Here in the College of Arts and Sciences, we strive to create an environment of inclusive excellence—a place for our faculty, our staff and our students to lead and succeed whatever their background, ethnicity, gender, religion, age or sexual orientation.
We share a responsibility to ensure that the College truly reflects the diversity of the world we live in. We know that when people from diverse backgrounds and experiences are brought together, innovation and new ideas happen. Having our preconceptions challenged and seeing new perspectives lifts us out of group-think mentality. We are richer for it.
We have made tremendous strides over the past decade in improving faculty diversity in the College –and we surpass our peers in many important metrics – but we still have much more work ahead. One of the ways in which my predecessor, Karen Gil, demonstrated her commitment to diversity was by creating the position of director of faculty diversity initiatives to help in matters of hiring and retention, and to support collaborative interdisciplinary connections in research, teaching and service. The College also has created a network of diversity liaisons from every academic department to assist in these efforts.
One of my first actions as dean has been to announce the formation of a Dean’s Faculty Diversity Advisory Group, which will help us to develop a five-year plan for key initiatives around diversity and inclusiveness. Our Office of Undergraduate Education is taking an inventory of our course offerings to identify intersections and course content on topics of diversity and inclusiveness. Building on this inventory, we will issue a call for course proposals to increase such offerings for our students, one of which will be a “super course” to be offered in spring 2017. We will also continue to identify strategies for recruiting faculty from underrepresented groups, which will increase opportunities for our students to gain exposure to faculty from more diverse backgrounds. I look forward to working with my senior leadership team, including Kia Caldwell, the College’s director of faculty diversity initiatives, to build on the successful initiatives the College has already begun.
I want to emphasize that our efforts are not just about improving numbers. We are also working to create an inclusive climate where every member of the College’s community—faculty, staff and students—feels valued, respected, engaged and empowered.
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences