Turning ideas into action

University’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion releases report offering roadmap to a more diverse, inclusive community

Washington University in St. Louis’ first Day of Discovery & Dialogue was held in February 2015, six months after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the unrest and activism that followed.

In his universitywide invitation that February, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said the two-day event was “designed to help us all grow as individuals and as a university. It is intended as an important step toward becoming a more engaged, welcoming and inclusive community. Not a punctuation mark. Not an end.”

As the university hosts its fourth annual Day of Discovery & Dialogue, it is taking another important step toward that goal of a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming community with the release today of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion’s report.

The commission’s report — the culmination of two years of deep engagement, focused strategizing, fact-finding, benchmarking and listening to hundreds of Washington University voices — provides a roadmap to a more diverse, inclusive community.

Among the commission’s recommendations are creating a universitywide research center focused specifically on race and ethnicity; founding an Academy for Diversity & Inclusion to support the university’s increasingly diverse staff and faculty; eliminating barriers to accessing technology; and increasing the number of students from underrepresented and marginalized groups and ensuring their academic success.

Adrienne Davis headshot
Davis

The 27-member commission, which was led by Adrienne Davis, vice provost and the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, comprised faculty, staff and students from throughout the university.

Charged with implementing a 12-point action plan developed two years prior by the Steering Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, the commission engaged more than 230 other university members for 12 working groups to help tackle the action items.

The commission also reached out to three academic chief diversity officers at peer institutions and a local corporate chief diversity officer to gain a better understanding of the shifting landscape of institutional leadership in diversity and inclusion. Key leaders at the university, including Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration; Legail Poole Chandler, vice chancellor for human resources; and Stephanie Smith, manager of supplier diversity, also were consulted.

In addition to defining steps toward meeting the 12 action items, the commission also identified and made recommendations in other areas of importance, including tenure standards and the Supplier Diversity Initiative.

The report includes an executive summary and 19 individual reports offering tangible, meaningful recommendations to promote diversity, inclusion and equity throughout the university.

“In order to address each of the areas within this report, it will require commitment, as well as dedication of time and resources to implement new initiatives, while building on existing strengths,” Davis said.

“With the direction and support we’ve received so far from university leadership, including Chancellor Wrighton and Provost Holden Thorp, along with the interest from the broader university community who participated in our work through formal meetings, town halls, campus diversity and inclusion advocacy groups, and informal coffee hours, we believe Washington University is poised to become a leader in the areas of diversity and inclusion within higher education,” Davis said.

To view the commission’s report and a list of the commission members, visit the Diversity & Inclusion website.

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