Diversity Initiatives Progress Report

In November 2015, a group of students and administrators agreed that the university would work toward the following 12 goals, many of which were already aligned with the university’s strategic goals for diversity and inclusion. Here, you can track the university’s progress.

1. Increasing the tenured and tenure-track black faculty and retaining them by 10 percent by 2018.

Status: ON TRACK

HIRING

  • We have implemented an outreach process that requires the development and approval of an Outreach Plan for all tenured or tenure track faculty searches. We continue to review and seek effective institutional outreach resources. Most recently, membership with The PhD Project was secured to provide access to pools of prospective faculty of color.
  • Revisions to hiring procedures that include additional checkpoints in the search process are under review. Training is provided for faculty search committees that includes information related to best practices before, during, and following the search. Emphasis is place on the establishment of a fair and equitable search process. Awareness, and avoidance, of implicit bias is discussed. Following search completion, debriefs have begun with the goal of identifying and documenting the most effective methods for recruiting and hiring faculty of color.
  • We are developing dedicating resources for the purpose of improving our outreach to prospective faculty of color. A web portal that highlights TU’s faculty diversity initiatives and resources is being developed as a marketing tool for prospective faculty. Faculty vacancy announcements will be posted on the prospective faculty web page. A brochure is under development that will serve as an outreach tool for use during conferences and meetings to attract potential faculty of color to TU’s faculty employment opportunities.
  • We have increased our support for academic department chairs and are emphasizing their vital leadership role as it relates to diversity and inclusion. Areas for impact include, but are not limited to, recruitment, retention, climate, curriculum, research, and student development. Working with the Council of Chairs Subcommittee on Equity and Inclusion we are bringing relevant resources to facilitate institutional transformation.
  • We have developed an Inclusion Tool Kit and made the resources available on the Office of the Provost website. Resources located within the tool kit support TU’s faculty recruitment and retention goals.
  • We are in the final stages of development of TU’s Faculty Recruitment Incentive Program (FRIP). FRIP, a pipeline program, is designed to increase diversity within the faculty body by placing selected individuals in tenure track positions. FRIP promotes the professional development of underrepresented faculty by facilitating the initialization and completion of graduate work and other appropriate academic pursuits leading to a terminal degree and/or conducting research in their discipline.

Retention

  • TU’s diversity initiatives and resources are highlighted during the initial meeting of new faculty orientation. The orientation program includes periodic meetings throughout the new faculty member’s first academic year. Resources and programming are provided for new faculty members during these meetings.
  • We are supporting the development of communities of care through the networking and collaboration that is take place for TU faculty participating in our diversity programs. TU’s Diversity Faculty Fellows Program (DFF) provides selected faculty members with opportunities to infuse diversity into existing curriculum, create models to improve classroom dynamics in support of social justice, or identify and implement strategies to enhance institutional practices to support and affirm a campus culture that values equity, diversity and inclusion. Through sustained monthly dialogues, the DFF program offers ongoing opportunities for faculty networking and collaboration. TU’s Multiculturalism in Action monthly lunch gatherings afford faculty members with opportunities to share information and gather feedback from the TU community regarding their scholarship. This program has brought together faculty members that are committed to expanding diversity and inclusion at TU and has fostered the formation of a community of supportive scholars. TU’s academic Intergroup Dialogue Program (IGD) delivers for-credit opportunities for students to participate in multi-week dialogues to come together across social identify differences. IGD faculty facilitators have established a supportive network that encourages faculty retention.
  • Focus groups with faculty have been conducted for the purpose of discussing and gathering tools for faculty success at TU. Faculty members shared information regarding what resources and support systems that were most impactful in relation to securing their tenure and promotion.
  • As a result of extremely positive feedback from faculty members, TU’s membership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) is being renewed for next academic year. NCFDD provides resources and programming that support faculty success.

2. Require the president to work with the provost to ensure that every college or department has one meeting per semester dedicated to cultural competency content approved by a student representative that works in the CDSO.

Status: ON TRACK

  • Each college’s Diversity Action Committee or College Council develops annual training; the colleges and department chairs have established that at least one meeting per fall and spring term will be devoted to cultural competency.
  • Colleges involve students in planning as is appropriate. We encourage student representatives to contact their respective dean’s office to volunteer in program development and evaluation.
  • The Diversity Faculty Fellows Program, established in 2015, gives selected faculty members the opportunity to infuse diversity into their existing curriculum, create models to improve classroom dynamics in support of social justice, or identify strategies to enhance institutional practices. This allows faculty to research ways to enhance diversity and inclusiveness while actively examining their effectiveness in practice. Five fellows were selected for the 2015 academic year; 11 have been selected for AY2016.
  • The Center for Student Diversity now includes a position for associate director for Cultural Competency Education to help develop educational models and opportunities for cultural competency training for students and for the Division of Student Affairs. The associate director is also available to consult on and/or review college-based programs as requested. 
  • We are working with recently hired Vice President of Inclusion and Institutional Equity to plan and develop curriculum for ongoing cultural competency offering for academic departments.

3. Advocate for IFC fraternities and Pan-Hellenic sororities to have a diversity chair who will promote diversity within their respective organizations and interact with multicultural organizations on campus.

Status: COMPLETED

  • Ninety-five percent of the councils and chapters have a diversity chair. Diversity chairs are trained on cultural competency by staff from the Center for Student Diversity and are given facilitator training by staff from Fraternity and Sorority Life in order to execute the Greek Life Social Justice training module. Fraternity and Sorority Life worked in close collaboration with the Center for Student Diversity to develop the year-long training module which includes Intro to Social Justice, Identity Development, Current Vocabulary and Language, How to Be an Ally/Commitment to Being an Ally, Chapter Values Alignment with Social Justice Principles, and Developing Culturally Competent Programs. 
  • All new member orientations and Greek summits will now include a module on identity and inclusion.
  • In spring 2017, 48 social justice programs sponsored by Greek organizations were reported to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.


4. Send a letter to the president of USM Student Council regarding the review and termination of the contract, vendoring, and purchasing of appliances, tools, furniture and any other items produced within Maryland state and federal prisons. Given the status of the prison-industrial complex and the criminalization of black bodies, along with the school-to-prison pipeline, we find it problematic that we finance the same institution that profits off of black bodies.

Status: COMPLETED

  • Provost Chandler, while still interim president, sent the letter to the USM Student Council president. The Maryland legislature mandates that USM institutions purchase items from Maryland Correctional Enterprises. Any Maryland resident may communicate to legislators an opinion or position on this matter.

5. Advocate to require the SGA to maintain communication with the diverse organizations and their leaders on campus through physical contact, wherein bills and policies that will affect the black student body will be made known and aware to them.

Status: COMPLETED

  • The Student Government Association (SGA), through the assistant director of Diversity Outreach, established a core advisory board comprised of eight students from diverse, inclusive backgrounds. Students were recommended to serve based on their interest and involvement in diversity and social justice issues. The board is intended to bridge the gap between SGA and student organizations that represent diverse backgrounds, and to inform SGA about issues related to campus climate and make recommendations for programming.
  • The SGA conducted a survey of all student groups to better understand the effectiveness of senators’ outreach to their assigned groups. As a result of the survey, the SGA has implemented a new system of accountability for senators.
  • The SGA has created a series of diversity-related programs including those relating to Black History Month, Women’s History Month, the impact of student activism in the TU community, and other relevant occasions and subjects.
  • SGA & the Department of Housing & Residence Life hosted CultureCon on April 7 to highlight, through students and student organizations, a wide variety of cultures and promote multicultural exchange. More than 250 students attended.
  • In early August, the Division of Student Affairs assisted with the planning and support of the inaugural Ujima Retreat. The program, coordinated by the Black Student Union president, was designed to build unity across the various black student organizations. About 60 students attended.
  • During the 2016-2017 academic year, the SGA established Be Heard Town Hall forums to promote transparency, build cultural understandings, and foster collaboration. Due to low student attendance, future forums will be offered as needed. 

6. Require the president’s Diversity Coordinating Council and other institution-wide diversity committees to have diverse (including multi-cultural) representation on the committee that reflects the underrepresented cultures of the student body.

Status: ON TRACK

  • The new vice president for Inclusion and Institutional Equity will be charged with reviewing this structure and making strategic recommendations for improvements or modifications, if needed. The new vice president will be tasked with strategic vision for the design, promotion, and delivery of best practices in diversity, inclusion and cultural competency efforts across campus.
  • The Diversity Action Committee and its hate/bias work group are comprised of diversity-related group representatives.

NEXT STEPS

  • We may revise the structure and other operational models for committees.

7. Set an expectation to diversify the representation of the committees determining tenure at Towson University and require college deans to report on their efforts and results. Such efforts could include but are not limited to: Encourage students to complete course evaluations in course syllabi; invite student feedback for pending tenure cases; provide the opportunity for faculty tenure candidates to identify an advocate to serve on any level of their choosing in the tenure process.

Status: COMPLETED

  • In addition to existing efforts via Blackboard and campus email each term, we have expanded marketing-related efforts to increase participation in course evaluations through messages in social media, T3, the Towerlight, and digital signage throughout campus. Housing & Residence Life also posted reminders throughout residence halls. We also developed an app through which course evaluations can be completed.
  • We have shared copies of Promotion, Tenure, Reappointment and Merit (PTRM) documents with two of the student leaders involved in establishing these 12 goals, and offered to meet for review. The vice provost will continue to be available to answer questions about this document
  • The Appointment, Rank and Tenure (ART) Document Revision Committee includes a student to provide input into potential changes to the document.
  • We’ve reminded deans, chairs and departmental PTRM chairs that their faculty have the option of securing an external reviewer for their tenure review.

8. Advocate for the director positions in the SGA to be elected by the people of this university instead of appointed, hired and/or interviewed by the president. The diversity chair is a direct representative of the minority students and should be elected directly by and for minority students.

Status: COMPLETED

  • After working with the Council of Diverse Student Organizations (CDSO) and others to identify new approaches, the SGA has amended its constitution to include a call for applications to the position. The CDSO will screen those applications and recommend an individual for appointment to the chair position. While this is an appointment rather than an election, the SGA included the CDSO in the process to ensure that representative consideration on matters of diversity will be considered.


