Ten new diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives

Vice President for Inclusive Excellence Randy Williams has announced additional steps to make Elon a more equitable and welcoming community.

Dear Members of the Elon Community,

We have arguably the best opportunity of our lives to address structural oppressions that prevent us all from experiencing greater levels of humanity. The heightened attention to racial injustice and widespread readiness to take informed action position our nation to reconcile its history of inequities by design with its aspirations of justice for all. Elon is a part of the movement.

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After engaging in dialogues with several members of the Elon community, President Book recently announced five first steps in a deep agenda that will make Elon a more equitable and welcoming community. Those honest and thoughtful dialogues will continue because we believe they lead to effective action in our long-term commitment to systemic change. Today, I’m writing to share our additional plans for the upcoming semester.

Action Item: Commit to new learning through curricular change and program development

  1. Provide anti-racism education for all new students
    This fall, Student Involvement, New Student & Transitions Programs and the Center for Race, Equity & Diversity Education (CREDE) will implement anti-racism programs and offerings for new and returning students. These efforts will be 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.
  2. Infuse anti-racist content and pedagogy throughout the curriculum
    Elon is called to make changes in its curriculum to teach our students about ways to make systemic changes that will end racism. Building upon existing efforts in the Core Curriculum and Elon 101, Academic Council has 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Revamp and promote the Diversity Course Database
    Beginning fall 2020, with updates in December and May, 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.

    Action Item: Commit to achieving greater levels of faculty and staff diversity

  5. Develop equity-minded hiring protocols for all university divisions
    By December 2020, 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.
  6. 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.” All Elon employees will complete this training by December 2020, including modules that address discriminatory behavior, inclusivity, microaggression and bystander intervention.
  7. Re-establish the pre- and post-doctoral program aligned with university needs
    Once the COVID-19 budget restrictions are lifted, we 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.

    Action Item: Commit to inspired engagement with alumni, parents and friends to recruit and support students

  8. Enhance recruitment efforts for underrepresented students
    In recruiting the entering class of 2021 and beyond, 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

These actions represent some of the plans in the near future, and we welcome your engagement with these plans and suggestions of other ideas for more inclusive excellence. Please share your thoughts with me, and together, let’s work to make the change we seek and need.

Randy Williams, vice president and associate provost for inclusive excellence