UD’s progress toward advancing diversity, equality, and inclusion

The University of Dayton will communicate the progress for each item of its 11-step “anti-racist” action plan to the campus community twice per year, photo of UD courtesy of Flyer News.

Tori Miller
Contributing Writer

The University of Dayton continues to strive toward becoming an anti-racist university through an 11-step “anti-racist” action plan further advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

First announced on June 15, 2020, an 11-step anti-racism plan was put forth welcoming the involvement of faculty, staff and students when progressing with the proposed initiatives. Each step is unique in terms of expected level of effort, individuals or groups who will need to be involved, the length of time needed to make measurable progress, resources required, the metrics that will need to be tracked regularly and more. While the particular paths forward will be unique, progress for each item will be tracked and communicated to the campus community twice per year.

Each of the “accountable teams” named in the June 2020 letter to the community submitted a report by the end of September, and the report was published on the UD website on Nov. 10. Brief summaries below provide insight into the status and plans for the 11 action items. Many people from across the institution will need to be involved in the development of specific plans and their implementation.

Here’s a summary for each step involved in this progressive plan:

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

Becoming an anti-racist university requires faculty, staff and administration to recognize that diversity is part of university’s excellence, and that inclusion and equity are cornerstones of our Catholic and Marianist values. With this in mind, members of the UD community in areas of equity-mindedness must set expectations of a purposeful, thoughtful and appropriate engagement in professional development.

By July 2021, UD intends to further their commitment to upholding Catholic and Marianist views, assess delivery and impact of introductory educational content with select groups of UD employees, identify the themes and topics around which deeper professional development and educational content will be designed for employee participation, and develop the method of tracking engagement and set expectations for annual reporting by department/unit/division leadership.

By June 2022, UD hopes to achieve 100 percent participation of new employees hired during the 2021-22 academic year and 85 percent participation of current UD employees at the introductory level with 50 percent engaging in deeper professional development.

2. Student learning through curricular and co-curricular vehicles

In Fall 2017, it was brought to UD’s attention that students were having incidents on campus related to issues of diversity and bias.

Representatives from Black Action Through Unity (BATU) brought forth to the Division of Student Development the request for entry-level education on topics related to diversity and bias at UD. In 2018, the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center and students developed a diversity/bias module, UDiversity, that launched in July 2019 as a PATH-eligible available module for all students.

In 2020-21 and each year thereafter, an assessment of previous efforts will be completed, and the UDiversity module will be revised as appropriate. This includes making additions or adding questions and scenarios to deepen student understanding and provide more opportunities for understanding the topic at hand. 

In addition, in-person UDiversity Chats and Diversity Peer Educator Chats will continue to engage students in intergroup communication related to the module, further developing competence and critical thinking around UDiversity concepts. 

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

This action item focuses on two such initiatives that can add value if they are expanded: Courageous Conversations and the Dialogue Zone.

For two years, Courageous Conversations has found that the combination of guided reading and sharing personal narratives is a powerful way to expand individual capacity for discussing challenging issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and enhancing the understanding of difference and its value to the UD community.

During 2020-21, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion plans to extend the Courageous Conversations model to the larger (34-person) President’s Council that also includes deans, associate provosts and other senior administrative leaders. The President’s Council Courageous Conversations will be launched during Spring 2021, and a plan will be developed to have additional leadership teams for Fall 2021.

The Dialogue Zone has proven to be a valuable cross-university outlet for structured dialogue across differences with participants. For 2020-21 the President’s Council members will encourage greater participation in Dialogue Zone programs and explore additional ways to link existing programming to the Dialogue Zone.

4. Strengthen efforts to diversify the student body

The Division of Strategic Enrollment Management (EM) is central to the achievement of a more socioeconomically and racially diverse undergraduate student body.

A range of individual and group initiatives are being employed that will best prepare the staff to identify, recruit and support a diverse student body. This includes mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion education; anti-bias and anti-racist education for new staff members; and the development of a forum for division staff from underrepresented groups including time with the vice president.

EM will achieve at least 24 percent (vs. 22.8 percent in 2020) of the Fall 2021 admitted first-year, first-time undergraduate student pool from underrepresented racial/ethnic populations.

The vice president for strategic enrollment management will work with UD’s executive leadership team and the Board of Trustees to determine and meet the Fall 2021 racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity targets within the first-year class, including enrolling at least 40 new Flyer Promise Scholars.

EM will work with other units to advance the diversity of the undergraduate student body, specifically by:

  • Update transfer/CAP credit policies and implement a real-time process for review while eliminating bias
  • Identify needs and support efforts to re-allocate academic unit-based resources to support the UD Sinclair Academy

In the 2020-21 academic year, Graduate Academic Affairs will conduct a deep self-study of current policies or procedures that may hinder accessibility to graduate education at UD for racially diverse populations. This will include taking inventory of diversity metrics across programs, identifying past and current efforts used to recruit students from diverse populations, and then assessing which of these initiatives have been effective and could be replicated elsewhere within UD.

