Framework Developed For New Diversity and Inclusion Plan

The Diversity Action Group (DAG), a standing committee of faculty, staff, administration, and students, has developed the framework of Dominican’s new Diversity and Inclusion Plan. DAG’s work underscores the active and ongoing efforts by dedicated faculty, staff, and students toward creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

The goal of the plan, which will be finalized this fall, is to create a diversity sensitive institutional environment at Dominican. The plan will detail necessary actions the University must take, including developing measures for student support, recruiting and retaining diverse employees, and institutionalizing new systems to hold accountable and reward faculty and staff for diversity work.

This fall, a soon-to-be appointed Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will join with DAG to lead the campus community in implementing the plan, ensuring it is aligned with Dominican’s mission and the broader institutional strategic priorities. This new position was developed in association with DAG to support the student experience in three primary areas: programming, education, and advocacy, says Vice President of Academic Affairs Nicola Pitchford.

“Dominican is a really diverse community, and we need to focus continually on how we can be the kind of university best suited to serving, supporting, and amplifying the voices of our diverse students. A priority of this student-facing leadership position is to build our capacity to provide that support,” Pitchford says.

The Director also will propose policies to increase equity and address existing systemic weaknesses and will serve as a resource for students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni about issues relating to diversity and equity.

“Everyone on this campus is responsible for creating a just and inclusive environment; but supplementing DAG’s work with this new role will increase what we can provide in terms of advocacy, leadership focus, and expertise,” Pitchford says.

This past year, DAG grew both its membership and its involvement in community building efforts on campus, such as facilitating professional development workshops for faculty and staff and hosting campus conversations with students. The work has been led by co-chairs George Faithful, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy; Nnekay FitzClarke, Reference and Instructional Librarian; and Amy Wong, Assistant Professor of English.

Recent accomplishments include:

  •  Creation of a resource repository to house diversity materials that will be made available to the community as a whole. This will serve as a resource for students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni about issues relating to diversity and equity.
  • Renewing the University’s Diversity Declaration. This declaration will guide the University’s work to increase effectiveness, outreach, and communication across campus.
  • Developing inclusive hiring protocols in order to increase equity on campus. A pilot project in the School of Liberal Arts and Education, for example, resulted in the hiring of the most diverse entering tenure-track faculty in the past 10 years.
  • Strengthening the relationship between faculty, staff, and student leadership. The Student Diversity Advocacy Committee (SDAC) representative on the Associated Students of Dominican University (ASDU) now has a seat on DAG.
  • Administering a campus climate survey and reaching out to campus groups to gather data in regards to diversity. The survey was followed by meetings with University leadership and students to discuss results and plan for next steps. The results from this survey will be used to plan, execute, and assess programs and initiatives designed to support underrepresented students and to build co-curricular learning regarding diversity and equity.
  • Hosting two professional development workshops: one on mental health and intersectionality and the other on racial reconciliation.
  • Hosting a DAG Kickback event that brought students, staff, and faculty together in order to start combining narrative sources with numerical data from the campus climate survey.

“As we start the 2020-2021 academic year, DAG will continue its wide-ranging plan of outreach, data analysis, and conversations with as many campus constituents as possible about their knowledge and experiences regarding difference and equity on campus, in order to make sure we have a strong and actionable Diversity and Inclusion Plan,” Pitchford says.

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