After engaging in dialogues with several members of the Elon community, in summer 2020 President Connie Ledoux Book and Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence Randy Williams announced the steps in a deep agenda that will make Elon a more equitable and welcoming community.
A progress report on some of these diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives is available here.
Action Item: Commit to University-Wide Growth and Change in the Areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence
Establish a Senior-Level Position to Lead DEI Efforts
Randy Williams was promoted to the new position of Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence. As Elon’s chief diversity officer, he reports directly to President Book. His responsibilities cross all divisions of the university and he provides transparent leadership on Elon’s progress in the important goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Since spring 2021, Elon has hired staff in inaugural roles to support its DEI efforts in the Division of Inclusive Excellence, Human Resources, and University Communications. Dr. Laké Laosebikan-Buggs serves as the Director of Inclusive Excellence for Graduate and Professional Education. T.J. Bowie is the Equal Opportunity and Human Resources Compliance Manager, and Devon Smith is the Communications Specialist for Inclusive Excellence. These investments, along with existing resources, have strengthened the university’s position for supporting students and colleagues.
Require DEI Education for Students in All Majors
President Book called on Elon’s faculty, provost and the academic deans to revise the curriculum and require students in all majors to take courses that drive deeper understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion. Book committed to providing the resources to fund this faculty initiative, including the addition of faculty, as needed.
In May 2022, Elon faculty voted to approve two proposals that support equity education for all students.
- First, “Equitable Thinking: An understanding of methods to address or remedy injustice and inequality” is one of eight Learning Goals in the Core Curriculum.
- Second, starting in 2023, students will complete a 4-credit course designated as an Advancing Equity Requirement.
These courses can be from the students’ majors, minors, or other Core Curriculum requirements. This course requirement provides students with methods and tools for thinking about equity in various contexts.
Develop and Implement a New Procedure for Naming and Renaming Campus Spaces
As an institution that emphasizes inclusive excellence, the university must have a clear process for deciding whether and how to rename buildings, as well as specific criteria for future decisions about naming. As recommended by the Committee on Elon History and Memory, the university will proactively provide a fair and transparent process.
During 2021-22, the Board of Trustees Advancement Committee has reviewed a proposed process for the university’s naming policy. In the spring 2022 semester, university colleagues from key departments and the Committee on Elon History and Memory engaged in various discussions leading to updates to the process of naming Elon facilities, activities, funds and features. The Board of Trustees will conduct a second review of the proposed procedure at its fall 2022 meeting.
Redesign Elon’s Bias Response and Reporting Systems
President Book called for a redesign of Elon’s bias response system to be as effective and transparent as the law allows. She also asked for a public dashboard that provides the Elon community with data regarding incidents of racism on campus as well as the actions taken by the university.
A team of faculty and staff has been implementing the recommendations of the Bias Response System Working Group report, continuing its work through Fall 2022. The report included 38 recommendations within six themes: personnel, partnerships, education and training, accountability and policy, technology, and transparency. The Office of Inclusive Excellence Education and Development commenced its Bias Education campaign consisting of workshops on awareness, accountability, and advocacy. In addition, the office will provide regular bias reporting data for public knowledge and opportunities for further enhancements to the bias response, education, and support processes.
Further Promote DEI Professional Development for Faculty and Staff
Going forward, all future merit pay increases for faculty and staff will be based in part on their commitment to professional development related to diversity, equity and inclusion. That includes President Book and all of the vice presidents.
Human Resources and the Office of Inclusive Excellence Education and Development will offer a suite of diversity, inclusion, and belonging modules and workshops to support faculty and staff development beginning in fall 2022. Additionally, the Office of Leadership and Professional Development launched the Enhanced Supervision Program to celebrate, encourage, and support all supervisors to build a healthy, inclusive, skilled, and effective workforce. The series will offer adaptable trainings for all supervisors while enhancing and standardizing supervisory training. Also, new investments in faculty development through the Provost’s Office will support new and existing efforts committed to professional development related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. A group of faculty and staff participated in an AAC&U summer seminar where colleagues worked on developing faculty the tools to write about their professional DEI journey in their Unit 1s. These collective efforts further establish the readiness to support faculty and staff in their professional development in relation to merit pay.
