December 14, 2017

 

Updates from Senior Leaders on Student Concerns

1.  Diversity Training

We continue to move forward in support of the University's commitment to professional development and training opportunities and initiatives for its faculty, staff, and students. The UVM President and the Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs are hosting and sponsoring the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration, Education and Learning Series (January 23 - 28, 2018) in partnership with Student Activities and the Larner College of Medicine.  The featured keynote speaker is Dr. Marc Lamont Hill with other speakers and events to be announced shortly. The annual Blackboard Jungle Symposium has also been announced for March 22 and 23, 2018.  This year's theme is "The University: A Sanctuary or an Arena? Fostering Inclusive and Difficult Conversations," with keynote speaker Jalani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University and staff writer for the New York Times. Now in its 11th year, this two-day symposium features presentations, workshops, and panels on topics such as: diversity, race, spirituality, intersectionality, power and privilege, social justice research, gender identity and expression, and the challenges of teaching diversity classes to name a few. 

Professional Development and Training classes for faculty and staff continue to be offered on a regular schedule. The following classes have been offered since September 2017 with more scheduled in January 2018 and beyond: 

More information about these important events and programs can be found on the Human Resources, Diversity, and Multicultural Affairs Office website.  

2. Hire faculty of color

The Office of the Provost collaborated with the College of Arts and Sciences, the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) Program, and the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources Diversity Multicultural Affairs (HRDMA) in sponsoring a retreat facilitated by a recognized scholar on race and relations. A report on the outcome of the retreat is in preparation.

This initiative adds to existing retention programs aimed at faculty in general (e.g., Faculty Mentoring Program, Faculty Development Program) and faculty of color in particular: (i) activities associated with the Henderson Fellow's Program; (ii) events hosted by the Center for Cultural Pluralism, social gatherings, cultural events, etc).

We remind our students that the percentage of faculty of color on tenure track is already proportional to the percentage of students of color on campus.

The Office of the Provost has evaluated our faculty recruitment and onboarding practices, more specifically the effectiveness of the changes implemented since 2015 aimed at increasing the pool of diversity candidates. We have consulted with recognized scholars who research diversity in higher education.  We have redoubled our study of the literature on this important topic. This inward and outward analysis has served to reinforce the importance of best practices adopted over the past two years, as well as identify areas for continued improvement and more focused attention. The product of this exercise, (Strategies to Diversify the UVM Faculty), is summarized in Section 4 (Qualified Professors).

3. D1 /D2 Courses

The DCRC has worked with the NoNames for Justice collective as well as the SGA to approve a student representative to sit on the committee as a full voting member.  The student organizations developed their own process for how the representative will be chosen and their responsibilities.  The DCRC fully supports their membership and has found working with the student organizations already to be a tremendously valuable experience. Student membership is expected.

As previously stated in the November 17, 2017 updates from Senior Leaders, the DCRC  has spent several years looking at the range of diversity courses offered across campus.  The work done in the DCRC's monthly meetings includes evaluating and approving all courses with D1 and D2 designations and also assessing requests for the approval of transfer courses to count towards this requirement on an individual basis.  This year, DCRC has received the institutional support to implement a campus wide review schedule for all D1 and D2 courses (originally proposed in 2010, putting the infrastructure in place to properly vet, record and review courses has taken time).  With the assistance of the Registrar and the Office of Institutional Research, several hundred courses that fulfill the diversity requirements as well as the numbers of students currently taking these courses have been identified.  The next step is to work with departments to see how many of these courses are/will be offered on a regular basis.  By the conclusion of this year, we will set into motion a review schedule whereby every approved D1 and D2 course will be scheduled for review on a 5-year-rotation.  This was the original intention of the Faculty Senate when the requirement was introduced.  

Current efforts to improve and expand faculty training in teaching, particularly teaching of D1 and D2 courses, includes designing activities tailored to the specific needs and concerns of the instructors. With this in mind, we are  undertaking the following: 

  1. The Office of the Provost in collaboration with CTL and HRDMA, will be sending out a brief survey to the faculty to identify their preferred topics and training modalities; 
  2. In collaboration with the deans, the Office of the Provost has begun collecting faculty input on ·classroom climate issues.  Based on initial input from CAS faculty, Jim Vigoreaux, Jenn Papillo and Joe Russell are coordinating efforts to deliver the desired training and guidance.

Brian Reed, Associate Provost for Teaching and Learning, has met with the SGA's Executive Committee and its Academic Affairs Committee to discuss the Assessment Initiative, including the assessment of D1 and D2 courses.  The discussions have gone well.

4.  Qualified professors

As previously stated in the November 17, 2017 updates from Senior Leaders, the Office of the Provost and the academic deans have discussed the following strategies to diversify the UVM Faculty:

  1. Implement and enforce a Workforce Diversity Recruitment and Retention Plan in each academic unit.

  2. Examine the unit's past faculty recruitment practices and evaluate their effectiveness.

  3. Track the effectiveness of offers and hiring strategies with an on-time assessment of yield data (including opportunity hires, dual career hires). Create annual report of search committee activities and outcomes.

