By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief

 

On December 7, a University of Missouri System-wide email was sent out from Interim President Michael Middleton. The email explained the next step to the diversity survey the UM System took earlier this semester. IBIS Consulting Group was commissioned by the University of Missouri Board of Curators to complete the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Audit.

On November 9, 2015 the Board of Curators announced a series of strategic initiatives to address diversity, equity, and inclusion on all four campuses. Interim Middleton chaired the UM System Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force (DEI Task Force). On December 17, 2015, Middleton appointed Dr. S. David Mitchell, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to serve as the chair. The first round of members was appointed on January 17 of this year. The DEI Task Force is comprised of individuals from System administrative units, each of the four campuses, and representatives from the University of Missouri Healthcare, and University of Missouri Extension.

The DEI Task Force convened for a retreat in Columbia, Missouri on November 28 and 29 this year to discuss the findings of the DEI Audit. The first day, members of the Task Force brought up concerns with the Audit. The Audit Report states that members questioned the audit’s lack of focus on power, privilege, and intersectionality as well as lack of specificity with recommendations and concrete solutions to how to hire a diverse faculty. The Audit Report states, “Others raised questions about methodology, specifically calling attention to the small sample size of students, and that some protected classes appeared to have been omitted, such as veterans.”

The IBIS consultants responded to these concerns on the second day. Their response was that the IBIS Audit Report was “neither designed nor contemplated to be a campus climate survey and thus [did not] receive feedback from every university community member.” Instead, according to the report, the audit data was collected by “individual interviews and focus groups of randomly selected participants on each of the core campuses and System.”

Interim President Middleton said in the email, “I am supportive of the task force’s recommendations and look forward to the continued success of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I also am, and shall continue to be, heartened in seeing and sharing the success stories that rise out of our joined efforts to create the university we imagine.”

At the conclusion, it reads, “While the Task Force has provided input at this stage, the larger responsibility for the university’s effort around diversity, equity, and inclusion are not the sole responsibility of the Task Force. It is a collective effort to which each member of our university has a responsibility.”

UMSL’s initiatives are as follows:

 

Access and Success

  • Conduct a pay equity audit
  • Review faculty and staff recruitment and retention practices (e.g., benefits, spousal Hire, child care subsidy):
    • Consider cluster hiring and targeted hires;
    • Renew diversity hires program via the Chancellor’s Office;
    • Consider contributions to diversity for all promotions, as well as tenure decisions;
    • Consider paid maternity/parental leave; and,
    • Require DEI/unconscious bias training for hiring/search committees
  • Review student recruitment and retention practices (e.g., more assistance, housing, social work services for students, SNAP/EBT and WIC purchasing ability on campus)

 

Education and Scholarship

  • Conduct a review of general education and cultural diversity requirements
  • Consider a “cultural diversity” class, service-learning requirements, and an African American studies program
  • Conduct a review of freshmen orientation through a diversity lens
  • Pursue grants to support research and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion

 

Campus Climate and Intergroup Relations

  • Expand the Chancellor’s Cultural Diversity Council (CCDC) and increase staff for Office of Diversity and Inclusion to achieve goals
  • Review inclusion strategies for service maintenance/facilities services units and other hourly employees
  • Implement exit surveys for students, faculty, and staff
  • Review communications approach and strategies:
    • Consider more immediate response to national and local events, directly from Chancellor;
    • Consider messaging from Employee Assistance Program (EAP); and
    • Provide DEI training for communications staff
  • Review staff orientation practices to increase sense of community

Institutional Infrastructure

  • Support the diversifying of administration
  • Conduct an assessment of the needs of international students and provide program support
  • Implement a DEI scorecard with a regular audit
  • Implement DEI awards/recognition
  • Implement a yearlong faculty/staff orientation and refresher

The full DEI Audit- https://www.umsystem.edu/deiaudit