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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Welcome to the School of Medical Sciences Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion!


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) recognizes that dynamic growth and change are required to meet the needs of today’s students. One of LMU’s institutional goals is to provide a caring and nurturing environment where students, faculty, and staff with varied talents, experiences, and aspirations come together to form a diverse community that encourages students to grow intellectually and personally to meet their academic and career goals.​

Here at the School of Medical Sciences (SMS), we believe diversity, equity, and inclusion are the foundation for a better tomorrow for all. SMS is committed to providing equal access to education and employment opportunities in an environment that is safe, civil, respectful, and free from all forms of harassment and discrimination. Our goal is to implement an overall strategic recruitment plan to increase the number of diverse applicants. We aim to establish new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and prioritize recruitment with academically rigorous undergraduate institutions with diverse populations.

As a school of professional health programs, we strive for a community comprised of individuals with respect for varying ideas, strengths, abilities, opinions, experiences, and backgrounds for the goal of promoting innovation and vitality while being unwaveringly committed to professionalism and quality.​

We pledge to train highly educated, culturally sensitive professionals who mirror the diverse population they serve by using school resources to recruit talented, diverse staff and faculty and promoting an all-inclusive environment that embraces diversity and inclusion of all members.

Culture Vision is an online resource providing information to answer specific provider inquiries when providing culturally sensitive medical care. SMS has provided access to all PA students, faculty, and staff working within the PA programs. Please use this link to access the site and provide your username and password to sign in.


LMU Non-Discrimination Policy

LMU-SMS follows the non-discrimination policy set forth by Lincoln Memorial University: Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy


Please use the links below to navigate to a specified section:


Director of Student Success and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Rachel Cole

Tonja Lee, PhD, MS, BA
SMS DEI Director and Committee Chair

Dr. Tonja “Tee” Lee joins Lincoln Memorial University as the new Director of Student Success and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Southern University in New Orleans, a Master of Science in Child and Family Studies, and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Administration with a minor in Women’s/Gender Studies from Miami University. She also completed a Teacher’s Education Certification Program at North Carolina State University.

Throughout her career, Dr. Lee (often referred to as “Dr. Tee”) has taught in a variety of contexts, including K-12, higher education, and various professional development settings. These experiences have expanded her depth of knowledge on curricula development and the science/theoretical processes related to teaching and learning. Her focus remains on imparting evidence-based best practices to coach educators and learners in adopting strategies that systematically enhance academic performance. She has designed programs encompassing curricula design and instruction, study skills, test-taking strategies, and non-academic aspects such as time management, motivation, stress factors, study habits, and behaviors that impact learning.

Dr. Lee also remains steadfast in addressing inequities from macro-level approaches. She has served as a Statewide Policy Director, leading initiatives that addressed healthcare disparities and championed more equitable legislative policies and protocols to improve healthcare outcomes. Her efforts have been instrumental in deconstructing the impact of social determinants of health on communities, particularly for vulnerable, marginalized, and disenfranchised populations. Additionally, Dr. Lee has Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) expertise. She has extensive experience training and developing policies and curricula related to cultural competence, unconscious bias, and leadership development.

Lee enjoys traveling and exploring new cultures. She is also learning to crochet and roller-skate. 


Physician Assistant Programs DEI Chairs

The School of Medical Sciences is committed to addressing, strengthening, maintaining, and safeguarding the success of diversity, equity & inclusion within its Programs. Each Physician Assistant program has established a DEI committee to oversee and ensure the success of the SMS DEI mission. 

Tonya Apperley

Tonya Apperley, DMS, PA-C

Harrogate PA Program 


Sonia Rupani

Sonia Rupani, DMS, PA-C

 Knoxville PA Program 




Calendar of Events: 

January July
February August
March September
April October
May November
June December