A Diversity Action Plan for The Ohio State University
Ohio State's Goal: To Be a National Model for Diversity
Dear Colleagues and Students,
Attached is the final report of the Diversity Action Committee which we charged 18 months ago to devise a plan by which Ohio State could become one of the most welcoming campuses in the country. The committee, co- chaired by Dean Carole Anderson and former Vice President David Williams, produced a thoughtful and substantive document, and we commend the committee members for their diligence and hard work.
The committee's final report sets forth a plan of action and progress, and while it is a document of hope and aspiration, it is also one that confronts a disquieting truth:
"Numerous studies and reports focused on diversity and campus climate have been issued over the years, and virtually all have come to the same conclusion: change was necessary. What has been lacking, however, is the university's commitment to create real and measurable change. There has not been an official, university-wide implementation/action plan with identified goals, and concrete strategies for achieving them."
The committee strongly believed that the climate for success could be much better and that our campus must be more welcoming of difference. The need for change has also been supported this Summer both by the findings of the multi-year SRI study on the Retention of Women and Minority Faculty and Staff as well as the first report of the Affirmative Action Committee which we appointed to prepare suggestions on actions that could be implemented immediately. (The committee's report will be circulated within the next several days.)
We concur that the evidence regarding the need for change is clear and compelling. Further, we believe there are several principles that must guide our actions. They are:
- The diversity of the student body and the success of all students must be a key component of our diversity plan.
- A diverse faculty and welcoming classroom climate are crucial to the success of these efforts.
- Academic programs must advance knowledge and understanding of the challenging issues associated with diversity.
- Progress towards a campus that fully welcomes difference will depend upon the ability of each individual to respect the diversity of others.
- Listening, as well as speaking, is essential when discussing issues raised in promoting diversity.
- Progress must be steady.
We outline below some of the steps we have taken and will be taking both in the immediate future and in the months ahead to address the issues raised in the Diversity Action Plan, the SRI report, and the Affirmative Action Committee report:
- We will be appointing a Diversity Council as called for in the Diversity Action Plan and are pleased to announce that Dean Anderson has agreed to serve as the council's first chair. The council will guide and monitor progress and serve as a key focus of our ongoing efforts to enhance the campus environment. We will call for nominations to complete the membership of the council during Autumn Quarter. Previous efforts to improve diversity have lacked constancy of purpose and we believe that the Diversity Council can help us to overcome that problem. The council will be charged to develop a timetable for implementation of the recommendations of the Diversity Action Plan as well as those of the Affirmative Action Committee.
- We have asked each academic unit and each vice presidential unit to undertake a diversity project chosen from the Diversity Action Plan and reports regarding these projects are due this month.
- We will hold each administrator and unit accountable for progress in implementing their action plans and contributing to progress with regard to the University's diversity goals, making clear the expectations and consequences.
- We have created the President and Provost's Diversity Lecture Series which will bring 16 nationally recognized experts to campus this year to examine issues of interest to the university community.
- We have provided seed funding for the creation of an Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in the Americas, an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the Colleges of Humanities, Law, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
- We have authorized $500,000 in new funding for scholarship programs, including funds for transfer students, designed to increase diversity.
- We have begun to reassess the criteria for accessing funds from the Faculty Hiring Assistance Program, with the goal of facilitating hiring of faculty at senior ranks beginning this year.
- We have established a multicultural center in the Ohio Union and have charged a committee to develop the concept for the operation of the center.
- We have asked the associate vice president for enrollment services and the vice provost for minority affairs to collect and monitor data on the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of minority students as contrasted with overall rates and to suggest means to improve these, and we have set aside $600,000 for programs to improve retention and pre-enrollment programs that can be implemented in the 2001-02 academic year.
- We have set aside $102,000 in continuing funds and $83,000 in one- time funds for the Office of Human Resources for the collection of affirmative action data for faculty positions and for employment law and sexual harassment training for leaders and supervisors.
- We are in the process of appointing work groups to address recommendations in the SRI Report on the Retention of Women and Minority Faculty and Staff that are not being considered in other forums. These work groups will present options for action to the provost before the end of the academic year. The Diversity Council will advise the provost with regard to these options for action and establish timelines for implementation.
- We have committed $73,000 in continuing funds and $23,000 in one- time funds to promote access for persons with disabilities through Student Affairs and the libraries.
- We have allocated $31,000 in continuing funds for a proactive education program promoting understanding and respect for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.
- Through the funds available from the Coca-Cola pouring rights contract, we have set aside $1.5 million in cash and endowment funds to support innovative academic and student initiatives related to diversity.
This list is not exhaustive; it is illustrative of our commitment to make significant progress in the short-term and, more importantly, over the long-term. Even a casual review of this list reveals that there is a combination of incentives and mandates, carrots and sticks. It is critical that the university's expectations related to diversity goals be clear and the consequences for failure to pursue goals earnestly will be widely known and effectively applied.
But the message we want to deliver today - and which we will consistently deliver in the days ahead - is that this great university can become even greater by aspiring to the highest standards of community. We can be, and will be, a model for others to emulate. We can be a place where all persons will be valued and respected - and feel valued and respected. These are our expectations, and we ask you to join us in making them reality.
Brit Kirwan and Ed Ray