Diversity Council to release plan by December
By Stephanie Mc Feeters, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
In an effort to solidify the College’s commitment to cultivating and supporting a diverse campus, the Diversity Council is developing an institution-wide Diversity Plan, according to Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Evelynn Ellis. The council expects to release their plan in December, according to Amy Olson, senior media relations officer for the College.
The Diversity Council — whose membership includes College President Jim Yong Kim, Provost Carol Folt, the deans of the graduate schools and other high-ranking administrators — typically meets twice a term to discuss campus diversity, Ellis said. The council was originally created in 2001 and recently reconvened in May 2011.
The group aims to maintain “an institution and a community where every member of the community feels equally at home,” Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities Linda Snyder said.
During the past year, the council called on each of Dartmouth’s departments — ranging from Tuck School of Business to Facilities, Operations and Management — to update or rewrite their individual diversity plans, most of which predated the council’s reconvention. The council is now working to produce a more holistic plan using the departmental suggestions, she said.
Many of the Diversity Plan’s goals overlap with those of the Strategic Planning Initiative, and the two projects are being executed simultaneously, Ellis said.
During Winter term 2011, a series of resignations by several minority female administrators led the Inter-Community Council to examine the College’s diversity policies and submit a report to the administration that advocated the Diversity Council’s reinstatement, ICC co-chair Chris O’Connell ’13 said.
According to the current draft of the plan, the College should strive to “embed diversity in institutional planning, expand our global participation and leadership, cultivate an innovative diverse workforce for the future and challenge a diverse student body to make high-impact contributions,” Ellis said.
It is important that the plan be user-friendly and accessible, Ellis said.
“Anyone reading it should feel some sense of ownership, no matter where they work,” Ellis said. “From someone sweeping the floor to someone balancing our checkbook, as they are thinking about their actions and what’s important, our Diversity Plan will remind them that we can’t be insular.”
FO&M, which employs 10 percent of Dartmouth’s workforce, collaborated with human resources and IDE to update its diversity plan, Snyder said. Through job fairs and increased outreach, between four and six new minority staff members have joined the department since the plan’s implementation, she said, noting that many of these occupations have low minority participation in the Upper Valley.
The council aims to do more than simply increase the number of minority employees, according to Snyder. FO&M works to ensure that these employees receive the support they need and feel connected to the community, she said.
In February, the council assembled a focus group of three alumni and three undergraduate students to gather feedback on the plan, according to Ellis.
O’Connell, a member of the focus group, said he was pleased with the council’s decision to develop a concrete Diversity Plan that includes the input of administrators from all areas of campus.
He said that the College should also implement a “more formalized mechanism for incorporating student feedback into the work that the council does.”
While the Board of Trustees has prioritized diversifying the student body in recent years, the campus still needs to improve the support available for these students, O’Connell said.
“The plan is a great first step, but plans are meaningless unless they are fully implemented,” he said. “Implementation requires strong, continuous support from senior administrators that diversity, equity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but actual values that guide the decision-making that goes on here.”
Both Ellis and Snyder emphasized the importance of constant commitment to the values outlined in the plan.
“We live in a community that isn’t always adaptable and open,” Snyder said. “While change can be difficult, it requires continued positive engagement with the issues.”
Once published, the Diversity Plan should be “live,” or open to community feedback and easily revisable, Ellis said.
“The plan’s success hinges on how strongly the senior leadership at Dartmouth, both interim and permanent, emphasizes the importance of this kind of work at all levels,” O’Connell said.
The council should improve its visibility in order to demonstrate to the Dartmouth community that supporting diversity is a priority, according to O’Connell. Many of the College’s peer institutions have visible and active diversity councils, he said.