Last month, the School of Professional Studies' Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee held its first meeting after a journey that began in late 2019 when the Office of Faculty Affairs started discussions with the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement. With their support, we have achieved initial goals in developing an SPS Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy.
During this initial phase, we have been supported by our generous colleagues from the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the School of Social Work, the Office of the Vice Provost, and the Business School. They have all shared resources and guidance, and like us, they are learning to adapt practices and goals as the national dialogue continues to surface new thoughts and ideas.
Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, we continued to pursue support for the Faculty DEI initiative. Faculty Affairs began a series focusing on improving departmental climate and best practices for remote work in the Academy as provided by the Provost Office. In July, we completed a Faculty Climate survey whose results will be vital in defining the measurable outcomes that we believe will benefit our SPS faculty community.
The next steps for the SPS Faculty DEI Committee are to complete the Mission Statement, define priorities and goals with measurable results, and develop a Faculty DEI curriculum that will include Unconscious Bias and Anti-Racial Discrimination workshops. In addition, the Faculty Development and Assessment team will launch a Faculty DEI week beginning October 27th offering three workshops on inclusive teaching and learning and a panel discussion. We also invite you to review the SPS Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Information and Resources Guidebook.
On a personal note, I wish to thank Melinda Starmer, Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, for her leadership on this initiative and Senior Associate Dean, Louise Rosen, for her support. I also wish to recall the late Dr. Katherine Phillips, Senior Vice Dean of Columbia Business School. Her diversity and inclusion research is integral to why DEI practices make good business sense, vital, and necessary for all institutions and organizations’ growth and innovation. I was fortunate enough to have been part of a team that worked with her on an executive program focused on inclusive leadership. I learned a great deal from her and continue to do so now to develop DEI research. I would like to share a quote from Dr. Phillips:
“The conclusion I draw from decades of research from organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers is that if you want to build teams capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem-solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think.” (Phillips, 2014)
SPS Faculty Affairs and the Faculty DEI committee invites you on our DEI journey to make discoveries, broaden our perspectives, and innovate together.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any other person or entity.