Diversity and Inclusion Update #4

January 26, 2017

Simmons academic campus

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

This week, Lisa Smith-McQueenie, Cheryl Howard, and I are sharing our fourth update on work underway to reach our goal of inclusive excellence.

As we start a new year, a new semester, and a new age in America, let us recommit to interpersonal engagement and to taking an active part in the work required to make Simmons a more inclusive community where all members feel valued.

FY ’17 Diversity & Inclusion Goals

Last summer, eight goals were identified as follows:

  • Develop the Philosophy and Mission of Diversity & Inclusion at Simmons
  • Implement Diversity & Inclusion Training and Professional Development
  • Launch a Bias Response Protocol
  • Start curriculum enhancement
  • Support diversity in faculty and staff hiring
  • Support diversity in student recruitment
  • Propose a Multicultural Center
  • Implement a comprehensive communication plan

This fall, we made notable strides toward achieving these goals, having started necessary work on all eight of them.

Highlights of the work completed thus far include:

  • Development of our Statement on Inclusive Excellence
  • Participation of the President’s Operating Team in three-day Diversity & Inclusion Training
  • Participation of deans and senior leaders in two-and-a-half-day Diversity & Inclusion Training
  • Developed and offered professional development (“Teaching for Inclusive Excellence” one-day seminar) to all full-time faculty from November to March (required)
  • Offered online diversity & inclusion training modules to all staff (required)
  • Offered online diversity & inclusion training to all who are hiring (required)
  • Implemented the Bias Response Protocol pilot roll-out
  • Implemented communication plan

Faculty Professional Development – Diversity & Inclusion

Since November, 90 faculty have participated in the “Teaching for Inclusive Excellence” seminar designed and presented by our Center for Excellence in Teaching in partnership with Romney & Associates.

Faculty participants reported they experienced “good discussions about diversity” that offered “useful insights…on creating an inclusive classroom.” They reported an appreciation for “conversations with colleagues from [their] disciplines about curriculum” and “translating the concepts into direct teaching practice.” The vast majority of participants reported they found the pre-readings helpful.

Additional sessions, scheduled for March 16, 22, and 23, are at full capacity with a waitlist. We will schedule more dates in 2017 to accommodate all full-time faculty and we are planning for the next phase of diversity & inclusion professional development.

Staff Diversity & Inclusion Training

On January 18, important required training in several areas for staff and faculty was launched, including training in diversity & inclusion. We hope these modules will inform and be a catalyst for conversation as we engage with one another to address the dynamic, evolving issues of our community and our world.

Student Training Opportunities

On Friday, January 27, 2017, the Like Minds Coalition will host the 10th Annual Multicultural Leadership Conference from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in S183. This year, in conjunction with Student Life and Diversity & Inclusion, we are including opportunities for students to learn more about inclusive excellence at Simmons and the role of student leaders in deliberately enacting inclusive leadership through their various roles on campus.

All undergraduate and gradutate students are welcome to attend. Please contact likeminds@simmons.edu for more information.

The conference will be immediately followed by the spring semester Colors of Success Welcome Back Reception hosted by the Like Minds Coalition at 5:00 p.m. Open to all.

Bias Response Protocol

As noted in previous communications, we are implementing a Bias Response Protocol to inform, instruct, and support those who have been affected by bias. Resources and referrals will be offered, as appropriate.

Members of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Council (DIAC) hosted a community meeting on December 8, 2016 to launch the protocol and discuss rollout of a six-month pilot implementation.

An online bias incident report form has been developed as a starting point in the protocol process. Should you submit it, you will be contacted by a Community Advocate from the Bias Response Team who will support you in the next steps of the protocol. If you believe you have experienced or encountered bias, harassment, or discrimination, you may also contact a member of the Student Life or Residence Life Professional Staff, an academic dean, a Public Safety Officer, or Bias Response Team Community Advocate. An anonymous report of a bias related incident(s) may also be submitted via EthicsPoint.

Lisa and Cheryl have begun meeting with key stakeholders and appropriate adjudicating bodies across campus to ensure seamless integration with existing protocols, policies, and practices. Protocol presentations and “workshops” will be conducted throughout the spring semester.

Following the pilot phase, we will assess progress and implement any necessary changes before the formal launch in fall 2017.

As we continue to work on these important goals, we are so heartened to see a genuine commitment across the Simmons community to make progress on becoming a truly warm, welcoming, inclusive community that appreciates, values, and respects the humanity, dignity, diversity, and contributions of all its members.