LAS Diversity Strategic Goals, Subgoals, and Activities
The central mission of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is to promote and support education and research that will enrich the lives of our students, the broader community, and humankind. To accomplish this it is crucial that every aspect of our enterprise ensure fair and equal participation in the life of the college and access to the resources required for success. Our strategic plan for diversity thus seeks to maximize opportunities for current and potential students, staff, and faculty of LAS and to facilitate their flourishing.
Key to carrying out this mission is the collection and interpretation of critical data that will deepen our understanding of diversity-related issues within the college and help us to prioritize and refine our continuing efforts. In gathering this information, we will be guided by the following principle: At the outset we would expect the demographics of those successfully taking advantage of the opportunities in LAS to reflect those of the population to whom these opportunities are in principle available. We would expect, for instance, that the demographics of those who apply to LAS would reflect the demographics of recent Illinois high school graduates; that the demographics of those admitted would reflect the demographics of applicants; that the demographics of those who matriculate would reflect the demographics of those admitted; and that the demographics of those who achieve benchmarks of academic accomplishment, complete degrees within a specified amount of time, and enjoy post-graduate success would reflect the demographics of those matriculated. Corresponding expectations apply to staff and faculty. It is incumbent upon us to determine whether these demographics really do align as we would expect. Where they do not we must understand why they do not and act aggressively to bring them into alignment where possible and appropriate.
We are already aware of cases in which the initial expectations outlined above are not met. In some instances we have at least a partial understanding of why this so, but in others we do not. The specific steps outlined below are based on our current knowledge about areas of disproportionality in engagement and achievement in the college. We expect these goals to be supplemented and refined as further information becomes available. Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4
Goal 1: Procedures for Implementing the Plan
LAS will institutionalize structural administrative changes in order, most immediately, to facilitate the implementation of the strategic plan with the ultimate goal of making attention to diversity a part of the fabric of LAS and inculcating an understanding that promotion of diversity, access, and equity are the responsibility of all members of the College and an element of all its activities.
Subgoal 1.1: Establish the Diversity and Equity Committee.
- The college will designate an associate dean to be the LAS diversity officer, taking the leadership role in College initiatives and representing LAS on the Campus Diversity Council.
- The LAS diversity officer in consultation with the Dean will appoint a tenured faculty member with expertise in diversity issues to help constitute and serve as co-chair on the standing LAS Diversity and Equity Committee. The term of the co-chair will be three-years (renewable).
- The Diversity Officer and co-chair will appoint a diversity committee composed of faculty, staff, and students (graduate or undergraduate) with a strong interest in diversity issues to serve staggered two-year (renewable) terms. Charter members may elect to serve a one-year term. The membership should include scholars whose expertise is in diversity-related research, faculty who consistently teach significant numbers of students from underrepresented and underserved groups, and representatives from departments that face greater challenges in achieving diversity.
- Serving on the committee counts as work time for staff and is not expected to be an additional burden on their existing workload. Efforts should be made to recruit non-tenure stream faculty to serve on the committee. Those paid by the course (e.g. adjunct faculty and instructors) should be given a stipend commensurate with effort for their committee work to be negotiated with the dean.
- The committee should meet with the dean at least once a semester to discuss diversity issues. In the spring semester the committee should prepare a status report, detailing initiatives undertaken and plans made. This report can serve as the basis for the discussion during the spring meeting with the dean. The report should be presented to the LAS Executive Committee before the end of the academic year and then made publicly available.
Subgoal 1.2: Committee charge.
- Take an inventory of existing programs in place to promote diversity, access, and equity; assess their effectiveness and weakness; and seek to identify challenges that need to be addressed and strengths upon which to build. Insofar as possible the relevant data should be obtained from or carried out in conjunction with the inventory undertaken by the Campus Diversity Office.
- Review the data specified in goals 2, 3, and 4 and assess the implications for further action.
- Using the parameters and the data collected in goals 2, 3, and 4, as well as other data the committee may designate, the committee should annually assess progress on diversity, access, and equity. This assessment should be included in the progress report.
- The initial committee is also charged with more specifically defining the long term mission and operations of the LAS Diversity Committee. No later than the beginning of the third year the committee should write a formal, permanent plan for the committee’s future.
