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Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board releases DIAP recommendations

Board proposes further data collection, hiring with emphasis on commitment to diversity

The University’s Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board — a group composed of faculty, staff and students charged with assessing progress toward goals laid out in the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan — released its annual recommendations May 4. The board recommended collecting a wider range of data on hiring and staff retention as well as ensuring new administrators are actively curious and passionate about improving diversity and responding to anti-Black and anti-Asian violence. 

The University released Phase II of the DIAP in April, which aims to build upon its progress in improving institutional diversity with new goals in areas including People, Academic Excellence, Curriculum, Community, Knowledge and Accountability, The Herald previously reported

Recommendation process 

The DIOB is composed of three non-voting members from the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and appointed staff, faculty and students who represent a range of community identities, DIOB co-chair and Professor of Africana Studies and American Studies Matthew Guterl wrote in an email to The Herald. The board attends meetings with upper members of administration to ask “questions about new and emerging areas of interest or concern,” Guterl added. 

These meetings are followed by further conversations to discuss areas of interest, and the appointed members of DIOB meet to make considerations. Only the appointed members of DIOB play a role in writing the memo, Guterl added, in order to ensure independence from those who played a role in developing the DIAP. 

In the process of writing its annual memo, DIOB met monthly with Shontay Delalue, former vice president of institutional equity and diversity and co-chair of DIOB, to discuss Phase II of DIAP. The board also met with deans and administrators to gauge progress across the University over the course of several months. 

DIOB’s memo was followed by a May 21 response from President Christina Paxson P’19 and Provost Richard Locke P’18 responding to DIOB’s comments and recommendations. 

DIOB commends University progress, initiatives, passion among administrators

DIOB began its memo by praising the University’s move to Phase II of DIAP, which created new goals based on the University’s progress in Phase I. “We are pleased to see that so much progress has been made, and that such a retooling is necessary,” DIOB wrote.

DIOB was also “pleased” to see the Office of Admissions’ goal to increase the regular decision yield of African American and Black students to 50 percent over the next five years. Acceptances for the Class of 2025 have already indicated that the University’s strategy is working towards achieving this goal, Paxson and Locke wrote in their response. 

The board praised the University’s goal to disaggregate data for race and gender, as well as to begin a working group to establish a plan to collect data for disability, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion while maintaining student confidentiality. 

“We believe that such a working group will resolve some of the challenges of data collection — the asymmetries, the unevenness and the lack of routinization — in our fairly decentralized landscape,” DIOB wrote. 

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and the Office of Institutional Research have convened a group to discuss how to best collect this data, Paxson and Locke wrote. The work may continue into 2022 as the University also looks for a new administrator to fill Delalue’s vacancy. 

The memo lauded DIOB’s meeting with Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin in which members were shown granular department-level data for hiring and retaining faculty from historically underrepresented groups. Departments such as Education have seen “rapid and impressive change” since 2015, DIOB wrote. The memo recommends routinizing this data collection and sharing the results with some members of the faculty and administration. 

In meeting with Dean of the College Rashid Zia ’01, DIOB found that he exhibits a “reflexive hiring process” considering ongoing conversations surrounding diversity and anti-racist training for staff. 

“Our institution today was not designed to serve the students we have,” Zia told DIOB during a meeting, according to the memo, emphasizing the need to work towards diversity in initiatives such as UTRA and SPRINT awards by making the matching process more equitable. 

“After the discovery that some of the initiatives were not built for equity, (Zia’s) office changed the application process for SPRINT/UTRA process to make it easier for students to be matched,” wrote DIOB member Rebecca Qiu ’22 in an email to The Herald. “That was a huge step to help students to feel more included in the broader campus community.”

Dean of the School of Professional Studies Leah VanWey similarly worked to restructure her office to provide new anti-racist training, collect more relevant data and more closely examine old practices. The result is “impressively advancing numbers of HUG staff and new priorities that match our university’s diversity and inclusion ambitions,” DIOB wrote. “We were struck, reflecting back on this meeting, by her transparency and open-mindedness.”

These meetings with deans provided a key takeaway for DIOB: Intellectual curiosity about diversity and inclusion in administrative appointments is important for advancing DIAP goals. “The most thoughtful and constructive engagements with the DIAP have come from those administrators who have a relentless curiosity about what has been done right in their units, what has been done wrong and how it might be done better,” DIOB wrote. 

As such, the ongoing searches to fill higher administrative roles — such as the vice president of institutional equity and diversity, the vice president of human resources, the dean of the School of Medicine and the chief of public safety — should prioritize hiring individuals “who are both passionate and curious, driven to build on the work we’ve completed and relentlessly introspective and questing about what is left to be completed,” DIOB wrote. 

Paxson and Locke committed to follow this advice and “seek leaders who are both committed to and curious about diversity and inclusion,” they wrote.

Forward-looking recommendations

Along with their recommendations for thoughtful and rigorous hiring of administrators, DIOB suggested key considerations for bolstering staff hiring, increasing compositional diversity at the School of Medicine and addressing troubling trends in anti-Black and anti-Asian violence. 

DIOB recommended that McLaughlin’s office should consider if HUG faculty have equitable access to support such as leaves and tenure extensions and how diversification across concentrations and faculty are related.

Additionally, DIOB recommended a focus in Human Resources to collect data about staff retention, promotion and recruitment to match the data collected about faculty hiring in order to mend disparities and inform the conversation around diversity. 

DIOB also wants the University to focus on improving compositional diversity at the School of Medicine, which only saw a 1.1 percent increase in students from groups who are underrepresented in the field of medicine from 2014 to 2020. The new dean of the medical school should realign with the goals of DIAP “with curiosity, transparency, open-mindedness and passion,” the board wrote. “In the age of a pandemic that has spotlighted numerous inequalities, this is a uniquely urgent matter.”

DIOB acknowledged the backdrop they considered while writing this memo: the increase in both anti-Black violence and hate against Asian Americans. DIOB “looks forward to” the recommendations of the Task Force on Anti-Black Racism and encouraged the University to provide an institutional response to anti-Asian violence, such as an analysis of Asian-American underrepresentation in the faculty and student body. 

Though this work will not fall under DIAP’s purview, the action plan’s goals include disaggregating data for Asians and Asian-Americans. Paxson hopes this will allow the University to “create initiatives in recruitment, hiring and building community that will positively impact a variety of groups, including the AAPI community,” she wrote in an email to The Herald. 

“Although the Asian students, faculty and staff don't exactly fit into the HUG category, working towards fostering safety and a sense of belonging remains just as important to the University’s goals of creating an inclusive community,” Qiu wrote. 

Qiu feels the DIOB board did a good job representing the voices of students and other campus communities, and she hopes that the memo will help the University focus on the areas that DIOB highlighted in its analyses. 

“It is important to build greater trust, specifically trust from the broader community that opinions will be heard when voiced,” Qiu wrote. “As students, we want to feel that we are heard by the administration and that the University has the same goals as we do … We see incredible work done by student organizations and it is perhaps needed for the University to continue to work with these students and listen to their voices.”



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