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Chancellor's Blog: Creating an equitable, inclusive and diverse campus — An update

| Chancellor James Schmidt

Our university’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusiveness is both a campuswide priority and a challenge to each of us to live up to our highest values as educators, citizens and individuals.

Living our EDI commitment involves everyone, and over the past month I’ve been heartened to see students, faculty and staff creating opportunities to reach out to each other, to talk, to listen, to learn, and yes, to rally in support of change. This is the mark of a community struggling over difficult issues, but willing to work for change.

Over the past year we developed an EDI plan that will help us create a campus that is open, supportive and focused on dismantling racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. This month we took several important steps forward in our continuing EDI efforts.

On Nov. 8, the University Senate unanimously supported the Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Plan and called for the campus community to come together to take action. This vote follows on similar actions taken earlier this fall by the Student Senate and by the University Staff Council, which has already adopted portions of the EDI plan recommendations regarding employee evaluation into its bylaws.

We are already making progress in implementing our plan. We are forming an affirmative action advisory group to ensure greater focus on our campus recruitment and retention efforts for faculty and staff. This week, 25 individuals participated in two days of training to help lead Circles of Change, which will facilitate EDI discussions for community and university members this spring and fall. And the Bias Incident Response Team — BIRT — is being reconfigured under the leadership of Odawa White and Chris Jorgenson to be more responsive to incidents across campus.

I am encouraged by these efforts and by the important support of our shared governance groups for real change on our campus. To that end, I have appointed the EDI Implementation Team for 2016-17, under the joint leadership of Faculty Fellows Jeff Goodman and Melissa Bonstead-Bruns. I also want to thank all those who have completed their service on last year's team, including out-going chairs David Jones and Ann Rupnow. Their thoughtful and dedicated efforts have helped us create a strong plan.

I have asked the EDI Team to make professional development for our faculty, staff and students a priority and to pilot this spring both online and in-person learning opportunities so that we can launch them campuswide by next fall. I have also asked them to work closely with shared governance groups to develop legislation that will support EDI in both student evaluation of instruction and in personnel documents.

Creating an equitable, inclusive and diverse campus takes individual commitment to our values, action when those values are debased, and ongoing, sometimes difficult change. I encourage you to find ways to support our EDI plan.

EDI Implementation Team for 2016-17:

Dennis Beale, Blugold Beginnings/Multicultural Affairs
Melissa Bonstead-Bruns, Sociology
Linda Carlson, Advising, Retention & Career Center
Sanjukta Chaudhuri, McNair Program
Jeff Goodman, Psychology
Mike Huggins, Community Member 
Kia Lee, Admissions
Gerardo Licon, Latin American Studies
Carmen Manning, College of Education & Human Sciences
Nichole Miller, Advising, Retention & Career Center
Robert Nguyen, Student Senate
Michael Penkava, Mathematics
Audrey Robinson, Academic Skills Center
Dale Taylor, Emeritus/Community Member
Jeff Vahlbusch, University Honors Program
Charles Vue, Multicultural Affairs
Odawa White, Multicultural Affairs

Read more Chancellor's Blog posts.