Sec II – Appraising Diversity

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II. Overview: Appraising Diversity

We will become an academic community that mirrors the varied faces of our society. The challenges of our time require the energy and ideas of all our people. We cannot afford to leave out the creativity and innovations of any segment of our society. But beyond this practical argument, equality of opportunity is a matter of simple justice.

It’s the right thing to do, and this University will do it.

President Mark Emmert
Come Together Washington, October 15, 2004

The following Diversity Appraisal Report provides a summary of diversity initiatives at the three campuses of the University of Washington. Synthesizing over 150 individual reports by University departments and units, the report underscores the effectiveness of the work we have done and points out directions for next steps.

Scope and Process of the Diversity Appraisal—Phase I

Seeking to know more concretely how diversity is addressed across the three campuses of the University, President Lee Huntsman issued a charge to all units in December 2003, requesting a diversity appraisal. For the appraisal, diversity is defined as “race, gender, disability, class, sexual identity/orientation, religion, age, ethnicity, culture, region/geography, and indigenous status.” Vice President and Vice Provost for Diversity Nancy “Rusty” Barceló convened a steering committee that developed three core questions to guide these reviews:

  1. How is diversity a visible and active part of your unit?
  2. What are the specific ways that diversity is integrated into your academic mission in regard to your curricula, your undergraduate and graduate students, your faculty, and your staff?
  3. What are the ways in which you have structured your unit so that diversity is institutionalized as part of your criteria for success?

Units were asked to address these questions in relation to the following categories:

  • Student Access and Opportunities
  • Student Development and Retention
  • Engagement with the External Community
  • Staff and Administrative Diversity
  • Faculty Diversity
  • Curriculum
  • Research
  • Climate

These categories provide the organizing principle for the following report, although categories of Staff and Administrative Diversity and Curriculum and Research have been divided here for more focused analysis.

In May 2004, UW commissioned Dr. Christine Cress, Associate Professor of Postsecondary, Adult and Continuing Education Program, Portland State University, to provide an external evaluation of the Diversity Appraisal reports (see Appendix I). Cress reports that “[i]n spite of the legal challenges and confusion presented by the passage of I-200, it is apparent that institutional strides to become an intellectually diverse and integrated university have been made. Enclaves of individuals have responded with a renewed creativity and enthusiasm for ensuring a pluralistic university through community outreach, curricular integration and scholarship, and programmatic support for students, staff, and faculty.”

The unit diversity appraisals, read collectively, have provided multi-layered insight into how each unit perceives itself in relation to diversity and allows for comparative reading of academic departments across disciplines and campuses. More than a quantitative diversity audit, Phase I has provided a series of developing narratives and practices yielding a rich picture of UW’s many diversity activities.

Limitations of this Report

The scope, depth, and detail of 150 unit reports submitted range from one-page responses with little attention to the critical questions or key diversity targets, to lengthy, comprehensive summaries infused with relevant assessment data. This variation of reporting led to unevenness in the overarching narrative and limits the comprehensiveness of the report.

The report is further hampered by the lack of institutional and unit benchmarks for gauging the success of initiatives. The report offers examples of good practice as possible indicators for the establishment of benchmarks to guide further assessment. While a complete and comprehensive assessment of all the effective work at UW would be ideal, this report summarizes what those units responding to President Huntsman and Vice President Barceló’s request submitted, not all that exists at the University. This report will be updated as new information is received.

Next Steps in the Diversity Appraisal Process—Phase II

The reports raise a number of important questions that need to be further examined in Phase II of the Diversity Appraisal process. Among them include:

  • Are issues of diversity at the center of beliefs and practices for all University units and programs?
  • What does this mean for daily interactions and experience of campus climate?
  • How are diverse forms of scholarship and teaching/learning supported and rewarded?
  • How are policies and procedures (e.g., family leave) being applied?
  • What kinds of alignment exist between institutional goals for diversity and programmatic goals? How are these achieved within administrative and academic units?
  • How are student, faculty and staff diversity, and professional development issues being addressed?
  • Are the right structures in place to: recruit and serve students? Recruit and retain faculty and staff members? Integrate diversity into the curriculum and research? Engage with diverse external communities?

To address these questions and others raised by the Diversity Appraisal, President Mark Emmert has called for two implementation initiatives:

1. Best Practices Working Groups:

Many reports expressed the desire for assistance in achieving their goals for diversity, especially by having opportunities to learn from the good practices and success of others. To assist with interinstitutional learning, teams of students, faculty, staff and community experts will be constituted to provide consultation, training, resources and toolkits for departments to use to improve practice and results in recruitment and retention, curriculum, climate, and other areas of concern.

2. President’s Diversity Appraisal Implementation Fund:

The sum of $400,000 has been allocated over the next two years to fund projects that address challenges and recommendations in this report, and which significantly enhance diversity at the University of Washington. The Call for Proposals, Section XII of this report, provides the guidelines for funding. Proposals are due March 18, 2005.

Further information on both of these initiatives can be obtained by contacting, Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló, Vice President for Minority Affairs and Vice Provost for Diversity, 206-685-0518, vpoma@u.washington.edu.

Next: Section III. Leadership for Diversity

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