In 2017, Westminster adopted its first diversity statement, demonstrating the university’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion across the institution. This statement is our social contract, and our strategic plan is our vehicle for making this statement and our commitment to an inclusive Westminster a reality.
After a series of discussions and brainstorming, the steering committee identified four major priorities to advance the university at an institution-wide level.
- Build the university’s infrastructure.
- Develop strategies for the recruitment, enrollment/onboarding, and retention of faculty, staff, and students.
- Enhance students’ experiential learning of diversity through curricular and co-curricular programs.
- Expand professional learning experiences and offerings.
In 2014, as part of our Five-Year Strategic Plan, Westminster set a goal to develop a campus-wide diversity plan. Our first step was to clearly define what we meant by "diversity" and "inclusion." Through campus input, focus groups, and feedback, we developed a Diversity Statement. This statement spoke to our concern for equity, respect, and social justice. It outlined important constructs, definitions, and a history of exclusion that our campus needed to know. And it made a commitment to Inclusive Excellence—to weave diversity and inclusion into our policies, practices, and behaviors; to make excellence inclusive for all; and to create a more inclusive Westminster.
Led by strategic planning co-chairs, the diversity strategic planning process worked with two groups, the Institutional Steering Committee and the Diversity Engagement Team, to ensure that the greater campus community was included. The steering committee was charged with brainstorming, researching, and developing university-wide goals and objectives for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion across the university. The engagement team, which included leaders from across the university, worked on a smaller scale to develop specific goals and objectives for academic colleges, schools, and units.
As part of the blueprint for the Diversity Strategic Planning process, Westminster worked to build a strong foundation, developing ideas and actions items. During the 2016–17 academic year, the university focused on establishing its diversity statement, strengthening its Diversity Council, and forming the Diversity Engagement Team to better support and prepare institutional leaders for diversity strategic leadership. With a more solid foundation, the university utilized Daryl Smith’s four domains or dimensions as a tool to generate ideas, assess gaps and opportunities, and map goals and action items. These four domains represent a reframing of how an institution operates through a diversity lens:
- Access and Success – The participation and success of underrepresented and/or minoritized students
- Climate and Intergroup Relations – The perceptions and experiences of faculty, staff, and students and how they interact across cultural differences
- Education and Scholarship – Academic excellence, learning, and scholarship that occurs on campus
- Institutional Viability and Vitality – Building and sustaining institutional capacity for advancing diversity and inclusion
Beginning Stages: 2012–2015
- Various workgroups and teams formulate goals and objectives for a diversity plan.
- Faculty also draft language for a diversity statement that is later reviewed, edited, and sent through the approval process.
- Further development of the diversity plans is stalled, but records are kept and shared with the chief diversity officer in 2016.
October 2016–August 2017
- The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the Diversity Council partner to develop the university's first diversity statement.
- The Diversity Engagement Team (DET) is formed.
- The Westminster University Board of Trustees adopt the Diversity Statement.
- Diversity Strategic Plan (DSP) co-chairs are appointed.
- The DET reviews the framework and process for the DSP.
- DET liaisons present the framework to their units or schools and work with them (and leaders) to develop unit-specific diversity plans.
- The Institutional Steering Committee is formed.
- The steering committee has its first meeting and reviews the framework for the DSP.
December 2017–May 2018
- DET leaders develop unit-specific plans working with the DSP co-chair.
- The steering committee generates and narrows down ideas, develops themes, and selects institutional priorities and action items—infrastructure; professional learning; curricular and co-curricular; and recruitment, enrollment/onboarding, and retention.
- Some of these priorities will support unit-specific plans.
- Utilizing the institutional priorities action items, DSP co-chairs identify campus partners who would play an important role in executing the priorities.
- Units and schools continue to work on finalizing plans.
- Unit plans are drafted for final review.
All university units are involved in the diversity strategic plan process and have developed their own unit plans. These units are involved in academics, student affairs, administration, employment relations, information technology, campus resources, and more.
Specific units with diversity and inclusion plans include:
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Finance and Administration
- Gore School of Business
- Honors College
- Institutional Advancement
- President’s Office
- Provost’s Office
- Risk Management and Legal
- Westminster College of Arts and Sciences
- School of Education
- School of Nursing and Health Sciences
- Student Affairs