Diversity and Inclusion

Charge

The Diversity and Inclusivity Workgroup was charged with identifying the benefits and nature of a diverse and inclusive culture at West Virginia University (all campuses), and the resources and changes needed to introduce and grow this culture. It is widely acknowledged that diversity and inclusion are beneficial and appropriate in an academic environment and that they support the recruiting and retention of students, faculty, and staff. The Diversity Workgroup was encouraged to interpret their mandate broadly, and address factors internal to the institution and assess quantitatively the way in which diversity and inclusion may benefit WVU at the state, national, and global levels. The plan required mindfulness of internal resource limitations, but also identification additional, external resources that may be available to grow diversity at land-grant institutions. The Workgroup was charged by the Strategic Planning Council (SPC) and tasked with reporting findings, identifying strategic and measurable objectives, quantifying benefits of change and identifying a realistic pathway to meeting objectives.

Expected tasks included:

  1. Identification of existing and potential constituencies that create a diverse and inclusive culture among students, faculty and staff at WVU. Minority groups, returning veterans, international students, those dealing with poverty, underrepresented genders in certain disciplines/departments, the disabled, adult learners and single parents should all at least be considered.
  2. Investigation of diversity initiatives at peer institutions and development of an understanding of differences and similarities in opportunity and effort between WVU and peer institutions.
  3. Identification of the short-term and long-term benefits to WVU of espousing a more extensive diversity agenda and the deficits of failing to do so. The Committee will report the impacts on students, faculty, staff, staff, image and culture. Investigation of the impact of a diversity culture change on recruiting, retention and well-being of students, faculty and staff on WVU campuses. Consideration of governmental compliance and regulatory reporting.
  4. Identification of diversity goals, objectives and options, and in conjunction with the SPC, determination as to how these will interface with the emerging goals and objectives in other Strategic Planning study areas.
  5. Examination of the changes in internal structure, the resources required on campus, and the resources required for activities external to campus, to achieve the goals and objectives.
  6. Investigation of external sources of funding and tangible resources available to grow diversity, create an inclusive climate on WVU’s campuses, or offer support to specific constituencies. Consideration of resources from foundations or government initiatives, or resources generated by the benefits of a more comprehensive diversity and inclusivity culture in the future through a steady growth and change.
  7. Identification of measures to recognize and assess objectives and benefits, and gather data to form a baseline for future comparison.

Preliminary Recommendations

  • Establish an Office of Diversity and Inclusion. This office is headed by a Chief Diversity Officer at the level of Vice President who reports to the President. The office is staffed with a group of experts, promotes diversity, inclusion, equity and intercultural/intercommunity outreach for the University community.
  • Create a plan. In order to embrace cultural diversification and enhance a climate of inclusion within the institution, develop and implement a comprehensive diversity plan with the best practice tenets identified below. We strongly believe that institutional commitment is essential to the presence of and success of any Diversity & Inclusiveness initiative. In particular, it is vital to provide a benchmark for going forward in implementing a Diversity & Inclusiveness plan.
  • Institutional commitment. Provide adequate resources and infrastructure for academic and support services that result in and promoting diversity throughout the institution and the community.
  • Establish Physical and Virtual Visibility. Identify a physical location for visibility and accessibility of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on WVU campuses (WVU, PSC and WVUIT). Maintain a prominent website for diversity and inclusion. Information on diversity and inclusion should be given the same priority as other campus initiatives through a prominent physical and virtual presence. Both should be well-designed and easily navigable that demonstrates the presence of diversity and inclusion as major strategic initiatives and practices of the institution.

Conclusions – July 26, 2010