My recent updates have focused on five action items that have been developed in response to student, faculty, and staff concerns. These actions are crucial to helping our campus move forward in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion. As I’ve shared with you, plans have been put into place to make progress on these items this semester and beyond, and they remain a top priority.
Another action item is increasing diversity representation in all of our departments to align with our student population. While recent data does show that we are making some strides in increasing diversity in various areas, it is not moving as quickly as any of us would like. By focusing strategically on this issue, I’m confident greater gains will be made.
Below are goals from our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Plan.
Goal 1: Achieve a balance of representation in faculty and staff in line with student population, and national, state, and regional demographics; and maintain a commitment to retention and promotion of minority and underrepresented faculty and staff.
Our EDI plan notes that in fall 2015, the College’s faculty was 84% White, our professional staff was 84.5% White, and our operational staff was 91.6% White. Using the most recent pay period for the College, the breakdown of our staffing looks like this (please note we have broken our staffing down further than we did in the plan itself):
|Non-resident Alien||Hispanic/Latino||American Indian or Alaska Native||Asian||Black or African American||Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander||White||Two or More Races|
Over the last year, we had 116 employees who left the college, the vast majority of whom left through resignation or retirement (105). We average an employee turnover rate of around 14%, which means we can expect similar numbers to leave us over the next year. We have crucial work to do to ensure that we attract and retain a more diverse faculty and staff, including in relation to racial and ethnic diversity. Through federal requirements, we currently track gender, race/ethnicity, disability status and veteran status; we do not track other identity markers, and it is important to note that individuals have the right to privacy, so are not required to provide details to HR about their identity.
Opportunities to achieve greater success in our diversity measure include the following:
- The PRODiG programs, that seek to attract and retain underrepresented minority (URM) faculty and women in STEM.
- The permanent funding of a diversity recruiter position, with clear metrics and goals attached to the role
- Review of our search committee training and processes to eliminate unconscious bias
- A concerted effort by all to support individuals as they seek promotion
- Goal Four group for the College’s strategic plan, Building a Better Brockport, is responsible for reviewing our recruitment and retention data for faculty and staff, and as a group, they are committed to advocating for resources to make sure that Brockport is a Great Place to Work. Both the training and development position announced last week and the diversity recruiter position were proposed by the Goal Four group to the Joint Planning and Budget Committee (JPBC).
Goal 2: Achieve a balance of representation in student body population in line with state demographics; and maintain a commitment to retention, completion, and academic success of minority and underrepresented students.
We have seen steady and significant increases in our URM student numbers, so much so that roughly 27% of our incoming first year students come from URM backgrounds, up from around 9% ten years ago. Our graduate student numbers are also seeing increases in most years. See the Institutional Research and Analysis website for more information on the last five years of our recruitment: https://www.brockport.edu/support/research_analysis/docs/research_pdfs/race_ethnicity.pdf
The College has funded downstate undergraduate admissions recruiters for several years, and the current five year budget plan includes maintenance of these positions. We have a robust undergraduate admissions plan as well as a Strategic Plan for Undergraduate Retention which has been a focus for several years. In addition, we are developing new programs at graduate levels that aim to meet the needs of our region, and which we hope and expect will continue to diversify our student body.
Opportunities to achieve greater success in our diversity measures include the following:
- The mini-bridge program approved by Cabinet in January and by JPBC earlier this month, which I wrote about previously
- Ongoing support for our signature programs such as CSTEP McNair and EOP
- Implementation of Starfish Analytics, a tool to enhance our early intervention and retention efforts
- Extra-curricular and co-curricular programming that supports students’ sense of belonging and purpose
Goal 3: Ensure that curriculum, programming, and/or trainings educate all incoming students, faculty, and staff and are available to current students, faculty, and staff in issues of social equity and the ability to speak to each other across differences as part of the College’s commitment to inclusive community, diverse engagement, academic excellence, and self-transformation.
We are reviewing our EDI program array and seeking ways to ensure that our programming is intentional, well marketed, and well attended. We need to assess our successes in programming to see what works, and to ensure that we make changes to programs that have not been as attractive or beneficial. And as noted previously, additional training will be implemented this spring.
Opportunities to achieve greater success in our diversity measure include the following:
- The new training and development position approved by Cabinet and noted above
- We are working on a new online calendaring process on campus, which should allow us to ensure fewer scheduling conflicts.
While we had to postpone our Community Conversation scheduled for this week due to travel difficulties, we will be going ahead with our next Community Conversations on Thursday, March 5, and Thursday, March 26. I have attached a flyer promoting these events; please watch for a Daily Eagle message with more details.
Goal 4: Continue to build and maintain an inclusive and positive campus climate for every member in which to foster internal and external community building on the campus, local, regional, and international levels in which diversity is valued and inclusion and equity are shared.
This is truly one of the more important goals of the EDI plan, and the one to which we must direct additional resources. On January 16, at the College Leadership Summit, which includes academic chairs, deans, directors, AVPs and cabinet—about 120 people in total—we tested the four values of Building a Better Brockport. These values are community, engagement, excellence, and transformation. We explored how we might better adhere to and support these values individually, in our home departments or offices, and collectively as a college. I also asked the members of the summit whether to include a fifth value, inclusion, taking the definition that had been developed by the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion and endorsed by College Senate on 4/22/19: “The College at Brockport defines inclusion as the practice of creating an environment that facilitates the full engagement of all. An inclusive environment allows for authentic participation and a true sense of belonging that fosters dialogue and connections among individuals and communities.”
The next step in this process will include Values Cafes, based on the world café model (see http://www.theworldcafe.com/key-concepts-resources/design-principles/ for more information) and which will mirror the Vision Cafes we held on campus in 2015. I have asked two leaders on campus to run these cafes, details of which will be announced in The Daily Eagle when they are finalized. In addition to newer faculty and staff, we want all of our community—including, of course, our students—to have an opportunity to take part in this mid-cycle review of our strategic plan, either in person or via a survey.
In addition, we remain committed as a College to our Better Community Statement. We include this statement in all orientations of our students, but we can do more to ensure that our faculty and staff are aware of it, too, through new faculty training and through NEST training, and that we recommit to it regularly.
Finally, we must work on ensuring that we are able to support diversity of opinion, and seek ways to talk across differences in a respectful and collegial way. Here I want to quote directly from our Better Community Statement, which guides our exchanges and behavior:
- “We acknowledge that free speech, debate and discourse are necessary to achieve an examined life.
- We acknowledge that the essence of academic freedom is the free and open expression and exchange of ideas, even when controversial or unconventional.
- We affirm that the dignity of our Brockport community is protected when free speech,
academic freedom and individual rights are expressed only with responsible and careful
regard for the feelings and sensitivities of others.”
I hope that this update has been useful. I want you to be aware of the areas we are working on, and I want to commit to you that we will be continuing to work with students, faculty, and staff to focus on refining and revising our plan so that we can make real progress across all four goals. Our Better Community Statement also includes this sentence: “The spirit of building a better community is best served when the ideals of integrity, civility and justice are expressed and debated with tolerance and good will.”
It is a reminder to me that Building a Better Brockport is a process; the ‘ing’ at the end of Building is deliberate, because we are always in a state of working towards our best community.
Finally, I’m pleased to share that, as noted in my action items last week, Dr. Rodmon King will arrive on campus next week. He will be on campus 2-3 days per week through the spring semester, and l know that he looks forward to having the opportunity to meet our community.