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Diverity, Inclusion Action Steps Progress

March 29, 2016

Faculty, students, and staff:

“Stop considering, planning, and evaluating the situation.  Start Doing.”

In late January we outlined 45 initial action steps to address diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Kansas and asked what you thought of them.  You spoke and we heard.    

Work is happening right now.    

  • The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group is meeting weekly.  Their charge is to deliver to me a list of recommendations based upon information they have gathered from discussions and talks with others across campus. 
  • A workgroup has implemented strategies to improve retention of first-generation and low-income students, and students of color. 
  • The Center for Teaching Excellence compiled and shared resources for inclusive teaching, and more. 

We’ve made progress on several of our action items, and more items on the list are being addressed right now.    

Building Awareness, Increasing Visibility

Your feedback has been helpful.  There were items you said we could improve and accelerate, and there were areas you reminded us to be as inclusive as possible in our interpretation and implementation. 

The Office for Diversity and Equity has taken the lead on many items, coordinating people and activities to ensure our action items deliver the greatest impact. 

This month, the office, in conjunction with Human Resource Management, held two sessions of the annual faculty and staff Cultural Competency Conference that together drew 500 participants.  Diversity and Equity also will host the Fifth Annual Diversity Symposium in April.  Leaders from the Lawrence and Edwards campuses will come prepared to develop a diversity framework for KU and flesh out their unit-specific action strategies.  The diversity education and training workgroup, led by Vice Provost Nate Thomas, has started to apply a structure and strategy to assess, implement, track, and evaluate campus-wide diversity training among faculty, staff, and students.

The Faculty Development Office this semester is leading several initiatives focused on recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty.  Effective programs often build diverse recruitment networks before a search begins and successfully retain their faculty through effective mentoring programs.  The office held a workshop, attended by a number of department chairs and associate deans, to review models of successful recruitment strategies.  Another high-level workshop in April will focus on best practices in mentoring.  The office also secured a membership in The Registry, a national database that can promote KU faculty openings among potential candidates from diverse backgrounds. 

These steps are only the beginning of a shift in our culture. 

Becoming the Solution

KU faculty, staff, and students independently provided additional influence on diversity and inclusion this semester as well.  KU hosted a well-received Big XII Black Student Government Conference in February.  More than 500 students from the Big XII and regional institutions took part in a wide variety of activities including 35 workshops and an extensive career fair.  Earlier this month, the Department of American Studies coordinated Battleground Midwest, the Mid-America American Studies Association 2016 Conference.  Interest in the conference was so strong organizers extended the length of the event.  

On occasion I hear from individuals who can’t see the value of these efforts, but I can.  The experience on campus is not the same for everyone.  We need to do what we can to make it equitable.  KU is committed to providing an environment where all are respected and that removes barriers and fosters success — not just for some, but for everyone.   To strive for less would be to fail in our mission.

Our action items are a living document that grows and evolves as we go along.  Our efforts require all of us to weigh in and take part. 

News and Notes

  • The KU Powwow and Indigenous Dance and Cultural Festival begins at noon, Saturday, April 2, at the Lied Center.  Much more than an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous dance, the free event offers cultural arts workshops and opportunities to interact with and learn from native peoples.  It’s presented by the KU First Nations Student Association in partnership with a number of KU offices and the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum.
  • The Office of Event Management and Protocol recently launched a new youth programs website.  The site is a one-stop shop for important policies, best practices information, and appropriate forms for KU faculty and staff planning or leading youth programs or camps for minors.  The guidelines and resources help ensure the safety and well-being of future Jayhawks.
  • The Undergraduate Research Symposium will be the afternoon and evening of April 23 at the Kansas Union.  The annual event features oral presentations, talks and performances, poster presentations, and displays of creative work.  Hundreds of KU students contribute to the symposium to showcase their research projects.  It is open to the public.
  • The deadline to apply for a handful of sexuality and gender diversity scholarships available through the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity is April 29. 
  • Join me in welcoming Catherine Johnson to KU.  She began as the director of the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility in January.  The office recently launched its Accessible KU website, which offers a variety of resources and information for students, faculty, staff and visitors.
  • Thank you to the individuals who took part in the small group discussions with Rankin and Associates to help prepare for the KU Climate Study.  Your collective voices, ideas, and concerns are shaping a strong questionnaire to assess the living, learning, and working environment for all our campuses.  Everyone at KU will be invited and encouraged to take the confidential survey early next fall.
  • The 2016 SEARCH Symposium (Scientists Exploring non-Academic caReer CHoices) will be Saturday, April 2.  This all-day event, organized by graduate students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Biology, features Dr. Meredith Drosback of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Thank you to the students who put so much effort into this important career development event. 
  • The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies is coordinating a number of talks, film screenings and receptions in the region that explore Latino American History in April. 
  • Upcoming presentations in the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series include:
    • David Farber, Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of History, will present “The Uneasy State of American Conservatism: A Brief History” at 5:30 p.m., April 11, in the Summerfield Room of the Adams Alumni Center.
    • Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will offer “The Challenge of Building a National Museum” at 6 p.m. April 13 in The Commons of Spooner Hall.  This new museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will open this year.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Best wishes,

Sara T. Rosen

Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

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