Goal 2: Students
LAS will work actively to achieve and maintain equality of access and equity for all students throughout all phases of their education. This means not only continuing our efforts to recruit and enroll a diverse student population, but also providing the resources for the students we enroll to flourish and succeed. “Success,” in this context is not to be defined solely in terms of degree completion. It includes, but is not limited to, excelling academically, seeking out and applying for fellowships, awards, and other educational opportunities, gaining admittance to the graduate programs, finding employment, and becoming part of social and professional networks. Not all students will succeed in all of these ways, of course, nor will all aspire to each of these outcomes. Our goal is to provide the support and assistance that will enable every student in our diverse student body to meet the standards of success set by the University and by the students themselves.
Subgoal 2.1: Determine and collect relevant data.
- At the beginning of its first year, the Diversity and Equity Committee should make it a priority to determine what data are required to attain the goal set out above. Special attention should be given to determining where there is disproportional use of opportunities or disproportion in successful outcomes, and to understand the causes of such disproportionalities where they occur. Starting with the UIC Equity Scorecard, and supplementing as necessary, the committee should develop a template for an LAS Status Report for Student Achievement. In consultation with both students and faculty, the committee should develop a preliminary version of the template by the end of the first semester. In addition to types of data listed in subgoals 2.2 through 2.4 possibilities include a survey of incoming students to determine their goals and expectations, surveys regarding advising, and exit surveys of both graduating students and students who leave the college without a degree.
- The College Diversity Officer should work with the Campus Diversity Office to determine which of the required data are already available, and undertake to obtain the rest, insofar as possible, using existing expertise in LAS and on the campus to develop the instrument and collect the data.
- The committee should supplement and refine subgoals 2.2 through 2.4 based on their review of the data when available.
- At the beginning of each year the committee should revisit the question of which data are needed.
Subgoal 2.2: Aggressively recruit and enroll a diverse, dynamic, and academically excellent student population.
We seek to increase both the percentage of underrepresented and underserved groups in the applicant pool, and the percentage of underrepresented and underserved students offered admission who matriculate.
- Partner with the support programs and the Graduate College to recruit underrepresented and underserved students.
- Partner with support programs and the Graduate College to increase direct outreach efforts designed to encourage admitted underrepresented and underserved students to choose UIC.
- Create relationships with local community colleges to encourage applications from transfer students.
- Closely monitor students in the GAT (Guaranteed Admission of Transfers) program and consider expanding the program if it proves to be an effective method for meeting diversity goals.
- Continue recently instituted calling program aimed at recruiting targeted students.
Subgoal 2.3: Provide comprehensive and coordinated advising resources for students from underrepresented and underserved groups.
- Make use of Office of Diversity climate surveys and related data to identify and address barriers to the success of students from underrepresented and underserved groups.
- Continue to develop advising resources. LAS has recently hired more student advisors. Over the next five years we plan to engage with the developing campus advising initiative to continue increasing that number, endeavoring to move to a cohort advising model for all students so that each advisor is assigned a group of students that she or he will follow throughout the students’ careers.
- Expand interaction with support programs. We have recently named an LAS advisor as an official liaison between the LAS advising office and each of the support program advisors. The LAS advisor and support program advisors should meet monthly, but communicate regularly as issues arise. It will be the responsibility of the LAS liaison to keep the LAS advising staff informed about the activities and resources of the relevant support programs.
- Hold regular social events and workshops involving LAS advisors and advisors from the support programs in order to build relationships and exchange information.
- Host a biennial advising summit for relevant college faculty and staff with attention to the experiences of students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Subgoal 2.4: Provide material and academic support for underrepresented and underserved groups with the aim of supporting the flourishing of students from these groups and enabling their academic success.
- Create and expand development initiatives and utilize existing college resources to create a program that will offer economically challenged students from underrepresented and underserved groups the financial support that will enable them to live on or near campus.
- Organize and support study groups for appropriate courses. Study groups should be available to all students in the relevant course. Endeavor to partner with the support programs to have the groups meet in support program spaces. The college could provide money for refreshments or financial incentives for advanced undergraduates or graduate students to lead the groups.
- Expand the LAS Undergraduate Research Initiative (LASURI) and/or develop other undergraduate research opportunities aimed at engaging underrepresented and underserved students.
