Sec I – Steering Committee Observations, Challenges, and Priority Recommendations
The Diversity Appraisal Steering Committee, having reviewed the unit appraisals and reports of external evaluators, offers a set of significant observations and challenges that capture how units and leadership have engaged with diversity. As a result of these insights, the Committee offers priority recommendations. We provide more detailed observations, examples of strong practice, challenges and recommendations for the University community throughout the report.
The Committee observes that the University of Washington has clear strengths:
- Despite the lack of clear rewards, almost all units, from departments to colleges and schools to the University as a whole, have undertaken initiatives to enhance diversity.
- An expansion of pre-college programs has contributed to building an educational pathway for a more diverse undergraduate student body.
- To advance the goals of preparing students for college, supporting economic development, and enhancing educational opportunity, many units are engaging in meaningful and sustained partnerships with diverse communities throughout the state.
- A number of units have undertaken sustained collaborative efforts to address issues of curriculum and climate and integrate diversity into their missions, values, and goals.
- Due to the sum of these efforts, the University is well positioned for the next stage of transformation in which diversity is increasingly integrated in the core missions of education and research.
The Committee has identified these diversity challenges for the University:
- There are multiple understandings and a lack of clarity about the meanings of terms such as “diversity,” “climate,” “underrepresented,” and “minority;” this lack of clarity extends to challenges conceptualizing diversity initiatives as inclusive practices.
- Implementation of institutional diversity goals remains uneven across units, due to lack of understanding and agreement about what practices, policies, and behaviors honor and support diversity as a core value.
- Improving climate remains a critical challenge at all levels of the University.
- There are few agreed-upon indicators and benchmarks for evaluating diversity initiatives.
- Many existing efforts suffer from isolation, lack of coordination and communication.
- There are no clear pathways to institutionalization, even for proven initiatives.
After assessing both strengths and challenges, the Committee offers the following recommendations:
- Administration: Set institutional priorities for diversity, and review policies about access and retention, admissions, hiring, benefits, promotion and tenure, and resource allocation in terms of those priorities.
- Assessment: Establish benchmarks and objectives consistent with institutional priorities for diversity.
- College readiness: Enhance the University’s ability to provide effective and coordinated outreach for the preparation of underrepresented students for postsecondary education in the State of Washington.
- Student access: Recognize and reward units that utilize effective approaches to student recruitment and admissions at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels.
- Student development and retention: Ensure that admissions policies, advising and mentoring, and access to majors and educational opportunities for all academic units encourage and support students to attain their educational objectives.
- Engagement with external communities: Continue to build, sustain, and coordinate relationships with diverse communities throughout the region to foster economic development, cultural vitality, and educational opportunities.
- Staff: Increase attention to climate issues for staff, recognize staff for their contributions to diversity, and assess the needs of staff with respect to diversity.
- Faculty: Set high expectations for diversifying the faculty at the school/college level, monitor progress, and recognize success in recruitment and retention.
- Curriculum: Ensure that students in all undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs graduate with the requisite knowledge and competencies related to diversity as defined by the field.
- Research: Support and promote research at UW to advance institutional diversity goals and knowledge about diversity in academic fields.
- Climate: Articulate how historical, structural, and behavioral dimensions of climate affect interactions and opportunities on campus and address the concerns of diverse faculty, staff, and students at every level of the University.
- Diversity as a value and objective: Engage the University community across all three campuses in discussion of defining and integrating diversity as an institutional and unit value and setting objectives for attaining diversity.