5. Faculty, staff, administrator diversification

During the 2020-21 academic year, UD plans on hiring staff positions that will ensure more proactive, successful and diversify pools for faculty, staff, and administrative searches to reach academic and non-academic units.

Administrative leaders and select members of the Working Group on Hiring and Advancement for Diversity, Inclusion, and Mission, proposed position descriptions and search plans will be presented to senior leadership by Dec. 1, with a March 1 target date for hiring (assuming a strong candidate pool and a successful search). 

6. Continue to build a climate of safety

The UD Department of Public Safety is pursuing four specific action items to continue building a climate of safety for people of all identities on the UD campus. These include:

  • Obtain the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Certification, which focuses on bias-free policing, community engagement, telecommunication training and investigation, hiring and recruitment, body camera use and vehicle pursuits. Determination of certification will be by June 2021 (must be filed every four years).
  • In June 2020, UD Public Safety officers began the Certified Campus Protection Officer Course which includes sessions on mindset in policing, tactical communication, policing the bridge between cultures and diversity. All UD police officers will complete this course by December 2020 and maintain compliance.
  • UD Public Safety will continue working with the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center to co-facilitate training, open discussions and educational opportunities to strengthen relationships between Public Safety and underrepresented student populations.
  • UD Public Safety works closely with campus partners — including Student Government, Center for International Programs, Housing and Residence Life and UD Public Safety Advocates — to maintain relationships and be a resource for every member of the University community.

7. Deploy University marketing and communications assets to support diversity, equity, and inclusion

University Marketing and Communications strive to accurately cover and represent all forms of diversity in the UD community by amplifying voices and telling a range of stories. Central marketing and communications will support offices across campus with marketing resources and best practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

8. Strengthen connections with Black and other alumni of color

The central objective in this and coming years is to enhance the connectivity of more Black and other alumni of color to UD for the benefit of current students and the alumni themselves.

In the 2020-21 year, University Advancement will continue to build on progress made in direct outreach to Black alumni. This includes highlighting efforts of the new Senior Associate Director of Development, Diversity and Access Initiatives; the enhanced support provided to the Black Alumni Affinity Group; and tentative plans being developed for a Black Alumni Reunion in Fall 2021. 

9. Make marginalized histories visible

UD intends to make more visible the contributions of our underrepresented populations and their presence in our community today. This group, with a name to-be-determined, should have membership from current members of the campus community with under-represented identities (e.g., MEC, LGBTQ+, Women’s Center), the Archives/Library, Facilities, University Marketing and Communications, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, faculty whose work is tied to underrepresented communities and an alumni relations representative. 

Three projects already under development illustrate the types of opportunities to enhance the visibility of people with marginalized identities:

  • (1) An acknowledgement of the indigenous lands on which UD is located that could be included in some formal University ceremonies.
  • (2) A plaza that recognizes the identity and history of the traditional “Divine 9” African-American Greek organizations at UD
  • (3) The installation of a UD timeline on the second floor of St. Mary’s Hall that recognizes key milestones and individuals across the history of the University.

10. Work with the Dayton Black community

UD leadership is now in the fourth year of an ongoing, regular dialogue with the Black community centered in West Dayton. 

The objectives for this action throughout 2020-21— done with representation of Dayton’s Black community—include developing a stronger, trusted “structural governance” model called the UD-Greater West Dayton Conversation. An effort will be made to identify, track and report on the ways that UD engages with Dayton’s Black community creating an operational framework to drive these efforts through an anti-racism lens. This will also include identifying beneficial projects that can engage UD faculty and students.  

An interim physical location will be selected and in development within the first half of 2021, and progress will be made on fundraising and development of initial incubator programs ranging from education to business.

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

Considerable work has been done in Business and Administrative Services over the past four years to provide the structure, systems and leadership to enable UD to expand women and minority-owned businesses.

An all-university Procurement Advisory Council is being established that will further support the work within this action item. The specific next steps are to partner with the Executive Director of Procurement and Payable Services in identifying minority-owned businesses for future University partnerships. 

The primary goal by January 2021 is to have enough information about UD’s spending needs and the local business context to establish three and five year goals that will be completed by women and minority-owned businesses. 

The University “Procurement for the Common Good” scorecard will track local spending for all relevant minority and women-owned business metrics.

Conclusion

UD is making thoughtful, progressive and strong strides toward creating a diverse, inclusive, and all-encompassing community. Having this action plan will initiate change to ensure UD’s campus will become completely anti-rascist and further represent minorities or communities that have been underrepresented in the past. 

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