- Consult with Women in Science and Engineering System Transformation (WISEST), the support programs, and faculty to develop a presentation that can be delivered at faculty meetings, TA orientations, advising summits, and other relevant venues on best practices in supporting the academic careers of underrepresented and underserved students.
- Partner with support groups to regularly bring to campus representatives from diversity-related professional societies to meet with students.
Goal 3: Faculty
LAS will be home to a diverse and outstanding faculty. The goal is not only to recruit and retain faculty from underrepresented and underserved groups, but also to foster their development as researchers and leaders in the academy and beyond.
Subgoal 3.1: Determine and collect relevant data.
- At the beginning of its first year, the Diversity and Equity Committee should make it a priority to partner with the Office of Diversity to determine what data are needed to address this goal, what data are available, and what methods can be used to obtain data not currently available.
- The committee should supplement and refine subgoals 3.2 and 3.3 based on their review of data.
- The committee should seek to determine the causes of any misalignment between the percentage of faculty from underrepresented and underserved groups applying to and hire at UIC and academic availabilities of national doctoral degree recipients. The committee should also seek to determine the causes of misalignment between the percentage of underrepresented and underserved faculty hired and those tenured and promoted.
Subgoal 3.2: Aggressively recruit a diverse, dynamic, and academically excellent faculty.
- Continue mandatory workshops for search committees and committee chairs each fall with an emphasis on how to identify and attract outstanding candidates from underrepresented and underserved groups.
- Encourage those departments with few or no minority faculty or that traditionally have a small percentage of minority applicants to work closely with WISEST and other groups that can offer specific suggestions about how to find and attract qualified minority applicants.
- Continue to offer incentives to departments that consider candidates from underrepresented and underserved groups, such as funding an extra campus visit if one of the invitees is from such a group. Develop additional incentives and regularly assess their effectiveness.
- Develop new strategies for encouraging members from underrepresented groups who have received offers from UIC to accept them.
- Building on the chancellor’s cluster hire initiative, encourage and actively solicit cluster hiring proposals that will attract faculty from underrepresented and underserved groups.
Subgoal 3.3: Mentor and support faculty from underrepresented and underserved groups to foster their professional development and success.
- Make use of Office of Diversity climate surveys and related data to identify and remove barriers to professional development faced by faculty from underrepresented and underserved groups.
- Create well-defined policies to ensure that faculty from underrepresented and underserved groups, especially those who hold joint appointments, do not bear a disproportionately large committee/service load.
- Encourage pathways to leadership, taking care to do so in a way that does not create an overwhelming service burden.
- Work with faculty involved in community-based and engaged research to develop a presentation for departments, executive officers, and the LAS Executive Committee that explains the nature of this research and the criteria used to evaluate it, enabling those involved in promotion and tenure decisions to take such research into account in an informed way when assessing candidates.
Goal 4: Staff
The administrative, professional, and support staff will reflect the diverse demographics of Chicago and the nation. As with students and faculty, the goal is not simply to have a diverse staff, but to guarantee that members of underserved and underrepresented groups are given the opportunity to flourish and develop in staff careers.
Subgoal 4.1: Determine and collect relevant data.
- At the beginning of its first year, the Diversity and Equity Committee should make it a priority to partner with the Office of Diversity to determine what data are needed to address this goal, what are available, and what methods can be used to obtain data not currently available. To the extent that the percentages of staff applying, hired, and promoted are misaligned determine the sources of this misalignment.
- The committee should supplement and refine subgoals 4.2 and4.3 based on their review of data when available, with particular attention to the different needs of staff in different circumstances.
Subgoal 4.2: Encourage units to support and promote the professional development of staff from underrepresented and underserved groups
- As specified in the Campus Diversity Plan, promote awareness and use of existing career development opportunities for staff, particularly the Life Long Educational Advancement Program (LLEAP).
- As specified in the Campus Diversity Plan, annual evaluations will include a section on development opportunities or support granted.
- Create a professional development funding source in the college to which staff can apply in order to create (e.g., organizing a meeting on a relevant topic) or take advantage of (e.g. travel to conferences) professional development opportunities.
- Actively encourage staff from underrepresented and underserved groups to participate in campus committees, making sure that that there are policies in place to ensure that doing so does not result in an increased work burden.
- Actively encourage staff to attend and participate in campus events.