President Paino appointed The President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in fall 2016, and it included faculty, staff, and students. The Task Force was charged with examining areas relating to diversity and inclusion at the University of Mary Washington (UMW), finding answers to the following questions, and making recommendations to the president by May 2017:
- What is the climate on campus related to diversity and inclusion and how is it experienced by individuals and members of the community?
- What is needed to recruit and retain a diverse faculty, staff, senior administrators and students?
- What measures can productively be taken to educate and prevents insensitivity and discrimination?
- How do we best address reported and suspected instances of bias for investigation and remedial action?
THE WORK OF THE TASK FORCE: PROCESS
The Task Force created five subcommittees to address each of those four areas above:
- Campus Climate;
- Recruitment of Faculty, Staff, Students;
- Retention of Faculty, Staff, Students;
- Prevention and Education; and Bias Reporting and Incident Response.
From January 2017 to its conclusion in May 2017, the full Task Force and its subcommittees met regularly. Each subcommittee adopted its own methodology to examine the questions charged to the subcommittee. Some reviewed the existing UMW policies and practices on hiring or bias reporting. Other subcommittees conducted preliminary climate studies or focus groups among students, faculty and staff. The subcommittees also made presentations on their work to the Board of Visitors Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion during the spring 2017 semester. The Task Force held a final full day retreat in May. Ms. Rhonda VanLowe, current member of the UMW Board of Visitors and chair of the Board of Visitor’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, joined the task force at that retreat to hear the subcommittees’ initial findings and recommendations.
SUMMARY OF THE TASK FORCE FINDINGS:
As the work of the task force progressed, the enormity of the task became ever more apparent. The task force found that many departments were invested in goals related to diversity and inclusion, while other departments were not. Efforts were dispersed across programs and offices with no clear unifying focus or objective. Some questions related to hiring, retention and climate, as examples, require additional research and data collection. The task force was only able to “scratch the surface” as it were. More time and research is needed to develop a long term sustainable strategic plan related to access, diversity, and inclusion. As a result, the recommendations here are proposed actions for the next academic year, 2017-2018, to lay a foundation for further development of a UMW Strategic Plan for the achievement of our access, diversity, and inclusion goals.