DEI Advisory Group Updates

January 11, 2023

The council met and reviewed findings from the past climate study, provided updates about what progress had been made, and offered recommendations on how to move forward. With the addition of Equity Advisors in 2021/2022, the charge of the Advisory Council has shifted somewhat. In 2022, they provided suggestions to Vice Provost Nicole Hodges Persley, which lead to FY23 financial commitments to several units (see Funding Snapshots) and the piloting of a collaborative program with the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences to support recruitment efforts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority serving institutions. In 2022/2023, the council has provided feedback on the campus RISE/DEIB education and resource portal, which is in progress. The advisory council (and equity advisors) will provide feedback on the portal when a pilot version is ready later this spring.

April 11, 2017

DEI 2017 Final Report

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group Report
Submitted to: Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Provost Neeli Bendapudi

During the 2016-2017 academic year the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group (“DEI Advisory Group”) focused on tracking the progress of, and holding our campus accountable to, the recommendations of the Report of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group issued on April 27, 2016. This report provides an update to the 2016 DEI Report.

February 1, 2017

A Message from the Advisory Group

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup Statement

The administration of the University of Kansas responded in a timely and meaningful way with statements asserting the values of our community in response to current political actions. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup appreciates and echoes the recent statements from Chancellor Gray-Littleand Provost Bendapudi regarding President’s Executive Order on immigration. These statements from our University leaders not only reaffirm the core values of our institution, but also reinforce our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within our community.

November 17, 2016

DEI Statement on Recruitment

Equity and Diversity are a Part of Excellence in Recruitment Efforts
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup Statement

The Office of Admissions works hard to ensure potential students submit their applications by the priority and scholarship deadline of November 1st. As part of our continued efforts to highlight timely and action oriented requests (see last month’s statement regarding recent protests and institutional change), the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group has specific calls to action for implementing the goals of the 2016 DEI report.

First, we require Enrollment Management and the Office of Admissions to move away from a deficit centered discussion of multicultural recruitment. We have frequently heard that we must choose between excellence and equity in recruitment efforts. We reject that notion, and argue that this type of thinking limits our ability to effectively recruit the best and the brightest for KU. In order to move in that direction we ask the Office of Admissions to actively work to reduce the gap in applications to University Honors Program (UHP) between high achieving white students and high achieving students of color. When recruiting students of color these potential students should be actively encouraged to apply for the full range of opportunities at KU, including UHP.

Second, conduct more inclusive outreach when engaging potential students. We recognize the hard work of admissions officers and their time spent away from campus recruiting. However, many of the recruitment efforts away from campus focus on high income areas and less accessible spaces. In addition to recruitment events at hotel ballrooms or country clubs, students and families new to KU may find events more accessible at community centers or local high schools. The Office of Admissions should also actively engage communities where they live, work, and congregate including, but not limited to, reservations, community events, and military on Forts and Bases.
Additionally, the University must ensure accessibility for potential students and their families by providing information on recruitment and admissions materials including websites in languages beyond English. The University of Kansas needs to actively recruit undocumented students and provide a clear online resource guide on how to apply as an undocumented student, as well as how to locate funding for KU. As an institution we must consider how we allocate scholarship and financial aid funding with a goal of inclusivity.

Third, personally engage potential students of color, first generation college students, and veterans. In a time of increased social media and digital outreach, nothing stands out like a personal connection. Much of this used to be done by bringing students to campus. This year KU stopped providing busses to students for identity specific leadership summits on campus during the fall semester. KU must reinstate busses to areas outside of Lawrence to bring multicultural students to recruitment events.

Finally, recognize that there are allies in many places on campus, but inclusive recruitment is the work of the admissions office. Recruitment of veterans should not be focused in the Office of Military Programs, rather, they should be a partner in an active recruitment strategy from the Office of Admissions. Recruitment of students of color is not the responsibility of the Office of Multicultural Affairs or the Multicultural Scholars Programs, though they are partners in these efforts. Recruitment of LGBTQIA students is not the responsibility of the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, though they are partners in these efforts. The Office of Admissions should not see diversity and equity as a potential hindrance to excellence, but a key part of it.

November 17, 2016

DEI Statement: Community on our Campus

Campuses and communities across the country are experiencing increases in harassment and hatred both implicit and explicit in the wake of our recent election. Every student, staff, and faculty member at KU deserves not only safety, but a sense of belonging on our campus. We urge leaders at KU to be more explicit in their condemnation of harassment and acts of discrimination. We echo the statements released by Student Senate and Provost Bendapudi’s remarks on social media encouraging individuals who experience or witness discrimination, harassment, or violence in any form to report it as soon as possible to KU Public Safety Office ( or 785-864-5900) or the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access ( or 785-864-6414).

October 7, 2016

Provost's Response to the 10/3/16 DEI Advisory Group Statement

From: Neeli Bendapudi, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Sent: Friday, October 7, 2016
To: DEI Advisory Group


The DEI Advisory Group was constituted with the express mission to examine instances of discrimination, intolerance, and insensitivity on KU’s campus and to recommend specific actions that can be taken to create an environment where everyone is valued and safe.  I want to express my sincere thanks to the DEI Advisory Group for their October 3rd statement that brought forward specific action steps the university can take to be more inclusive.

When I reconvened this advisory group, I told them that the very best we can do is to be honest with each other — always.  There are some things we cannot do, some things we can do, but not right away, and others that can be done immediately.  Earlier this week, I had a productive meeting with the co-chairs of the DEI Advisory Group about their statement and specific immediate requests of the university.  The group addressed three specific items in their statement: recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day, equal enforcement of the posting policy, and staff engagement in the marketplace of ideas.

1.   Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day
There has been a surge of support this week urging KU to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  The First Nations Student Association (FNSA), Student Senate, the DEI Advisory Group, the various diverse Faculty/Staff Councils, the Office of Diversity & Equity and others have called for the university to recognize this important day.

The chancellor has also committed to recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day in the following ways:

  • KU will recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day on the university calendar;
  • KU included a story on Indigenous Peoples' Day in KUToday, pointing out observances and celebrations occurring in the Lawrence community; and,
  • the chancellor has recommended that the university community consider the development of more structured activities to further engage the KU community in indigenous heritage for next year’s Indigenous Peoples' Day.

The University of Kansas is proud of the rich and dynamic impact of the indigenous heritage on our academic community.  Through our people and our partnerships, we are seeking ways to ensure our connection to indigenous communities stays strong and vibrant.

We have a longstanding and ever-growing partnership with Haskell Indian Nations University.  I recently met with Haskell President Dr. Venida Chenault to discuss how we can enhance the partnership between our two institutions.  Since this meeting, we have already initiated conversations between our housing departments to share knowledge and training opportunities for mutual benefit.  Some of our students, so often the drivers of great change at our university, met with me not too long ago.  Representatives from the First Nations Student Association (FNSA) and the Lied Center shared their need for more support for the annual KU Powwow & Indigenous Dance and Culture Festival.  I’ve committed to them that we will do our part to ensure this incredible event continues to be a significant part of the KU community.  My office is currently in the process of scheduling time to meet with the chairmen and chairwoman of the Four Resident Tribes of Kansas: The Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas, Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, and Sac and Fox Nation.  Through these conversations, I hope to gain a better understanding of what we can do to create stronger pipelines of Native students into the university.

2.   Equal Enforcement of the Posting Policy
The university policy on the posting of materials and on public assembly has guided many of our conversations over the past week.  As university administration, we must do our part to enforce our policies, but we also must be sensitive to and aware of the larger dynamics at play on our campus, in our community, and in our nation.  I will admit that last week, we learned some lessons that we will carry forward with us.  Public Safety Officers will not be called upon to help remove postings throughout campus.  Facilities Services staff have been asked to more regularly sweep campus and remove any and all postings that are in unapproved locations.  We are asking Facilities staff and others throughout the university to not simply remove postings, but to then relocate them to an approved bulletin board whenever possible.  We want to make sure we adhere to our policies while at the same time respecting our community members’ right to self-expression.

3.   Staff Engagement in the Marketplace of Ideas
To every life situation, each of us tries to bring the fullness of our experiences.  I often say, you can’t write a rulebook to cover every contingency.  Because of that, we must work with our leaders to see the value of encouraging their teams to be active and involved participants in the university community.  There were different philosophies regarding participation in the protests last week and that will probably always be the case.  In my office, I was joined by a number of my staff members that spent anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour standing in solidarity with members of our community.  I will commit to you that in our next leadership meeting, the deans, vice provosts and I will address this issue and examine ways for our teams to fully engage in the marketplace of ideas.  Please know, though, that engagement may still look different for each office.

Again, I want to thank the DEI Advisory Group for your leadership and service.  I know that this response will not be enough for some who read it.  As I said, the only thing I can promise is honesty and I will always hold true to that.  Whether you see it on a daily basis or not, I can promise you that the university is shifting.  The focus we are placing on ensuring a diverse, equitable, and inclusive KU for all students, staff, and faculty will be abiding and unrelenting.  For that, we have many to thank and many to honor.  Our university is only as strong as our people, and thankfully, we have incredible people.

