Dominican Unveils Strategic Diversity Five-Year Plan
After a two-year planning process of listening to students, faculty and staff, analyzing institutional data, and meeting with campus constituents focused on difference and equity, Dominican University of California’s Diversity Action Group (DAG) has finalized the University’s five-year Strategic Diversity Plan (SDP).
DAG, a standing committee of faculty, staff, administration, and students, initially presented the plan’s framework to campus in May 2020. The group then expanded both its membership and its involvement in community-building efforts on campus in order to add a cohesive data-driven set of actionable goals to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Dominican.
Work developing “Seven Dimensions of Fostering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Strategic Plan for Dominican University of California, 2020-2025” was led by DAG co-chairs George Faithful, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy; Nnekay FitzClarke, Reference and Instructional Librarian; and Amy Wong, Assistant Professor of English.
“Ultimately we wanted this to be a bottom-up process, with the three of us serving as mediators bringing together different parts of campus rather than working in a vacuum and deciding ourselves the pertinent parts of what the plan should be,” Faithful said. “Reaching across divisions has been powerful in terms of community building.”
The SDP is the latest step of a collaborative process of ensuring that all members of the Dominican community hold each other accountable, he added.
As stated in the plan: “For us to grow into a more just, supportive, and flourishing campus for all will be a process. And like any growth process, it will be uncomfortable, awkward, and perhaps even painful. The process will never be perfect or completely over, but, if undertaken with a sincere commitment to one another, its eventual outcome will be for us as a campus community to be closer, stronger, freer, and more meaningful.”
The SDP highlights seven key dimensions that are essential to the University’s work in creating a diversity-focused institutional environment at Dominican by 2025. These are: community; vocation; structure; training; language; uplifting unheard voices; and celebration.
Within each of the seven dimensions, the plan identifies the 2020 starting point, the 2025 target, and the office or offices responsible for guiding the work.
“By being able to spotlight the work already happening in different departments is both a way to celebrate this work and a way to add accountability to the process as we work toward becoming the best Dominican we can be,” Faithful said.
The plan outlines necessary actions the University must take to increase equity and address existing systemic weaknesses, including enhancing measures for student support, stepping up the recruiting and retention of diverse employees, and making certain our policies hold accountable and reward faculty and staff for diversity work.
Key areas of focus include acknowledging and building on student leadership and advocacy; addressing a campus culture that includes microaggressions and tokenism; better representing underrepresented groups and campus community; improving accessibility to campus facilities and mental health services; and acknowledging challenges related to Dominican’s situatedness within the greater Marin community and the State of California.
Working in partnership with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), DAG will lead the campus community in implementing the plan, ensuring it is aligned with Dominican’s mission and the broader institutional strategic priorities.
DEI Director Stacy Davidson will collaborate with the Vice President for Academic Affairs, DAG, and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness to assess various departments’ progress toward implementing the goals in the strategic plan.
“I have been so impressed and heartened by the commitment of the various campus departments in evaluating their policies and procedures to obtain alignment with the goals of the SDP,” Davidson said. “Through consultation with directors, Deans, and VP’s, I have welcomed the opportunity to engage in meaningful and intentional dialogue to create change at DU.”
As outlined in the SDP, the process of assessment will yield insight for future strategic planning while providing actionable feedback for making Dominican more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive.