UD reports on progress made toward its Anti-Racism Action Plan

Flyer News reviewed the status of the university’s 11-step plan and highlighted some of the progress made in the last year. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.

Kaitlin Lewis | Online Editor-in-Chief

On August 4, the University of Dayton released a progress report for its “11 Steps Anti-Racism Action Plan.” The letter, which was originally posted in June 2020, includes 11 steps the university is committed to in order to establish a campus community of equity and diversity. Flyer News last reported on a progress report in December 2020.

The following includes an overview of the progress UD has reported to have made over the last year in relation to the 11 steps, as well as notes about the university’s next steps in reaching its goals. The following is not a complete list, but a summary of UD’s notable progress. 

Step 1: Faculty and staff learning and the role we each must play to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at UD

The first step in the university’s letter focuses on professional development plans for staff, faculty and administration “in the areas of intercultural competence and equity-mindedness.” In December 2020, Flyer News reported that UD set a goal to assess the impact of its educational content with select groups of employees by July 2021. The goal was to identify what themes UD’s professional development would be focused around. The five themes that have been determined include:

(1) Catholic, Marianist identity and mission in relation to inclusive excellence and anti-racism. (2) What is culture? What is intercultural competence? How does it relate to justice? Why is this important to UD? (3) What is anti-racism? (4) What is inclusive excellence? (5) The connection among our Catholic & Marianist identity, inclusive excellence, and the goal of becoming an anti-racist institution.

The university says that its next step is to develop online educational modules based around these themes and pilot-test its effectiveness with another select group of employees. The goal is to send the pilot out by the end of 2021, and have the online modules available to all new employees by February 2022. 

Step 2: Student learning through curricular and co-curricular vehicles 

The second step in the letter focuses on UD students’ education on equity and diversity both inside and outside the classroom. One step that has already been taken outside the classroom includes the UDiversity online module that has been available for all students to complete for PATH credit since July 2019. The university reports that over 10,000 students have since completed the module since its launch.

To improve learning around equity and diversity inside the classroom, the Academic Senate voted in 2020 to let anti-racism and inclusion efforts inform their priorities. Other action steps include producing “Ten Things Faculty Can Do to Advance Inclusive Excellence and Anti-Racism in the Classroom” resource for faculty as well as organizing the Inclusive Pedagogy Workshop, which was attended by over 120 faculty members in the spring.  UD’s next steps include a universitywide book-read of Kathryn Oleson’s book, “Promoting Inclusive Classroom Dynamics in Higher Education: A Research-based Pedagogical Guide for Faculty.”

Step 3: Continue building capacity for leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion

This action step promotes dialogue among UD’s academic community. The two initiatives that have been top priority for this step include Courageous Conversations and the Dialogue Zone.

Courageous Conversations meetings occurred throughout the 2020-21 school year for members of the president’s cabinet. These meetings include guided readings, case studies and sharing personal narratives on social differences. A formal launch of Courageous Conversations meetings for the president’s council, which includes 34 members, took place this summer, and small group meetings will continue throughout the school year. The university also reported that eight programs were held virtually this past school year through the Dialogue Zone. 

Step 4: Strengthen efforts to diversify the student body

The Division of Enrollment Management set a goal in 2020 for at least 24% of admitted first-year students this fall would pool from underrepresented racial and ethnic populations. In the latest progress report, the university said that 20% of admitted first-year students this school year fall into this category. In comparison, the university reported that 22.8% of the incoming class in 2020 were from underrepresented racial and ethnic populations. The university said its next steps include revisiting their recruitment strategies in hopes to reach their goal of 24% by fall 2022.

Step 5: Faculty, staff and administrator diversification

In 2021, the university developed a new staff position to help UD be proactive in building a diverse faculty, staff and administration. The new position, filled by Angeline Washington in the Office of Human Resources in May 2021, is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to increase diversity and equity among employees. 

Step 6: Continue to build a climate of safety.

For this step, the university set a goal in 2020 for Public Safety to obtain the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Certification. This certification focuses on bias-free policing, community engagement, telecommunication training and investigation, hiring and recruitment, body camera use and vehicle pursuit.

In June, Public Safety was certified to meet the Group 1 Standard: “Practices and policies are evaluated to ensure that all members of the University feel welcomed, valued and safe.” UD’s next steps include qualifying for Group 2, 3 and 4 Standards by June 2022. 

Other efforts taken by UD Public Safety include completing the Certified Campus Protection Officer Course offered by the National Association of Campus Safety Administrators. Sessions in this training course include mindset in policing, tactical communication, policing the bridge between cultures and diversity. By December 2020, 22 Public Safety Officers had completed the course. UD plans to have all officers complete the course by spring 2022. 

Public Safety also put an emphasis on meeting with communities of color at UD, and the university reports that 24 meetings between MEC and Public Safety took place virtually last school year.

Step 7: Deploy marketing & communication assets to support diversity, equity, & inclusion

The university reported that its marketing and communication team made promoting underrepresented voices a top priority this past school year. Actions taken for this step include promoting a four-part video series on anti-racism on the Diversity and Inclusion dashboard. The university anticipates more opportunities to promote and create video and photographic assets as the campus returns to more in-person activities this fall.

Step 8: Strengthen connections with Black and other alumni of color

UD’s primary goal for this step is for Black alumni, parents and friends of the university to have a strong presence in engagement and philanthropy activities. One upcoming event related to this goal is the Black Alumni Reunion, which UD will host on the same weekend as parents weekend this fall (September 24-26). 

The university is measuring participation from Black alumni, parents and friends by keeping track of the percent of individuals of color in its “three cornerstone volunteer leadership groups.” These groups include the board of trustees, where 22% of members are individuals of color, the alumni association board, with 36%, and academic advisory councils, with 12%. UD reported that while some growth has occurred in these three groups over the past year, it recognizes the clear gaps in representation.

Step 9: Make marginalized histories visible

UD reported that while the COVID-19 pandemic delayed some projects for this step, there was still progress made during the 2020-21 school year. One example includes naming the new computer science building, Jessie H. Hathcock Hall, after UD’s first Black woman graduate in January. 

The updated letter also reports that progress has been made this summer on the construction of the National Pan-Hellenic Council monument. The monument will include 10 small stone monuments on Kennedy Union Plaza representing the NPHC and members historically known as the “Divine Nine.” The monument will be formally dedicated during Black Alumni Weekend. 

Step 10: Work with the Dayton Black community

The objective for this step is for UD leadership to engage with the community outside of campus. The updated letter reported that the university just completed its fourth year of hosting ongoing dialogue with community leaders from Greater West Dayton, otherwise known as the UD-Greater West Dayton Conversation. This committee met monthly throughout the pandemic, and developed strategies for future initiatives that will be mutually beneficial for both the campus community and Greater West Dayton.

Step 11: Expand UD’s utilization of local minority and women-owned businesses

During the past school year, the university reviewed its current partnership with local, minority and women-owned businesses and established areas for potential growth. Recently, UD set a goal to grow university spending over the next five years in partnership with small, minority and women-owned business enterprises. The goals include for 20% of university spending to go towards minority or woman-owned businesses in the next five years as well as at least 25% of spending to go towards small business enterprises. In August 2021, UD also posted its first “Procurement for the Common Good” annual review report. UD will update its progress on its spending goals in August 2022.

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