9. Return the Towson University Debate Team to a traveling debate team as soon as possible and no later than fall 2016. The Debate Team is an intellectual fixture in the Towson University black community where black students have been nationally successful and active contributors to bringing justice to black people at this institution.

Status: COMPLETED

  • The Debate Team participated in some national travel as its handbook was finalized last spring to outline policies and procedures on expectations for participation. The team attended CEDA in April 2016.

10. Honestly and strictly enforce the university’s policies on non-discrimination. Proactively work to create a marketing campaign to educate and communicate our hate/bias procedures and response. Distribute a public statement on Towson University’s response on those issues when they occur. Publicly. The mental and emotional health of this university’s black students across all intersections need to be taken as seriously as their physical health.

Status: COMPLETED AND ONGOING

  • A collaborative university-wide group established the hate/bias procedures that were adopted in spring 2016, and a campaign led by the SGA called #NotAtTU promoted awareness and understanding of those procedures to encourage reporting. The #NotAtTU initiative included a marketing campaign, created by students in the Division of University Marketing & Communications Student Agency. While the SGA led student-centered approaches, the Office of the Provost supported and promoted the procedures for faculty, and Housing & Residence Life supported it in residence hall postings.
  • Over the summer, a work group chaired by the assistant vice president for Student Affairs/Diversity and comprised of faculty, staff, students and administrators reviewed the hate-bias procedures for effectiveness and clarity, and made updates the group deemed necessary.
  • The Housing & Residence Life “Guide to Community Living” brochure has been updated to reflect the value of inclusive and welcoming communities and the ways to report hate/bias incidents. These will be distributed to every student in fall 2016.
  • The provost fellow for Diversity and Inclusion position was established to support efforts to diversify the faculty and student body, and to assist in efforts to create a more inclusive and respectful campus community. The first provost fellow served during the 2015-16 academic year.
  • The Provosts’ and Deans’ Council retreat this summer focused on diversity to advance understanding and progress in non-discrimination. This included an in-depth discussion of awareness of self-identity and privilege to help in understanding the impact of that perspective on one’s own actions and reactions. It also included a discussion of cultural competency, particularly in identifying and setting goals for diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • As of summer 2016, the Office of the Provost now includes an assistant vice president for Diversity & Inclusion to support institutional and divisional goals.
  • Over the summer, Housing & Residence Life partnered with the Center for Student Diversity to provide development in diversity for professional and resident assistant staff.
  • Over the summer, orientation leaders were trained to facilitate discussions on inclusion.
  • During summer orientation, all first-year students participated in an orientation program that addressed stereotypes and hidden bias.
  • Over the summer, the Division of Student Affairs participated in a staff development program in which each staff member examined their own strengths and weaknesses with respect to diversity and inclusiveness. The program also provided best practices for diversity and inclusiveness, and included planning for initiatives in the 2016-17 academic year.
  • We established the assistant vice president for Diversity & Inclusion position in the Office of the Provost to lead efforts to diversify the faculty and staff of the Division of Academic Affairs and student body, and to oversee efforts to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus climate, particularly in TU’s classrooms and the division’s work environments.
  • Students and other TU community members can find information on publicly posted monthly reports of hate and bias incidents on the NotAtTU web page. Click on Monthly Reports for Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents, which is found below the definitions of hate and bias incidents.

NEXT STEPS

  • All efforts at minimizing hate/bias incidents and publicly posting reports are ongoing.

11. Require that policing practices be equitable for black events and white events alike.

Status: COMPLETED

  • In summer 2015, a committee of administrators reviewed and revised the process for staffing student events. A writing group rewrote the policy, specifically addressing late night parties and complex event policy. As a result, all similar events are required to use the same support and enforcement.
  • In summer 2016, the committee developed the TU Student Guide to Planning Events (PDF) to increase transparency and better inform students about policies and procedures associated with event planning. 
  • During the 2016-2017 academic year, the Center for Student Diversity conducted a series of dialogues and workshops with Towson University Police Department (TUPD) focusing on equitable policing practices and community building between TUPD and students of color. The engagement with TUPD helps to ensure open communication and understanding between TUPD and students of color.
  • In summer 2017, an e-learning video was created to train key representatives from student organizations wishing to reserve event and meeting space through Event & Conference Services. The video is designed to help students better understand policies and procedures associated with room requests and reservations.

12. Advocate for the establishment of a course requirement in American race relations for students by meeting with the necessary and appropriate entities (such as the Curriculum Committee, University Senate, MHEC, USM, etc.).

Status: ONGOING

The Core Curriculum Revisions Task Force Recommendation #4 is to examine Core 11 as the most plausible place within the Core Curriculum where Race in America will be addressed as a theme. During the 2017-2018 academic year a task force will be assembled to examine the feasibility of including Race in America as a major theme of Core 11 (U.S. as a Nation). The task force will develop proposed learning objectives specifically addressing Race in America and examine current syllabi of Core 11 courses to determine how many courses would have to be substantially altered. The group will provide recommendations for moving forward.