Rock Chalk!


Neeli Bendapudi, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
University of Kansas

October 3, 2016

DEI Statement on Recent Protests and Institutional Change

Numerous offices have put out statements in support of students, staff, and faculty working to make KU more inclusive. We would like to add our voice to the conversation. Black lives matter. Trans lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. We support our community using their voices and silence to push conversations around systemic inequalities and oppression, such as the silent Stand with Me Protest on Tuesday and the Standing Rock Protest on Friday.

Statements like this are not enough. Explicit action is necessary. Our Committee is tasked to serve as advocates for accountability, pushing the University to live up to the challenges our Report laid out, and taking every opportunity to make systemic and institutional change to better our community (the full report can be read here:

We require the Provost’s office create and communicate a policy that allows staff members in all units across campus to be compensated for their participation in activities and professional development related to the work of diversity, equity and inclusion, broadly speaking. For example, during last week’s Stand with Me protest, some offices allowed staff members to participate with pay while others obstructed participation by requiring staff who attended to use paid time off. Additionally, some offices forbid their staff members from wearing university name tags. If we are to encourage a community to participate in the “marketplace of ideas” we must consider how this factors into their compensated work time.

We are equally concerned about the differential enforcement of the posting policy. The University ordered the removal of Black Lives Matter posters using a non-standard and more extreme process than has been used in the past. University Public Safety Officers were deployed to Wescoe to remove posters. The use of KU Public Safety Officers implies that Black Lives Matter is a threat to safety on campus. This is unacceptable. In other places, posters were removed from places where other posters were allowed to remain. We require consistency and transparency in how the posting policy will be implemented in the future.

Further, in accordance with the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and as specified in the DEI report from last year, we require the University recognize this coming Monday (10/10) as Indigenous People’s Day. This requirement is only a start to move forward on the recommendations laid out last year, including strengthening the relationship with Haskell Indian Nations University and enhancing KU’s commitment to Indigenous Studies and our Indigenous and First Nations communities at the University.

Over the course of the year we will select specific challenges laid out in the Report to champion and focus administrative attention on by calling for accountability and working as resources in reform efforts. You can expect to see updates here:

2016-2017 DEI Committee

September 12, 2016

Provost Bendapudi's response to the 2015-2016 DEI Advisory Group Report

Achieving More: A Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive KU
From: Neeli Bendapudi, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Sent: Monday, September 12, 2016
To: KU Lawrence and Edwards Staff, Faculty and Affiliates; KU Lawrence and Edwards Students


Some of you may have heard me talk about the Crimson and Blue ties that bind generations of Jayhawks, weaving a rich tapestry across time and space.  Today, I ask you to think back to the ‘Jayhawkers,’ ardent abolitionists from the late 19th century, whose legacy is memorialized in our mascot, and whose ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity, and justice must animate our current discourse.  

These ideals vis-à-vis the realities that confront our many Jayhawk communities were the subject of much open conversation and thoughtful consideration by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Group, co-chaired by Drs. Clarence Lang and Sheahon Zenger, and reflected in the DEI report submitted to the Chancellor and the Provost. Because I was a member of that committee, I asked Interim Vice Provost Stuart Day, and a distinguished group of colleagues to review the DEI report, identify progress we have made as an institution, and more importantly, identify gaps and additional recommendations for my office to consider. Their analysis served as the foundation of my response. I am thankful to them and to the members of the DEI committee for graciously taking on this important responsibility.

I want us to approach diversity work and diversity leadership on this campus by asking ourselves two questions. First, what would we need to do to make our unit, area, program a national leader? You cannot think in this way without proactively addressing issues of diversity and equity. Second, what can we do to make an impact with what we have? We are in tight budget times, but that is not an excuse for inaction. We must find ways to improve our climate and make our campus more inclusive with existing resources. All of your ideas in answer to these questions are truly welcome. It will take our entire community’s efforts to see real change happen. So what do we know about how we are doing? The short answer: we have made significant strides but we are still not doing as well as we could or should be. The long-term solution? We must work together intentionally, intensely, and tenaciously.

“Hail to thee, our Alma Mater…” It is a good bet that every student on our campus sings these words, but it is also a good bet that not every one of them experiences KU as the Alma Mater (translated from Latin as Nurturing Mother). If one student experiences systemic oppression or feels unwelcome or not included, that is one too many. Whether you agree or disagree with their tactics, it is in large part due to the activism of our students and Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk that this conversation has taken such prominence on our campus.

As a public institution, we must be responsive to and reflective of the full breadth of our society. This requires us to build and sustain strong student pipelines into KU from minority-serving institutions (MSIs), particularly those in our immediate community and region. In the coming year, we will be working with MSIs beyond our region to explore the possibility of partnership. Multiple offices are working hard to ensure diverse students come to and excel at KU. The Office of Academic Affairs is reviewing our memorandum of agreement with Haskell Indian Nations University to build stronger linkages and build or strengthen connections with KCK public schools and community colleges. The Office of Admissions is assessing how we recruit high-achieving diverse students.

We know that finding funding for college continues to be an area of great confusion and hardship. The Offices of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid and Scholarships, with support from our donors through KU Endowment, is setting up a new Student Experience Management System to streamline scholarship processes and enhance user experience. Additionally, for two years now, new first-year students have received a personalized overview of all aspects of aid including their estimated cost based on their aid package. I have asked the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to work with academic units to simplify and clarify the aid notification packages for all students.

No matter how strong our aid package, students often face unexpected financial pressures. To help students stay at KU instead of dropping out due to financial emergencies, the chancellor is working with KU Endowment to develop hardship funds for low socioeconomic status students. The Office of Graduate Studies started to prioritize diversity in graduate student fellowships in 2015. Currently, 50% of all University Graduate Fellowships go to diverse candidates. At the undergraduate level, the chancellor and I, in partnership with the deans, are working to increase scholarship and fellowship funds for underrepresented students.

Once a student comes to KU, it is in the best interest of all parties to help them graduate on-time. We know that both the in-classroom and out-of-classroom experience matter in retention. With additional funding, new leadership, and expanded collaboration with faculty, the Office of Undergraduate Studies is poised to positively impact our student retention numbers. They are working on a number of targeted interventions that, over time, will impact retention. This fall, for the first time ever, free tutoring will be provided to all incoming Pell-eligible students to provide extra support for their success. We will be increasing success coaching, following models most common in university athletics, to ensure that students that need a little extra support get that to help them towards attaining their degree. We will increase undergraduate research through the Emerging Scholars Program that will both pay work-study students to engage in research and pair these students with our university’s finest researchers. We know from the impact of programs at our peer institutions that early engagement in research can yield marked positive gains in retention.

The classroom experience must also represent a diverse range of students and their experiences. To do this, the Office of Academic Affairs is convening a small workgroup to find ways of incorporating social justice, inclusion, and equity throughout the KU Core curriculum. Additionally, the University Honors Program has been auditing itself and soliciting the input of external voices to inform their equity and inclusion initiatives as they work to ensure they have a diverse population recruited to and represented in the program. In addition to driving change centrally, it is vital that leadership actively supports the initiatives from individual units. Whether the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Diversity Plan or the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Diversity Plan, there is palpable energy around making our university a truly inclusive and welcoming space. I am particularly gratified to see the attention and focus on integrating our international students more fully into the Jayhawk experience. Some significant efforts in this regard include our decision to appoint an international student to the Tuition Advisory Committee, and the charge I have given the Office of First Year Experience and the Office of International Programs to collaborate on making sure domestic and international students have more intentionally planned opportunities for community building and shared learning during orientation and Hawk Week. I have also charged the Office of International Programs to build on creative efforts such as the Global Partners Program which ensure our domestic students get the full benefit of the rich learning experiences associated with being a part of a truly global community. When you come to KU, the world comes to you.

For generations, one of the most significant assets of our university has been the commitment we make to our people and, in return, the commitment we make to the institution. KU is special, but we cannot and must not rest on our laurels. Every great institution needs constant care and vigilance to remain so. Higher education institutions have a particular responsibility to foster debate and discussion by incorporating a plurality of perspectives and life experiences.

With this in mind, we have to be particularly cognizant of our hiring practices and how they impact the creation of a more diverse academic community. For the first time this year, we allocated $25,000 within Human Resources to increase our pools of diverse candidates by targeting higher impact recruiting lists and subscription sites. I’ve asked Human Resources to convene a group of internal and external thought leaders to discuss best practices in recruiting, retaining, and developing a diverse workforce. For our faculty, the Office of Faculty Development offered the Recruiting Strategies that Promote Faculty Diversity workshop in March 2016 for chairs, associate deans, and deans and secured membership in The Registry, a national database of diverse faculty candidates and positions open at major universities. In the coming academic year, this office will lead a collaborative effort with deans, associate deans, department chairs, and faculty members to develop and adopt unit-specific, proactive recruitment plans designed to enhance the pipeline for future faculty searches.

