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Memo from President Dick McGinity:
Over the course of the last several months, I have had conversations with a variety of stakeholders, both within and outside the university, regarding diversity and inclusion at the University of Wyoming. Through these conversations and informative dialogues, it has become clear to me that as a university, we must strengthen our commitment to diversity, and we must do more to make UW a welcoming and supportive place for all members of our community.
UW currently has in place many measures to ensure and support diversity, and many people who are doing great work in this area. However, if we are going to recruit and retain the best students, staff and faculty, if we are going to be competitive as an institution in an increasingly global and diverse world, and if we are going to graduate students who are prepared to lead, to demonstrate cultural competency and to be successful in the world, then we can and must do more.
As the only land grant institution in Wyoming, the university must have a strong commitment to diversity. It must be embedded in our DNA and supported throughout our institution. While there are many such efforts underway to address issues of diversity throughout the university, it has become increasingly clear that in order for these efforts to have their greatest effect, they must be coordinated, and they must be part of a strong institutional commitment that will be long lasting and enduring.
To begin this process, before the end of the semester, I will appoint a UW Diversity Strategic Planning Committee (DSPC). This committee will be composed of stakeholders from throughout the university and the greater Wyoming community and will be charged with creating a “UW Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement Plan,” which will include both short-term and long-term goals, objectives, action steps, resources needed to effectuate the plan, a timeline for communication and implementation, and a robust means for measuring and assessing progress.
Once the DSPC committee has drafted such a plan, it will be vetted through UW constituents seeking the support of students, staff, faculty, administration and the trustees by the end of February 2016. Further, the outline of the DSPC plan will be shared with incoming presidential candidates as part of UW’s transition plan and can be used as part of our upcoming accreditation materials.
Further, it is essential that action beyond plan development must be taken now. In addition to the creation of a plan, I intend to establish the position of Coordinator of Diversity. This position will report directly to me and be a member of my Executive Council, working directly with all vice presidents and the Office of the President. Though the state faces financial challenges, and despite the hiring freeze, I find campus discussions so compelling that I believe it is essential to begin a search for a leader now, rather than wait for a draft plan next semester.
My experiences over the last several months have made it clear to me that there is university-wide buy-in and a strong commitment to strengthen diversity. The UW Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement Plan will be an important tool in enabling the university to meet the diversity issues and challenges that we are faced with in a proactive way. Diversity is strength, and with it comes excellence.