ANALYSIS OF THE DIVERSITY ACTION COMMITTEE REPORT (2002) AND THE STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PROVOST FOR DIVERSITY
The 2002 report contained 127 recommendations in the areas of campus climate and environment, retention and recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students, curriculum development, and the retention, recruitment and promotion of faculty and staff. The committee, to the best of their knowledge, and with the review of the 2005 Progress Report, as well as other accomplishments that are documented on websites and other available reports provided to this task force made determinations as to the progress of each recommendation. In keeping with the Provost’s charge to the Task Force, this is one way for us to examine the dynamics of interacting forces that contribute to the University’s current diversity environment, determine the gap between current and desired outcomes, and identify existing enablers of and barriers to diversity.
We also reviewed the draft Strategic Plan of the Office of the (former) Vice Provost for Diversity and mapped the goals and recommendations presented in that report to the rubric of the 2002 report. Note that the 2013 report was focused only on the recruitment, retention, and equity of faculty and staff. Both the 2002 and the 2013 reports clearly outline the need for assessment, evaluation and, accountability.
The following are key points in the evaluation of the recommendations put forth in the 2002 report.
ENVIRONMENT: PHYSICAL, SOCIAL & CULTURAL, EDUCATIONAL, AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Physical – Goal is to build a physical environment of the University that insures the dignity of its members.
- Welcoming spaces, ‘halls and walls of fame’ have been created throughout campus that celebrate our diverse environment.
- Oversight on the ADA compliance has been consistent.
- Transgender issues are being addressed.
- Housing and meal plans are responsive to the diversity on campus.
Social and Cultural – Goal is to create an environment that recognizes and celebrates cultural and social differences.
- Diversity lectures and classroom discussion on diversity is occurring on campus but no formal annual lecture series or specific diversity curriculum has been established.
- Town meetings focused on critical issues and the exchange of ideas should be established as opposed to town meetings only organized as a reaction to an incident.
- Information about diverse programming at the regional campuses should be collected.
Educational – Goal is to encourage and support the continuing interaction of diverse cultures and communities.
- Course curricula on diversity needs further development and assessment.
- Integration of programming and speakers with classroom discussions should be systematic and more co-sponsorship across departments and units encouraged.
- Incentives (grants, fellowships) for research on topics of diversity and multiculturalism should be explored.
- Cultural competency training should be available for faculty and staff.
- Diversity training should be available, if not mandatory (similar to mandated training for faculty and staff) for all student organizations.
Quality of Life – Goal is to promote and foster a climate in which the quality of life is affirming and nurturing for all on campus
- Ensure that mission statements, strategic plans, policies, and practices, speaks to the diversity on campus and the safety for all community members.
- Provide resources and services to address the needs of a diverse student population.
DIVERSITY IN THE CURRICULUM
Goal is to cultivate an understanding of diversity through faculty development; undergraduate and graduate curriculum transformation; and creating faculty incentives for curriculum diversification.
- Creation of undergraduate Gen Ed requirement for 6 credits/2 “D” courses in Diversity and Multiculturalism (since 2005) a positive development; consider expansion of offerings in a range of disciplines, including those outside social sciences and humanities.
- Efforts to infuse diversity into the curriculum at undergraduate and graduate levels have occurred, but further analysis is needed to understand the extent of progress, which fields have excelled and which have lagged in achieving desired outcomes; specific attention to such curriculum development at the graduate level (in a range of programs) should occur.
- “Teaching for Inclusion” training has been envisioned but has yet to be systematically implemented; assess whether or not there are models of such programs either within the University or at other institutions that could be followed.
- Limited “take up” of recommendations to foster departmental/unit level programming on diversity seminar series and other departmental activities to foster knowledge, experience and appreciation for diversity issues; this requires a more systematical action plan that may be best facilitated by department heads/deans and upper administration.
- Funding for initiatives to encourage integration of diversity initiatives at departmental/school/unit level would foster the overarching goal for diversifying the curriculum and faculty development; this includes providing incentives through sabbatical leaves, merit, promotion and reappointment for efforts advancing these goals.
- Whether or not to include in student evaluations the instructor’s ability to foster an inclusive climate should be reexamined (it is not currently included in the revised online evaluations).
RECRUITMENT & RETENTION – STUDENTS
Goal I – Review/enhance efforts to recruit and admit undergraduates from underrepresented populations, including international undergraduate students
- Recommendations that have been met include the rebranding of our institution
Goal II – Create financial incentives for “no need” underrepresented populations.
- There is a lack of institutional financial support for students as a result of increased tuition etc.
Goal III – Review the effectiveness of current retention strategies for underrepresented populations. Create and enhance successful initiatives.
- There is work being made on individual levels with different departments and organizations on campus, there is a greater need for the institutional support as a whole to enhance initiatives that promote diversity.
Goal IV – Provide student support activities and services to facilitate an environment for success.
- Most of the recommendations are in progress.
Goal V – Secure funding and assure support for retention related activities for underrepresented populations.
- These recommendations have not been met as of yet.
PROFESSIONAL RECRUITMENT & RETENTION
Goal is to cultivate the diversity of faculty, staff and administrators through the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups (in terms of race, gender, disability, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation).
- Require unit administrators to develop and implement plans supporting diversity initiatives in hiring (external and internal) and promotion and hold them accountable.
- Cultivate a grow-your-own faculty program through the UConn graduate student pipeline.
- Seek out and nurture relationships with aspirant universities (with regard to diversity), historically black and women institutions, community partners, international organizations and other non-traditional groups, supporting recruitment, exchange programs, visiting scholar programs, etc.
- Fund diversity advancement, reward diversity in action and enhance equity–outstanding mentor awards, PTR recognition, merit recognition, salary reviews/equity adjustments, annual diversity awards, diversity grants program, leadership and career training for women faculty and professional staff, etc.
- Educate on diversity issues.