Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Update from President Wooten

Over the summer I wrote to you about the steps I am taking as we continue our work to foster real and meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion at Simmons. Today, as we see more protesters asking for justice for Breonna Taylor, both locally and across the nation, it reminds us of how critical our efforts are — as Simmons faculty, staff, students, and alumnae/i — in advancing a more inclusive and just society.

Since my last communication, I have been meeting weekly with the co-chairs of the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — Assistant Dean Gary Bailey and Dr. Sharron Credle — along with the Organizational Culture, Inclusion & Equity Office (OCIE) team.

I wanted to share what we have been working on and let you know that we will be issuing a press release — as we also want the external community to know the importance we are placing on this work. In addition, through Q&As, both Gary and Sharron offer more details about how they think and do this work.

We will ask Council members to attend monthly meetings to advise, identify, and implement activities that uphold and enhance the core values of the University and our commitment to Inclusive Excellence, fostering greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and accountability.

In addition, we will ask members to co-chair one of the following sub-committees, collaborating with faculty and staff from across Simmons:

  • Leadership
  • Faculty/Teaching
  • Staff Engagement
  • Community Engagement
  • Student Experience
  • Alumnae/i Relations

The Council will work with OCIE and additional internal and external partners to bring relevant training, guest speakers, community reads, and other initiatives to Simmons to help broaden awareness of issues related to violence, racial injustice, DEI, and to involve the community in these vital conversations.

Sample programming includes:

  • A “voter suppression, then and now” lunch and learn seminar
  • A community meeting focused on Gwen Ifill’s legacy today
  • Seminars on the experiences of students of color on predominantly white campuses
  • Campus climate surveys
  • Diversity history month events
  • Collaborations with the Simmons Institute for Inclusive Leadership
  • Enhanced communication and promotion of DEI initiatives, events and resources
  • Undoing racism workshops and leadership and professional development opportunities for students, faculty, and staff related to:
    • Self-knowledge of identities and strengths
    • Well-being
    • Equity
    • Social justice
    • Collaborative and inclusive practices
    • Citizenship and service
  • College and school-specific activities
  • Faculty-specific DEI training and resources for pedagogy, including workshops on inclusive excellence, gender pronouns, and cultural competence.

I also wanted to call your attention to the thoughtful statements each of our colleges — the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, the College of Computational, Organizational, and Information Sciences, the College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice, and the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities — have created in this moment of racial reckoning, a testament to the ongoing DEI work taking place across Simmons.

We will provide a deeper dive into the Council, as well as DEI activities in the Colleges and the Simmons Institute for Inclusive Leadership, at the upcoming community meeting on Friday, October 16 from 1 to 2:30 pm. In the interim, please email [email protected] with any questions or ideas.

President Lynn Perry Wooten

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