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Published April 08, 2016
By President Dick McGinity
A milestone for the University of Wyoming was the Nov. 13, 2015 announcement that it would create (1) a Diversity Strategic Planning Committee (DSPC) representing all university constituencies and (2) create an administrative position responsible for coordinating diversity matters, issues and actions. Subsequently, on Jan. 25, 2016, the Board of Trustees authorized the position of Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, and the formation of a search committee to identify appropriate candidates for this position.
Preliminary steps toward the formation of the search committee and of the DSPC have been taken. Regarding the search committee, Vice President for Academic Affairs David Jones will lead the committee and is in process of considering candidates for it. He would be happy to receive recommendations of possible candidates. Formation of the DSPC will be deferred until the search process has identified the Special Assistant to the President for Diversity. President-designate Laurie Nichols, who will assume UW’s presidency May 16, is aware of these plans.
The administration of the university deeply appreciates the role that members of UW’s Committee on Women and People of Color (CoWPoC) have played over the past 18 months in focusing on the issues addressed in this letter, and pursuing them tenaciously and collaboratively. CoWPoC’s role has been essential in reviving and re-energizing UW’s previous attempts over three decades to transform its institutional culture in the area of diversity and inclusion. All members of the UW community are indebted to CoWPoC for having done so.
The discussions that occurred over the last two academic years -- and that continue to occur -- address university-wide concerns of students, faculty and staff of all races, ethnic origins, gender, gender identity and sexual orientations. UW is committed to a culture that respects diversity and inclusion throughout its academic organization and structure as a core element in education, scholarship and academic life. This letter affirms that:
-- UW strives to create an environment of mutual respect that demonstrates recognition of the growing social, racial and cultural diversity in Wyoming and beyond. UW supports diversity of worldviews, histories and cultural knowledge across a range of social groups including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities, economic class, religions and their complex intersections and interconnected relations.
-- UW strives to have students compete in and contribute to a diverse local, regional and global society by embracing critical thinking, lifelong learning and diverse cultural perspectives.
-- UW commits to expanding and celebrating the diversity of our students, staff and faculty. In doing so, UW develops ethical leaders. It thus values inclusion and a pluralistic learning and research environment, one which respects the various perspectives and lived experiences of a diverse community and global workforce.
-- UW strives for economic diversity and cultural enlightenment. UW seeks to demonstrate the importance of diversity to strengthen excellence and innovation. UW must participate meaningfully in an increasingly integrated world and appreciate the richness and diversity of human cultures. Diversity is strength, and with it comes excellence.
-- As the state’s sole public university, UW’s core mission is to serve the interests of the diverse people of the state with respect to improved recruiting and retention of faculty, students and staff of color, women in underrepresented areas, veterans and individuals with disabilities, and especially to the two indigenous nations residing in Wyoming.
As the formation of the DSPC and the search committee proceeds, members of the UW community should be assured that input and recommendations from all will be welcome and given serious consideration. In particular, once it is formed, the DSPC will consider the recommendations that CoWPoC made in the course of our discussions during the first semester of the 2015-16 academic year. Specifically, DSPC will:
-- Pursue a vision of the university wherein all persons within the university community are assured of equitable treatment and respect.
-- Address five areas of major concern, including:
-- UW student/faculty perceptions and experiences of campus inclusion.
-- UW initiatives and opportunities for strengthening campus diversity.
-- Operationalizing diversity: communication, transparency, consistency and accountability.
-- Curricular and co-curricular renewal: transforming academic learning at UW by incorporating principles of multiculturalism, inclusion, equity and diversity into existing and future curriculum and co-curriculum.
-- Expanding diversity initiatives and maintaining the legacy of inclusiveness.
-- Produce a plan that addresses specific concerns, including:
-- Institutionalizing the plan and its recommendations.
-- The transition UW leadership.
-- UW’s core mission.
-- Inclusion of “best practices” from other institutions.
-- Identification of short- and long-term goals.
-- A clear conceptual framework, detailed goals, action, resources and timelines.
-- Management of the plan and its implementation will be identified.
-- Identification of budgetary and resource needs, recognizing UW’s financial constraints.
-- Implementation timelines.
-- The process for moving the draft plan from the committee to the president to the Board of Trustees.
-- The process for presenting the plan to all university units, developing faculty support, updating platform needs and using department experts.
-- The process for university-wide inclusion and feedback.
-- Design mechanisms for:
-- University-wide assessment and climate surveys.
-- Department surveys and feedback.
-- Letters of support from committee participants and university units.
-- Periodic reviews of the implementation and effectiveness of the plan, and revisions to the plan as needed.
UW’s administration is committed to advancing the university’s efforts in transforming its institutional character as it relates to issues of diversity and inclusion.