InclusiveVT initiatives report and recommendations


III.  InclusiveVT initiatives (prepared by K. DePauw) (report InclusiveVT 2)

In April 2015, Karen P. DePauw, Vice President and Dean for the Graduate Education (and member of the President’s Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council), was asked to serve as a “consultant” to InclusiveVT and to assist specifically with the analysis of the initiatives and to make recommendations.

During the spring semester and early summer, DePauw met with the Inclusion Coordinators, the interim Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity, and the Provost on a regular basis and the President and the chairs of each Caucus. During July, she met with individually with the senior administrators and unit leaders (26 of 28) who had been asked to and submitted three initiatives under the umbrella of InclusiveVT. The purpose of these meetings was to frame the conversation about inclusion and transformational change, to confirm the progress made on each initiatives and to discuss how the initiatives would be updated for continued progress. For some initiatives, it was determined that the initiative should become standard operating procedure in support of the mission of inclusion and diversity.  For more specific information about the initiatives, please see Summary initiatives with progress or Summary of initiatives with progress by unit.

To provide a context for the review, DePauw drew upon the typology of change and institutional transformation as developed by Eckel and Kezar (2003) in their book entitled Taking the Reins: Institutional Transformation in Higher Education from the American Council on Education series. The typology of change includes four quadrants based upon the extent of depth or pervasiveness of change: adjustment, isolated change, pervasive change and transformational change.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 4.10.11 PMThe approach was modified for use with InclusiveVT such that institutional transformation was the goal for Virginia Tech to become an inclusive and diverse university and that the other types of change were necessary and important in moving toward transformational change. In doing so, we acknowledged that transformation would alter the culture of the institution; would involve changes in policies, procedures, programs and people; would need to be deep and pervasive affecting the entire university; would occur over time; and would require intentionality to be successful.
Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 4.10.33 PM
In preparation for the July one-on-one meetings, the initiatives were reviewed by the President’s Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council, the Inclusion Coordinators, a small working group, and members of the broader community. Members of the Executive Council were asked to identify synergies among the initiatives, gaps or activities missing, and impact upon inclusion; 11 of 14 provided responses. The Inclusion Coordinators and the small working group were asked to review each initiative for its impact as well as collaborations and gaps; 8 of 10 responded. We also invited the university community to comment on each of the initiatives and we received 22+ responses. DePauw reviewed all responses and individually evaluated each initiative in preparation for her analysis and recommendations.

At its August meeting, DePauw shared her perspectives and analysis with the Executive Council through a presentation (attached) and gathered some additional suggestions and comments for inclusion in the report which is summarized below.  To see the presentation, click EC InclusiveVT change +.

Recommendations and Next Steps: Working document for 2015-2016

InclusiveVT 2.0 will build upon the foundation establish in year 1 using a modified version of the Cornell model that includes the President as the Chief Diversity Office, a President’s Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council (EC) co-chaired by the President and Provost and comprised of selected senior leaders, Inclusion Coordinators, community advisory groups, students and the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity. InclusiveVT 2.0 will incorporate the wealth of feedback and suggestions made by the university community such as the recommendations made at the September 2014 forum. These insights informed the first round of submitted initiatives review and will continue to be considered and prioritized in the InclusiveVT 2.0 effort.

In the upcoming year, VT will move very intentionally toward inclusion and university transformation, to embrace a “can do” approach and position VT as a “go to” inclusive and diverse university. The next steps include the following:
1. Continue with the original initiatives as updated and some recognized as established efforts to become standard operating procedures (SOP) and therefore institutionalized and ongoing. (See Summary initiatives with progress).  It is also important to recognize units for their previous and ongoing efforts beyond the initiatives and incorporate existing efforts into the InclusiveVT framework.  To explore existing initiatives and current programs, click here for InclusiveVT explorer.
2. Identify opportunities and institutionalize modifications of promising practices that have high impact for inclusion.
3. Establish university-wide efforts, collaborations based upon existing activities and the initiatives, and create specific recommendations to senior leadership.
4. Establish processes for securing financial support for initiatives through typical budget process as well as limited one time resources for time-sensitive activities and efforts
5. Encourage new efforts or initiatives to emerge organically; encourage “futurisktic” initiatives that have some risk of failure but high rewards for success
6. Further define structure and function of InclusiveVT (e.g., VPID, Exec Council, Inclusion Coordinators,++)

Selected activities for immediate short term actions

There are a number of activities that might be limited in scope but can have a significant impact upon the sense of community and inclusivity of VT. Among these are (but not limited to) the following:
1. Secure and centralize as appropriate funding for university-wide cultural events including graduation celebrations, welcome receptions.
2. Change terminology of non-resident alien (NRA) to non U.S. citizen or international citizen in VT documents and reports.
3. Distinguish between international and U.S. demographic data; understand key differences for data reporting and community building
4. Enhance communication with applicants especially proactively communication with qualified diverse applicants for positions at VT
5. Make translation (through Google translate?) available on VT websites
6. Develop strategies to make events accessible
7. Provide sign language interpretation at all major University events
8. Change symbols regarding disability (wheelchair) logo from static to dynamic visual

Recommendations (not in priority order):
1. President’s office to purchase Tim Wise’s book entitled “Dear White America” for all senior leaders and to hold discussion at Executive Council and President’s academic council (consider book readings about Inclusion and Diversity standard practice for senior leadership)
2. Regular dialogue on inclusion and diversity at President’s academic council, Provost’s academic affairs council, BOV academic affairs meeting, and others as appropriate. A goal would be to inform and empower leadership to create an open space and place for inclusion throughout VT
3. Create and increase education and training programs for various constituencies (faculty, staff, students, administrators) re implicit bias, micro-aggressions, privilege and more.
4. Invite visiting ‘scholar’ for a semester to design and implement, review and improve institutional practices around inclusion and diversity
5. Design and implement a messaging training program for communicating with alumni, donors and others (e.g., using interactive theatre approach)
6. Develop guidelines for bias free language for use in official communication
7. Develop guidelines and visuals representing inclusion and diversity for use throughout the university
8. Implement “search advocate” approach to recruitment; start with CVM and extend beyond
9. Recruit and retain faculty, staff and students (undergraduate and graduate) of diverse background; secure funding for professorships and graduate student fellowships
10. Fully develop “inclusive pedagogy” programs designed for faculty by faculty for use in courses (face-to-face, on-line, hybrid, etc.) with attention to accessibility; start with CALS and expand. Provost office could facilitate.
11. Identify faculty whose scholarship focuses on inclusion and diversity and recognize and engage their expertise as a resource for InclusiveVT
12. Standardize statement on position announcement and job description to recruit and hire with commitment to inclusion. For example,
a. “Learning from the experiences that have shaped Virginia Tech as an institution, we acknowledge those aspects of our legacy that reflected bias and exclusion. Successful candidates should adopt and practice the Principles of Community as fundamental to Virginia Tech’s on-going efforts to increase access and inclusion and to create a dynamic community that nurtures learning and growth for all of its members.”
13. Develop descriptive narratives that could be used for grant proposals regarding commitment to inclusion
14. Enhance accessibility of websites and digital resources
15. Develop and implement communication plans including use of social media for disseminating message about InclusiveVT
16. Leverage resources of NCR to provide connections between citizens in NCR with VT (including Blacksburg)
17. Ensure that InclusiveVT activities include faculty, students, and staff throughout the various geographical locations
18. Regularly scheduled and well-advertised events around inclusion and diversity easily available
19. Record and interview keynote speakers on inclusion and diversity as resource for InclusiveVT
20. Policy and procedure review by each senior leadership area to be more inclusive
21. Establish network for recruitment, REUs, mentoring programs, engagement efforts to share promising practices
22. Create opportunities for students (undergraduate, graduate, professional) to engage in conversation about inclusion and diversity
23. Actively incorporate inclusion and diversity into the curriculum at all levels
24. Demonstrated commitment to inclusion thru
• Allocation of resources
• Tenure/promotion, FARs
• Merit increase, annual reviews
• International partnerships and agreements
• And more

Recommendation regarding responsibilities of the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity regarding InclusiveVT 2.0 efforts:
• work directly with Inclusion coordinators and EC
• work with University Relations regarding visuals and language guidelines
• keep list of “markers of change”
• compile and share networks for engagement with K-12
• compile and share networks for REUs and other recruitment strategies
• compile and engage faculty scholars of diversity and inclusion
• coordinate assessment efforts
• prepare “annual report” about inclusiveVT
• create and manage data dashboard
• programs and initiatives in interactive format; infographic
• communication strategies and social media
• establish relationships with community constituencies external to VT
• serve as a national voice for InclusiveVT

Recommendation regarding structure and function of InclusiveVT 2.0

President – Chief Diversity Officer
President and Provost – co-chairs of President’s Inclusion and
Diversity Executive Council
Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity – daily operations and efforts of
InclusiveVT 2.0, works closely with Executive Council and serves as
Collaborator with Inclusion Coordinators
Executive Council – members of the senior leadership for the university to
provide transformational leadership to institutionalize inclusivity of
VT and all of its locations, operations and constituencies
Inclusion Coordinators – representatives of various constituency groups to
serve as liaisons, consultants, guides, bridge builders, idea generators
and advocates for inclusion and diversity
Advisory Group – Caucus leaders, student representatives, and a CEOD
representative work with Inclusion Coordinators to offer updates about community concerns, and work together to identify resources and potential for impact
Advisory Community – members both within and outside the Virginia Tech
community who choose to provide feedback on inclusion and diversity efforts

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