Diversity and Inclusion
The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which was formed by President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D. in response to concerns raised by students and faculty was charged with formulating recommendations to:
- Ensure that training for staff and administrators and professional development opportunities for faculty are sufficiently robust in the diversity, equity and inclusivity space
- Recruit and retain faculty from historically underrepresented groups
- Incorporate diversity, equity and inclusivity into the curricula
- Create a more inclusive campus climate
The Task Force will regularly update the campus community on the progress being made towards these strategic goals. In addition, the Task Force will contribute to the overall campus dialogue on diversity and inclusion through:
- On-campus resources for students, faculty, staff, and administration
- Events and workshops
- Training in best practices
As the semester winds down, we write to update you on recent initiatives undertaken by the Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion. In our earlier communication, we updated the community on the Task Force's initial recommendations. While we continue to move forward with those initiatives (status updates on several of them are set forth below), we wanted to inform you of additional measures the University has implemented during the last two months.
Public Safety Department Review
- The University has engaged an external consultant to (i) review the Department of Public Safety's policies, practices, and procedures to identify barriers to a more inclusive department culture and approach to interacting with our students and employees, and (ii) provide recommendations on how to most effectively and efficiently remove such barriers.
- The University has retained additional investigators on a temporary basis to assist with bias investigations. The University has also engaged a consultant to audit the bias complaint processes for both students and employees, identify any gaps that may exist, and provide recommendations on how we can improve and streamline the complainant experience.
- In collaboration with St. John's Division of Student Affairs and the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles, the student campus climate survey was launched on April 9. If you have not already done so, we encourage all students to respond.
- In collaboration with an external consultant, preliminary phases of a faculty climate survey have been completed. The full survey is in development and will be launched by the end of the month.
- A Center for Counseling and Consultation staffing analysis was conducted. As a result, the University has approved an expansion plan to better support student needs in this area.
- All students were invited to apply to serve on the Task Force's Student Subcommittee. Members of the Student Subcommittee will vet Task Force recommendations, partner with University student organizations in the development of inclusivity programming and educational opportunities, and work as a team to formulate and present student-centered recommendations to the Task Force. The interview and selection process will be completed by April 30.
Public Safety Training
- The University has engaged an external consultant to provide three days of training for the Department of Public Safety. This training will take place in May.
DEI Lecture Series
- The Task Force will co-sponsor the Ninth Annual Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies Multidisciplinary Conference on Immigration, "The Rise of Transnational Populism: A Multidisciplinary Approach," on May 2-3, 2018.
Use of Preferred Name
- For fall 2018, the University will institute a process by which students can use their preferred name for their e-mail, class rosters, and StormCards. Additional information on this initiative will be shared in a future communication.
- Both the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion and the Inclusivity Resource Center are scheduled to open in fall 2018. Additional information on the center openings will be provided in future communications.
Best Practices in Faculty Recruiting Workshop
- Early in fall 2018, an external consultant will provide Personnel and Budget Committee members with a workshop on faculty recruiting best practices.
Implicit Bias Training for Personnel and Budget Committee Members
- In March, implicit bias training was conducted for Personnel and Budget Committee members.
Communication of Efforts
- The University created a web presence for the Task Force which can be viewed at stjohns.edu/diversity-and-inclusion. The initial recommendations can be seen there, and we will continue to update the site with additional content.
- The Task Force chairs delivered multiple presentations to the University community on the charges of the Task Force, its initial recommendations, and progress to date.
DEI Lecture Series
The Task Force co-sponsored a talk on March 5 with author Jeanne Theoharis, Ph.D. and the 13th Annual Caribbean Speaker Series, featuring award-winning Puerto Rican writer Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, on March 12.
Together with the Office of the Provost, Division of Student Affairs, Office of Mission, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and Campus Ministry, the Task Force supported the screening of the movie Sacred on April 9.
We will continue to provide periodic updates on the Task Force's progress. We wish all a successful end to the semester.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Certificate Program
The program launched on October 4, 2017 with a two-day, train-the-trainer module facilitated by external, expert consultants Tanya Williams, Ph.D., and Kathy Obear, Ph.D. The initial cohort consists of 35 faculty and administrators from across the University. Subsequent to the train-the-trainer component, cohort members have been working to deepen their knowledge, education, and understanding of equity and inclusion best practices. Program participants will deliver diversity training to faculty, administrators, and staff. Upon completion of the 18-month program, this cohort will become the University’s first “Inclusion Practitioners,” charged with working within their respective departments or units to identify ways in which policies and procedures may be modified to create a more inclusive workplace.
Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion
In response to an invitation from the Provost, a faculty workgroup was created to operationalize an Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion. Workgroup members began to meet over summer 2017. The Academic Center will become the hub/portal for faculty to enhance their ability to create curricular content and pedagogical practices that meet the needs of our diverse students as well as our global community.
The "pillars” of the Center include providing education/pedagogical resources, producing skills building/professional development opportunities, facilitating intergroup dialogue, supporting research/scholarship, and advocating for and supporting faculty in the implementation of inclusive teaching practices. The faculty workgroup created the Center’s mission and vision statements and conducted a SWOT and benchmark analysis. In collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, in fall 2017 the concept of the Academic Center was presented to students for their feedback. Presentations will continue through spring 2018. It is currently anticipated that the Academic Center will be fully operational in fall 2018.
Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion
Task Force members represented St. John’s at the Black Doctoral Network, Inc., Collegiate Diversity Recruitment Fair in Philadelphia in spring 2017. This fair provided the University with an opportunity to network with Black and Latino faculty, post-docs, and graduate students.
Engagement of External Consultant
The University has engaged the services of Dr. Sonel Shropshire, President of the Academic Network, Inc., to assist in the implementation of faculty recruiting best practices. Dr. Shropshire presented on strategies to successfully recruit diverse candidates at the August 2017 Chairs Retreat.
The University became a member of the Minority Faculty/Staff Applicant Database (MFAD), a significant resource in circulating faculty, staff, and administrative positions to diverse candidates.
External consultants will provide hiring best practices training (including addressing implicit bias) to members of departmental Personnel and Budget Committees.
National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity
The University purchased an institutional membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, a nationally recognized, independent organization that provides online career development and mentoring resources for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students.
Appointment to UPC
Effective spring 2018, Dr. Gempesaw appointed Nada Llewellyn, in her capacity as Chief Diversity Officer, to serve on the University Personnel Committee. The University Personnel Committee is an administrative and faculty committee that decides faculty tenure and promotion actions.
Members of the Task Force worked with the University Core Curriculum Committee on the proposed core curriculum outcomes. As a result, the proposed core and core connection outcomes now explicitly incorporate equity and inclusivity themes.
Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion
The Academic Center faculty workgroup determined that the Academic Center will be a central resource to support faculty in the development of high-quality curricula that promotes inclusive excellence and equity in education.
Task Force member Susie J. Pak, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, began researching the University’s history from an inclusivity perspective, so that the all members of the St. John’s community will have access to our collective story. In fall 2017, a graduate assistant was assigned to help in this effort.
Student Affairs launched an online system for students to report experiences or concerns related to bias, discrimination, harassment, and/or microaggressions within the University community: Stjohns.edu/reportbias.
The Task Force formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Lecture Series subcommittee, charged with identifying programming opportunities for the University community.
Task Force co-chairs worked with representatives of Student Government, Inc., to identify resources (both internal and external) to conduct training for student organization leaders.
Task Force co-chairs met with representatives of several student organizations/movements, including Haraya, Students of Consciousness, Spectrum, and Sankofa, to review the Task Force recommendations and discuss their experiences on campus.
The Task Force is creating a subcommittee solely comprising students who will be directly involved in our work and to ensure that students remain aware of our progress. The application is being developed in collaboration with representatives from various student organizations/movements and will be distributed to the entire student body in the coming weeks.
Campus Climate Survey
This semester, the University will launch a campus climate survey designed to measure how our students experience St. John’s from an inclusivity perspective.
The University will solicit applications for RESPECT (Respond and Partner to Engage our Community Team) this semester. RESPECT is a bias-response team that will serve as an additional resource for members of the University community who experience a bias incident. The RESPECT team, which will comprise students, faculty, staff, and administrators, will assist complainants with formally reporting these incidents if the complainant so desires. They will also help connect complainants with counseling resources if requested. Significantly, RESPECT will be charged with designing educational programming to address any identified patterns of behavior that is inconsistent with an inclusive campus climate.
Inclusivity Resource Center
In fall 2018, the University plans to inaugurate a new Inclusivity Resource Center. Based on the belief that education is the foundation of a more inclusive campus climate, the purpose of this Center is to provide students with resources to assist them in engaging in authentic and informed dialogue with their peers. This Center will offer monthly equity and inclusivity themed workshops to the University community. It will also feature a room that can be reserved by student groups that address the needs of historically marginalized groups and have missions that are consistent with that of the University.