  4. Establish formal relationships with other institutions or organizations to create opportunities to interact with and recruit future faculty from diverse backgrounds (e.g. postdoctoral programs, exchange programs, summer research appointments).

  5. Encourage and actively support faculty networking (e.g. travel funds) at places and events where they will interact with, or learn about, diverse candidates.

  6. Develop unit-wide or department-specific structured relationships with industry or private sector partners (including Board of Advisors) that are leveraged to recruit prospective applicants from diverse backgrounds.

  7. Participate or collaborate with other institutions in a structured graduate or postdoctoral program that aims to increase diversity in the professoriate.

  8. Develop and implement strategic initiatives to recruit recent alumni.

  9. Provide incentives to faculty who direct efforts at securing funding and advancing diversity initiatives.

  10. Formally evaluate and recognize a faculty member's contributions to campus diversity goals and initiatives.

  11. Leverage unit efforts with institutional efforts and those of other units. Share best practices.

An examination of the practices of Faculty Search Committees has resulted in the following recommendations:

  1. Make statement on commitment to diversity a requirement of the application process.

  2. Instruct search committees to evaluate the diversity statement early in the review process and to assign it appropriate weight in the evaluation matrix.

  3. Demand accountability by requiring search committees to provide progress reports at faculty and department meetings.

  4. Use the interview process to question candidates about their experience with, and commitment to diversity and their plans to contribute to our diversity goals.

  5. Share literature on diversity in higher education.

  6. Create a transition and mentoring plan as part of the recruitment process.

5.  Hate Crimes labeled as such  

Jes Kraus and Annie Stevens met with the Black Student Union (more about the library threat) but had a good conversation about Freedom of Speech and how a hate crime gets determined. They also discussed the processes for resolving policy violations involving intent of bias. A meeting with Alianza Latinx group was scheduled for the Thursday after Thanksgiving about the same topic. They have also reached out to the Asian Student Union but have not heard back from them as of yet.

For more information about Bias, Hate Crimes, and Discrimination, Harassment, etc. go to the following link:  https://www.uvm.edu/deanofstudents/definitions

6.  Fraternity and Sorority Life mandatory training  

Fraternity and Sorority Life mandatory training is moving along. A shift in leadership for our Fraternity and Sorority Life is currently taking place, however this should not impact the training that has been planned.

7.  Student to be expelled

As previously stated in the November 17, 2017 updates from Senior Leaders, the student who was found responsible for taking the Black Lives Matter flag last Fall was appropriately referred to the student conduct process, was found responsible for his actions, and received appropriate sanctions consistent with incidents of the same nature. Sanctions for similar actions typically include probation or suspension, community service, and educational projects as appropriate based on the context of the incident. 

8.  Funding

As previously stated on November 17, 2017 updates from Senior Leaders, the following two initiatives are underway and this important work will continue.  

  1. SGA Funding- SGA is passing legislation that creates more funding for the identity-centered clubs. They are also putting mandatory training in place for senators and executive leaders of organizations.
  2. Related to this item is funding student events and activities that have become larger institutional events- Work is being done to determine which events may need support and the best way to support them.

9. Donations to ALANA-based organizations

  1. The Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the President and CEO of the UVM Foundation are working to make University Web pages more clearly call attention to giving options and funds related to diversity and inclusion efforts.  Staff from both offices are developing content that will be placed on University Web pages dedicated to diversity and multicultural affairs.  The content will inform prospective donors on how to give in support of our efforts, most specifically to give to support students.  Identity centers including the Interfaith Center, LGBTQA Center, Mosaic Center for Students of Color, and the Women's Center home web pages now have direct links to the UVM Foundation for immediate giving.
  2. The UVM Foundation will also enhance its Web site by adding a call-out that directs donors to learn more about giving to support diversity and inclusion efforts.  This more prominent placement will sit alongside campaign priorities related to investing in student financial aid, faculty professorships and chairs, academic programs, and new or enhanced facilities.  The Foundation will also add or enhance diversity and inclusion giving opportunities through annual giving strategies.
  3. The President and CEO of the UVM Foundation and the President of the Student Government Association will discuss the current fundraising campaign and how fundraising works at UVM. They will also discuss SGA and their role in this work, and discuss ways to engage with other students and student leadership. They will identify an SGA Open Forum during which the Foundation President will present on fund raising, the campaign, and student support.

10. Naming Buildings 

As previously stated, George H. Perkins Hall will keep that designation.  Please see the October 18, 2017 Communication from UVM Responding to Student Concerns: Part 2, for details.  At present, UVM leaders continue to work collaboratively to establish criteria and processes for receiving, assessing, and recommending to the Board of Trustees, requests for renaming buildings and facilities.  More information on this matter will be posted as it develops. 

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PUBLISHED

12-14-2017
Krista Lynn Malaney