Community Update: Council on Equity, Inclusion and Intercultural Awareness

To: The Gonzaga University Community

From: Dr. Raymond F. Reyes, Associate Academic Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer
Chris Purviance, Assistant Director of Human Resources, Office of Equity & Inclusion

Date: September 19, 2016

Subject: Community update regarding the Council on Equity, Inclusion and Intercultural Awareness

On behalf of the Council on Equity, Inclusion and Intercultural Awareness, we would like to welcome everyone back to another invigorating academic year. As you may recall, last Spring President McCulloh established the Council to create and sustain institutional structures and practices that eliminate any barriers that prevent the university from achieving the fullness of its mission with the goal to increase the level of inclusion and intercultural competence as well as optimize the academic acumen embedded in human difference.

We would like to use this opportunity to offer an update on the Council’s priorities and strategic intentions for this academic year. In addition, we want to introduce initiatives currently being implemented in collaboration with the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) and activities which are in direct alignment with the Council’s scope of work:

Council Update

On September 22, 2016 the Council will convene its first meeting of this academic year. We are looking forward to leveraging the Council’s work in order to take the university to the next level of excellence in this area of our mission. The Council plays a critical role in making sure we strategically set our priorities, institutionalize our commitments through policy & procedures, and optimize our existing resources to support best practices in how we address inclusion, equity and intercultural competence within a Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic context.

In meetings held last spring semester, the Council established the following five committees with the immediate task of conducting a situational analysis to determine what is versus what should be, based on evidence-based best practices and in alignment with the University’s Strategic Plan:

Campus Climate: The Council’s Campus Climate Committee is coordinating an institutional research project with Sue Rankin & Associates which includes the grassroots development of the campus climate assessment instrument, the interpretative analysis and practical application of the data to create and sustain a safe and supportive learning, working and living environment for everyone. Watch for more news on this project as we host focus groups and launch the survey in the spring.

Intercultural Intelligence, Pedagogies and Curriculum: The strategic focus of this committee is to address the need and desire to increase the intercultural competence of the university community through present and/or future professional development opportunities offered through the Center for Teaching and Advising (CTA) and the Human Resource Office of Equity and Inclusion. 

Strategic Planning, Evaluation and Accountability: This committee will work to support alignment, synergies and efficiencies of divisional level diversity action plans with the university’s strategic plan and applicable accountability measures that supports a culturally inclusive university culture. Conducting such evaluative reflections of lived institutional experience will form the basis for making policy and procedural recommendations to the President and Cabinet for continuous improvement.

Recruitment and Retention: This committee will identify and recommend evidence-based strategies to recruit and retain a diverse workforce (faculty, staff) and student body.

Domestic and International Cultural Worlds: This committee will serve as an advisory and consultative resource to institutional efforts designed to expand and strengthen strategic programmatic links and practical synergies between our campus-based, domestic diversity initiatives and the wide array of programs offered through the Center for Global Engagement.

Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) Collaboration Update

AVP Under-Represented Minority Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program: In collaborative partnership with the University of Washington this program seeks to promote pedagogical and institutional excellence through diversification of faculty and curriculum. Postdoctoral fellows from groups underrepresented among higher education faculty will spend two years at GU. This program is being launched this fall.

Productive Discomfort Faculty Group: In collaboration with the Center for Teaching and Advising this faculty work group reflects upon their instructional experience and critically examines methods and strategies designed to facilitate classroom discourse that encourages multiple perspectives informed by diverse social identities.

Intergroup Dialogue (IGD): In collaboration with the Division of Student Development, this program is designed for students, faculty and staff, to develop a common language and capacity for respectful dialogue across difference. The program was launched with two student cohort groups last academic year. IGD will be offered to staff and faculty this upcoming year.

IMPACT: Intercultural Multicultural Professionals Affecting Change Together (IMPACT) is a group of faculty and staff of color and their allies who host regularly scheduled luncheon conversations designed to encourage critical reflection on “hot topics” addressing inclusion and equity. The guiding principle is that “courageous conversations create caring communities” and can provide additional strategic insight into the challenges and solutions for effective intercultural communication.

Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Initiative: The IDI is an assessment instrument that measures intercultural competence. It is currently being utilized by the Student Development Division, in collaboration with the CDO, for its diagnostic and prescriptive powers to inform development strategies at the individual and group level that increases intercultural competence for both staff and students.

We are deeply grateful for how people, environments and tasks are synergistically lining up for a Greater Good in this area of our educational mission. As President McCulloh recently remarked, “following our University Mission, and fundamentally rooted in our relationship with God, let us all re-commit ourselves to the work of acting as individuals who are committed to achieving greater levels of real understanding, awareness, love and respect between people from different races, cultures and experiences in our community and our world”.