Provide Anti-Racism Education for All New Students
In fall 2020, Student Involvement, New Student Programs and the Center for Race, Equity & Diversity Education implemented anti-racism programs and offerings for new and returning students. These efforts were incorporated in new student orientation and student leader training. Other efforts include faculty and staff professional development of skills and attitudes for working effectively in a diverse society.
This training continues and will be enhanced by the evaluation of pre-enrollment training programs, and the new curricular requirements within the Elon Core Curriculum.
Infuse Anti-Racist Content and Pedagogy throughout the Curriculum
Building upon existing efforts in the Core Curriculum and Elon 101, Academic Council launched a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Team to examine processes and practices across the university with a goal of remedying areas where inequities exist. This DEI team will explore ways to increase intercultural consciousness, hold all faculty responsible for making their teaching more inclusive and assess and reward positive efforts so that further progress can be made.
Approved by Elon Core Curriculum Council and University Curriculum Committee for faculty approval during the May 6, 2022 University Faculty Meeting, the Advancing Equity Requirement to the Core Curriculum has the following four learning outcomes.
- Students will interrogate their own racial and other identities within cultural institutions and how those structures shape their realities;
- Students will explain how the social construction of race and intersectional identities (i.e.,gender, class, sexual identity, religion, etc.) are connected to systems and structures of US institutions;
- Students will evaluate the historic, cultural, and societal causes of systemic and structural inequity; and
- Students will apply real and/or theoretical solutions to systemic racism and other forms of oppression including how historically marginalized groups advocate for self, resist oppression, and build solidarity.
Engage In a Sustained Partnership with a Racial Equity Organization
Within the university community, there are numerous sources of expertise in anti-racist and racial equity work. In order to optimize both internal and external resources, leaders among identity spaces, academic programs and administration have begun organizing on-campus anti-racist and anti-bias education efforts. These efforts will be supported through a sustained partnership with a racial equity consulting organization.
Revamp and Promote the Diversity Course Database
Elon’s existing Diversity Course Database will be retooled and organized with courses that include substantial content related to social identity and social justice related to systems of oppression in the United States. This tool will be promoted in course advising sessions and programming related to inclusive excellence.
The Diversity Course Database revamp process has been connected to the Advancing Equity Requirement to create a more comprehensive advising tool for students, faculty, and advisors. Now that the faculty has approved the requirement, the Presidential Administrative Fellow and staff from the Core Curriculum and the Office of Inclusive Excellence Education and Development, along with other key stakeholders, will work to establish strategies to review and approve courses submitted for the database, set submission deadlines, and develop a promotion and programming plan related to the database.
Develop Equity-Minded Hiring Protocols for All University Divisions
All vice presidents and academic deans will work in collaboration with Human Resources to create, publish and implement equity-minded hiring protocols. These guidelines will be modeled after protocols already in place in some administrative units. The goals are to undertake recruitment strategies and search committee practices to identify a diverse pool of excellent candidates for positions and be successful in expanding the diversity of Elon’s faculty and staff.
Human Resources created a new position, Equal Opportunity and Human Resources Compliance Manager, primarily responsible for developing and training around equitable employment protocols, implicit and unconscious bias and utilizing best hiring practices that align with the University’s core values. The Manager will analyze, develop, execute and achieve goals to increase and retain employees from underrepresented groups. In partnership with the Office of Inclusive Excellence Education and Development, design, lead and build upon intercultural competencies for all employee groups to foster an inclusive work environment.
Implement Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Anti-Bias Training For All Employees
The Office of Human Resources will immediately enforce the university policy of requiring all faculty and staff to participate in an online training program titled “Preventing Harassment & Discrimination for Higher Education.” This training includes modules that address discriminatory behavior, inclusivity, microaggression and bystander intervention.
The Office of Human Resources launched an online training program that addresses harassment and discrimination. Based on an impact report for over 90% of employees, respondents indicated increased abilities to identify harassment and discrimination and to intervene if they witnessed it. This training will continue as a requirement for all employees at the university. In fall 2022, Human Resources will launch new modules for ongoing training.
