3: A center that serves as a home base for all students, particularly the newly established Indigenous Graduate Student Association (IGSA), considering the current lack of a Native American and Indigenous students Cultural Center, growing number of Native American and Indigenous students pursuing graduate health degrees, and the dire need to address health inequities in Native American and Indigenous populations.

Need #4: A center located on UIC’s West campus that cultivates an environment of belonging and trust for health professionals that are underrepresented and to facilitate action in pursuit of health equity.

The naming of the Odehmenan Health Equity Center (Odeh Center) follows UIC’s “Acknowledge” is a Verb initiative where we hope to move past just words and into action. The proposed title will honor in words and in actions UIC’s commitment to increase awareness of Native American and Indigenous people and encourage our campus community to build supportive relationships with Native American communities and peoples, both on and off campus. We engaged in conversation with internal and external students, faculty, staff, administrators and Native community members, conducted research and sought out guidance from a Potawatomi language expert and consultant to ultimately decide on a potential name for this new Center.

Coming Soon: Center Timeline Heading link

Please check back for a timeline of the inception, development and naming of the Odeh Center.

Learn More: The Meaning of "Odehmenan"