Community Culture Redesign: Diversity and Inclusion Update

October 20, 2016

Simmons cupola against a blue sky with clouds

A message from President Helen Drinan, Vice President for Communications, Diversity & Inclusion Cheryl Howard, and Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion Lisa Smith-McQueenie


Leadership Team Professional Development

The Deans, the Operating Team, and other senior leaders in a variety of College roles participated in diversity and inclusion professional development/training with the completion of a second, multi-day session facilitated by Romney Associates, Inc. in late September.

Faculty Professional Development

Our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Romney Associates, Inc. have partnered to design "Teaching for Inclusive Excellence," an engaging, research-based, and collaborative one-day training seminar for full-time faculty to address issues of diversity and inclusion. Through an inclusive excellence framework, faculty will work collaboratively to review, share, and discuss practical teaching and course design strategies, drawing from current research and their own experiences and expertise. The training will give faculty context and tools to create courses with more diverse content, create an inclusive learning environment, and facilitate difficult conversations on critical issues.

Deans, Faculty Senate, Diversity & Inclusion Action Council (DIAC) faculty, and other faculty have reviewed the "Teaching for Inclusive Excellence" content outline and teaching goals. There will be eight sessions offered to accommodate 160 faculty. The schedule will be repeated next year to accommodate additional full-time faculty. Sessions will be offered:

  • Monday, November 28, 2016 
  • Friday, December 2, 2016 
  • Monday January 9, 2017 
  • Tuesday January 10, 2017 
  • Wednesday January 11, 2017 
  • Thursday, March 16, 2017 
  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017 
  • Thursday, March 23, 2017

Details about sign-up will be shared next week.

Employee Diversity and Inclusion Online Training

Online training addressing diversity and inclusion developed by Campus Answers will be available for all Simmons employees, on-campus or online, beginning in mid-November. There are four modules and each module takes between 20 to 50 minutes to complete, if you want to finish in a single session. Sarah Miller, Lisa Smith-McQueenie, and Cheryl Howard have completed the four modules and they believe "there is definitely worth and value to them, despite the fact that they are introductory and passive." This winter, Sarah, Lisa, and Cheryl will focus on follow-up opportunities for employees to pursue in order to further our collective "journey" to inclusive excellence.

The four online Campus Answers modules are:

  • Diversity Benefits for Higher Education Employees 
  • Respect and Inclusion Series: The Power of Respectful Language 
  • Respect and Inclusion Series: Transition to Respect 
  • Respect and Inclusion Series: Uncovering Implicit Bias 

Details for participating will be shared next week.

Bias Response Protocol

We are implementing a Bias Response Protocol (BRP) to inform, instruct, and support those who have been affected by bias. Additionally, the BRP is designed to educate and raise awareness in our community about bias and hate incidents that detract from our goal of an inclusive community that is affirming of all members. A draft of the Bias Response Protocol has been shared with many constituencies. Lisa and Cheryl hosted nine feedback sessions with faculty, staff, Staff Council, Faculty Senate, DIAC, student leaders, and Student Government Association (SGA) between 10/13 – 10/19. The final draft of the BRP will incorporate input from these important sessions. When the draft is complete, implementation activities will commence with a target launch date in early December.

Hiring Staff and Faculty

Talent and Human Capital Strategy (THCS) has identified five new online vehicles that reach more diverse audiences. They are AsiansinHigherEd.com, BlacksinHigherEd.com, HispanicsinHigherEd.com, LGBTinHigherEd.com and VeteransinHigherEd.com. All jobs posted on the Simmons website now, and in the future, will be posted to these diverse sites. THCS has budgeted funds for this expanded posting.

There are two online Campus Answers modules which can be of help in thinking about how to develop a more diverse candidate pool. Sarah Miller has reviewed both modules that will be available to employees in mid-November. They are:

  • Interviewing for Higher Education Hiring Committees
  • Interviewing Higher Education Staff Candidates
  • Details for participating will be shared next week.
  • Communications

SGA invited students and the community to discuss diversity and inclusion at the College on two days this fall. The 10th annual Colors of Success multicultural program and dinner saw the largest turnout in recent years as new and returning students and faculty and staff came together to celebrate and examine diversity at Simmons. The Simmons Voice October 6th issue reported on Colors of Success and on diversity and inclusion/Ten Demands work from the summer and plans for the fall. The Board of Trustees heard an update on summer and fall activities that support our goals of inclusive excellence at their October 20th meeting.

We have been very busy this fall as we energized our focus on diversity and inclusion at Simmons. Good progress has been made, yet we know we have so much more to do. We will provide our third update on these important plans and programs on December 1st. Please look for it.

As we work on these important initiatives, it is heartwarming to know there is a genuine commitment across the Simmons community to make significant progress on becoming a truly warm, welcoming, inclusive community that appreciates, values, and respects the humanity, dignity, diversity, and contributions of all its members.