Re-Establish the Pre- and Post-Doctoral Program Aligned with University Needs
Once the COVID-19 budget restrictions are lifted, Elon will re-establish a previously successful pre- and post-doctoral program to promote hiring of exemplary faculty in areas that align with institutional needs. Historically, this program has increased faculty of color and expanded the diversity of Elon’s professoriate. It also complements the significant impact of opportunity hiring funds which have attracted faculty of color at the assistant professor rank. Having greater racial diversity among the faculty provides students with more diversity of thought in teaching and mentoring.
An assessment of the pre- and post-doctoral program revealed that the structure does not yield faculty in long-term roles. One approach to hiring continuing track faculty is a cluster hires strategy that secures faculty in interdisciplinary roles around a similar topic. The Presidential Administrative Fellow is drafting a proposal for cluster hires to support the new Equitable Thinking goal and Advancing Equity Requirement in the Core Curriculum. These hires will fill tenure track positions and have opportunities to be affiliated with one or more of Elon’s interdisciplinary programs connected to race, intersectional identities, and equity, including African and African American Studies, Poverty and Social Justice, and American Studies.
Action Item: Commit to Inspired Engagement with Alumni, Parents and Friends to Recruit and Support Students
Enhance Recruitment Efforts for Underrepresented Students
Elon will widely communicate its new test-optional admissions policy to prospective students who are historically disadvantaged by standardized test systems and will measure the impact of this change on our efforts to enroll a more racially diverse student body. Additionally, greater efforts are underway to expand partnerships with community programs that prepare K-12 students for college. Our inspired Elon alumni ambassadors will be called upon to assist in recruiting and enrolling Black first-year students. These strategies among others will be included in an updated Black Student Recruitment Plan.
The Black Advance recruitment program has been a successful addition to recruitment initiatives. For fall 2022, the overall yield (the percentage of admitted students who chose Elon) was 13%. The yield for students participating in the Black Advance was 35%. Building on efforts to expand partnerships with community programs, the Office of Admissions hired a Director of Admissions for Diversity and Access with expertise in community-based organizations. Achieved after an extensive search, this new leadership position will focus on recruiting Black-identified students.
Expand Aid for Black Students to Attend and Experience Elon
The Elon LEADS Campaign, begun in 2019 and scheduled to conclude in 2022, promotes as its top priority the stewardship of donor support for the expansion of annual and endowed scholarships to support Elon students. Elon will adjust its fundraising targets to include reaching 200 Odyssey Scholarship commitments by 2022, tripling the endowment of the Black Alumni Scholarship fund by 2025 and expanding internship support by at least $1 million by 2025.
The Elon Black Alumni Network (EBAN) and University Advancement staff continue to demonstrate leadership toward tripling the endowment of the Black Alumni Scholarship. The scholarship endowment was valued at $350,000 in 2020, and the goal is to increase it to $1 million by 2025. By summer 2022, thanks to focused philanthropic support by Elon alumni, the endowment reached $610,000. Among the highlights of the March 2022 Elon Day, the Black Alumni Scholarship secured a record of 329 gifts. In the April 2022 Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards ceremony, EBAN presented a student with a $25,300 scholarship. At its spring 2022 meeting, the Black Life Advisory Council focused its attention on internships, and the Student Professional Development Center arranged a group of students to share their insights on internships and Black students’ engagement with them. The SPDC and council will continue their partnership to bolster more opportunities for students.
Expand the Black Life Advisory Council
Established in 2017, the Black Life Advisory Council advises the president and senior staff. Its membership consists primarily of a small group of parents and alumni. The council will be expanded to include faculty, staff and students. The council will annually be invited to a joint meeting with Elon’s Black Alumni Network, one of the university’s most engaged and active alumni affinity networks.
The Black Life Advisory Council has expanded to include faculty and staff with student participation at meetings. In fall 2022, the membership will be updated after several transitions from the previous year. In addition, University Advancement and Inclusive Excellence staff are planning to increase opportunities for more parent engagement through new marketing strategies.