Town Hall Meeting Reviews Progress on Inclusive Excellence and Maps Out Future Actions

To underline Saint Mary's commitment to embracing the values of inclusion, respect for all members of the community and civil discourse, the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence held a Town Hall meeting in the Soda Center on April 27 and shared the steps the college has taken during the past year and its plans for the future.

Provost Beth Dobkin, the committee's co-chair, reminded attendees of the inclusive excellence framework adopted by the campus nearly three years ago and noted that campus efforts to advance inclusive excellence are not always well known. As an example, it has been just over a year since the student group "Our Struggle Is Tied With Yours" called attention to concerns about inclusiveness on campus, and considerable progress has been made.

In past year, she said, the committee has drawn inspiration from the Brothers of the Christian Schools Circular 461 to articulate the importance of inclusion in fulfilling the college's mission. The college has taken some significant steps toward addressing concerns raised by the students and others.

Accomplishments for the Year

Provost Dobkin noted that the college has:

Revised the sexual assault hotline protocols.
Approved a proposal for student diversity leadership awards and allocated funds for the awards.
Revised hiring practices with a goal of achieving greater faculty and staff diversity.
Promoted the mandate that all staff and faculty attend a Campus of Difference diversity awareness workshop every three years.
Instituted a new roommate selection process to address safety concerns regarding gender identity.
Increased support for the Intercultural Center
Expanded support of the Interactive Theatre Troupe, appointed a coordinator and expanded workshops.
Expanded opportunities for student artistic expression in places such as the Women's Resource Center.
Provided extensive community access to the campus Climate Survey results.
Reviewed Circular 461 of the Christian Brothers and affirmed inclusive community in the context of our mission.
Co-sponsored special programming, such as the LEAD (Latino Education Advocacy Day) event.
Drafted a one-page guide to procedures for addressing student concerns about conduct in the classroom.
Developed department- and school-specific training in inclusive climate and civil discourse.

Campus of Difference Workshops and Other CCIE-Sponsored Programs

About 350 faculty and staff have attended Campus of Difference workshops, according to Professor Mary McCall. Other training programs in the past year included a six-week communication workshop series, a white privilege book group, and training programs for students who facilitated dialogues on difference and inclusive community with about 150 first-year students during Jan term and other first-year advising groups in the spring.

In addition to sponsoring the Campus of Difference workshops, the CCIE funds a variety of inclusive excellence proposals from faculty, staff and students, and it awarded just over $30,000 to more than 20 applicants during the past academic year, Joan Iva Fawcett said. Among the projects funded were:

Wo/men's Conference: The Crossroads of Social Change
De la Salle Week talk by Jimmie Briggs, founder of Man Up
Participation in the Leadership and Social Justice Conference, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, the Interfaith Leadership Institute, the National Conference on Minority Recruitment, and many others.

Proposals for amounts in excess of $1,000 are reviewed twice a year; requests for lesser amounts are reviewed on an ongoing basis. (Information about applying for CCIE funds).

What's in Store for the Future?

Once the year's achievements had been presented, Professor Tomas Gomez-Arias, the committee's co-chair outlined plans for the future. He said that the committee is carrying out the Organizational Development Model of Inclusion, which was adopted by the college in 2009 in order to provide a framework for change, and has identified four strategic areas on which it will focus:

Inclusive and civil dialogue
Academic success for ALL students
Increasing diversity among faculty, staff and administrators
Development of cultural competency

Responsibility for these focus areas has been assigned to Cabinet-level offices, specifically, the president, provost, vice president for enrollment, vice president for finance and administration, and vice president of student life. Within each focus area, the committee has set dozens of specific, measurable goals, such as articulating inclusive excellence and establishing clear systems of accountability. It is now developing metrics to measure progress on these goals, with the aim of consistently "moving the needle" toward the targets for each goal, Gomez-Arias said.

The Town Hall meeting concluded with a brainstorming session to discover concrete ways in which attendees could advance the CCIE's plan and an invitation from the provost to the community to participate in the process, with the goal of creating a campus that embraces inclusiveness as part of its identity, policies and practices.

Do you have questions or comments about the CCIE plan? Please direct them to Professor Tomas Gomez-Arias, ext. 4928.

Teresa Castle
Office of College Communications

View the CCIE vision statement.