Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, 1:56 p.m.
KU Lawrence All Staff, Faculty and Affiliates All KU Lawrence and Edwards Students

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

As we’ve worked to address our projected Fiscal Year 2022 shortfall, I’ve stressed to senior leaders and in my public messages to you just how important diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are and must remain to the University of Kansas. Our efforts are critical to our marginalized and under-represented students, staff and faculty, as well as to the future of the institution. KU absolutely must be a place where all people feel they belong and have access to resources and support that help them attain their educational and professional goals.

In the latest video in our Essential Information series, I asked four of our senior leaders to join me with updates about the work taking place in their units to broaden and strengthen our efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

Our strategic plan, Jayhawks Rising, incorporates DEIB across our three core institutional priorities of Student Success, Health & Vibrant Communities and Research & Discovery. Our unit leaders and their teams have already started making progress on several initiatives that will serve members of the Jayhawk community. Here’s a preview of a few of the advances and initiatives mentioned by my team:

Faculty Development (beginning at 2:17 on video)

  • Revamp of student evaluations to reduce biases of teaching assessment
  • Developing a university-wide faculty workload policy that sets expectations and offers transparency.
  • Associate Vice Provost Jennifer Ng is continuing her work on inclusive classroom instruction, including one-on-one support.

Student Affairs (beginning at 13:01 on video)

  • Named Kevin Joseph the new interim director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, a move which also gives the assistant vice provost for Student Affairs more time to set unit goals and provide oversight.
  • Over the break, outfitted and resourced a new space for the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity on the fourth floor of the Kansas Union.
  • In partnership with Academic Success and offices in Enrollment Management, launching a program to recruit more under-represented minority students and first-generation students to KU.

Academic Success (beginning at 15:58 on video)

  • Created a team that is designed around the support provided through Hawk Link, the Multicultural Scholars Program and the Haskell Exchange Program and ties in support already being provided for the Adidas Leadership Scholars, KC Scholars and the Hispanic Development Fund Scholars.
  • Creating the Academic Retention and Engagement Center to offer a space to serve these students. It will be in Summerfield Hall near the Academic Advising Center and the Military Affiliated Student Center and will build opportunities to connect and further support students through their educational journeys.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (beginning at 20:47 on video)

  • Conversations are underway with deans to ensure all academic units have an associate dean whose role focuses on furthering DEIB goals and initiatives within that unit.
  • Working with Human Resource Management to have a dedicated associate vice provost position working on advancing DEIB initiatives among staff, and supporting staff from under-represented and marginalized groups.
  • Developing an updated training module on diversity, equity and inclusion that will be mandatory, similar to the training module on identifying, addressing and reporting sexual harassment.

As you’ll see in this video, there’s a lot happening now to advance DEIB support and values at KU. Please take the time to learn more about what is underway by watching this video.

Jayhawks, you’ve been very clear how important these values are to you, and I share your views. We simply must do more to improve retention and success of our students. We simply must improve the workplace environment to attract and retain a diverse workforce. We know there is a lot of work ahead to address all our Jayhawks Rising goals, and I’m excited that we have goals and initiatives directly tied to DEIB goals throughout the plan.

Thank you for your commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at KU and beyond. Thank you for all you do to make the University of Kansas a better place.

Please take care of yourselves as you also care for others.

Respectfully,

Barb

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor