University of Vermont

Former President Daniel Mark Fogel

Advancing Diversity at UVM September 10, 2003

From: Daniel Mark Fogel, President and Andrew John Bramley, Provost

To: UVM Faculty & Staff

Re: New Dean of the College of Medicine

Date: September 10, 2003

In the most recent draft of the Strategic Action Plan for the University of Vermont--a draft that has been vetted thoroughly campus-wide and that is available through links on the President's and Provost's web pages--the University sets forth seven strategic goals, placing one of those goals first and foremost: "Create a diverse community." The draft plan identifies as the first action step under this goal the development and implementation of "plans throughout the institution to recruit and retain faculty, staff and students from under-represented groups."

Last spring, in a broadcast email, we announced to the campus the creation of a President's Task Force on Racial Diversity. In that broadcast, we said that we would in due course announce initiatives designed to advance the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students of color, to improve the campus climate for racial minorities, and to develop, for consideration by appropriate faculty bodies, proposals designed to infuse diversity into the curriculum.

Acting on recommendations of the Task Force, we are launching five key initiatives aimed at the promotion of racial diversity and multicultural understanding. It is important that the entire campus community know what these undertakings are, for only by promoting transparency about what we are trying to do and by working together will we be able to make genuine progress--and to hold ourselves accountable for doing so.

  • First, the University will take every affirmative measure to build increasingly diverse pools of qualified applicants for admission to undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs and will report annually to the campus on its success in doing so.
  • Second, the University will take every affirmative measure to build increasingly diverse pools of qualified candidates for faculty and staff positions, and will report annually to the campus on its success in doing so.
  • Third, the University will take concerted measures to ensure that ALANA students, faculty, and staff are retained at rates commensurate with the retention rates of non-ALANA students and faculty.
  • Fourth, the University will take specific measures to improve the campus climate for persons of color, beginning with a well-designed survey instrument, to be administered this academic year, that will allow us to establish a baseline on various measures of campus climate and to establish metrics for measuring progress.
  • Fifth, the University will seek to achieve, through appropriate faculty bodies and shared governance processes, curricular reforms that will ensure that all recipients of bachelor's degrees have had substantive academic experiences that promote multicultural understanding and the competencies, skills, and knowledge requisite for work and citizenship in an increasingly diverse society.

The action plans to pursue our aspirations for a genuinely diverse University are under continuing development and review, but several points are clear at the outset. Making sure that these aspirations become engrained in our institutional culture, known by all and supported by the vast majority, is a key to success. We can only succeed by working collaboratively, bottom-up as well as top-down, to achieve shared goals. Even working together, these aspirations will not be easy to fulfill. They are stretches, but that very "stretch" indicates the importance and value that we assign to them. Accordingly, we will hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable for bending our best efforts to fulfill the aspirations we have for a diverse, inclusive learning community.

Finally, as we noted in the March broadcast, the University's commitment to diversity includes race but also encompasses characteristics and experiences apart from race. We already have a President's Commission on the Status of Women. We will soon appoint a President's Commission on Campus Climate for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Members of the University Community. Once that body is in place, we will create an over-arching President's Commission on Diversity and Inclusion that will include representatives from the Task Force on Racial Diversity, the other two Commissions, and at large members. The Commission on Diversity and Inclusion will seek to integrate to the extent feasible the findings and recommendations of all three groups, will promote campus-wide, collaborative responses to identified challenges, and will consider and address issues of diversity and inclusion embracing race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, differences of ability, and religious background and affiliation.

We are very grateful to the students, staff, and faculty of the Task Force on Racial Diversity, which met intensively throughout the spring semester as a committee of the whole and in four subcommittees focused on recruitment, retention, campus climate, and curriculum. The Task Force will reconvene this fall to continue its work. Announcements about the creation and charge of the LGBT Commission and the President's Commission on Diversity and Inclusion will be forthcoming in mid-September. In the meantime, along with our colleagues on the President's Task Force on Racial Diversity, we solicit your comments, suggestions, ideas, and support for this most critical work ahead.

Last modified October 05 2008 08:55 AM

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