I have already begun and will continue to engage each dean and vice provost in our one-on-one meetings about diversity hiring and retention goals in their respective units. Further, I have asked the Office of Institutional Research and Planning to prepare a new report to disaggregate our faculty diversity numbers to more fully reflect the current state and inform where we can grow. This information will be available to all members of the KU community through the Visual Analytics platform. The Office of Faculty Development has partnered with two talented faculty fellows to offer a robust mentoring program that will be rolled out and assessed over the coming year. Beyond this mentoring programming, the university has entered into an agreement with the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD), a program that provides faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and graduate students with helpful development resources.

I believe that intentionally supporting and prioritizing diverse communities is a major solution to many of the problems we face. To that end, I will match funding provided by the Office of Diversity & Equity to financially support the diverse faculty and staff councils (Asian and Asian-American Faculty Staff Council, Black Faculty and Staff Council, Latino Faculty and Staff Council, Native Faculty and Staff Council and the Sexuality and Gender Diversity Consortium). While the amount will not be large, I hope the funds will be used by the leaders of these respective organizations to more deliberately build community and a sense of belonging for all of our incredible Jayhawks. To show commitment to these groups, Chancellor Gray-Little and I will host an annual meeting in the spring for the combined councils.

Our LGBTQIA+ community, particularly at its intersection with race, faces particular challenges on our campus that often go unheard. We must do better in this regard. There are simple things we can do that can go a long way to saying “I see you” to our LGBTQIA+ colleagues. While the KU Design and Construction Standards have required a shared, single-person, gender-neutral restroom in all new construction since October 2015, there are numerous barriers associated with retrofitting older facilities with this inclusive option. This is the right thing to do and we must work with expedience to see it happen. To this end, I’ve asked the Office of Administration and Finance to develop a plan to double our gender-neutral restrooms in the next two years. Again, these are small steps, but ones that we must take.

While the challenges of fostering diversity may seem daunting, the truth is we have incredible expertise and dedication to diversity amongst our own ranks. It is important that we listen to the expertise in our midst before we rush to bring in outside help. That said, when our internal experts are bombarded with requests for help, coaching, training, etc., we must acknowledge the burdens we are placing on them. The work these dedicated professionals do is valuable, difficult, and critical and is epitomized in the work of the talented staff of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and others across our campus. So please express your gratitude to them. For my part, I will work with our campus leadership to explore ways we can recognize and compensate our units and individuals that are bearing an increased load to educate our campus around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

There are many practical solutions and actions mentioned throughout this letter. However, those items alone will not get us to our goal of making KU a truly inclusive academic community. We cannot rely solely on problematic deficit-based approaches that suggest that diverse students, staff, and faculty must do even more to realize equal levels of success as their majority peers. We are all a part of the problem and have the potential to be a part of the solution. Our campus culture must shift. We must work to diversify our circles of influence and relationships and strive to educate ourselves about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This education can come in formal settings, through trainings and courses offered on-campus, online, and elsewhere, but it can also happen in informal ways. I would encourage each of you to find a diverse network to dialogue with about diversity, equity, and inclusion. I’ve found in my own growth that these conversations have been the most helpful and allow you to amplify and extend any of your formal learning experiences.

Regardless of what you read here, please know I do not believe this is the end of this conversation. This is the beginning. I have reconstituted the DEI advisory group for another year to continue to push us to be better and to do more. I have full faith in their leadership and ability to do this. The new membership of the DEI committee can be found here. A special thank you to Drs. Lisa Wolf-Wendel and Shannon Portillo for agreeing to serve as this year’s co-chairs.

My experience serving on the DEI advisory group last year was eye-opening and life-changing in my view of myself and my beloved Alma Mater, KU. Having always thought of myself as an individual and a leader committed to fostering an inclusive environment, it was at once humbling, disconcerting, and motivating to realize that I was not where I needed to be to be most effective in my leadership. Similarly, I felt upset, defensive, and protective when I realized that my personal idyllic, storybook experience of KU was not shared by all. There is significant self-work I must do to be more awake to the realities of all individuals on our campus. It is all too easy to believe that our individual experience is representative of all. It is hard, but incredibly rewarding work to break that cycle of applying one’s single narrative to our understanding of the world. And each of us at KU must also do our parts to make sure we are living up to the high ideals of our founders. I count on your goodwill, dedication, expertise, and hard work to ensure we all leave KU better for our being here. We must do more, and we must be more. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

Rock Chalk!


Neeli Bendapudi
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
University of Kansas

April 27, 2016

2015-2016 DEI Advisory Group Report

Report of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group
Submitted to: Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Interim Provost Sara Rosen