Campus community discusses fostering diversity and inclusion at UChicago

Recent campus forums have given members of the University of Chicago community a chance to consider and discuss the recommendations of the Diversity Advisory Council as well as the 2016 Campus Climate Survey concerning diversity and inclusion.

The Diversity Advisory Council report, released in January, offers recommendations for ways to enhance diversity at the University, and is part of a broader initiative to increase diversity and inclusion at UChicago. In a letter to share the report’s findings with the campus community, Provost Daniel Diermeier said the report will help to “find a foundation for positive change.” Adam Green, associate professor of American history and chair of the Diversity Advisory Council, said the report and discussions have helped faculty, students and staff explore the issues in a productive way.

“The 2016 Campus Climate Survey report and the DAC report are important starting points for creating a more diverse and inclusive campus,” said Melissa Gilliam, vice provost for academic leadership, advancement and diversity. “They will be enhanced through conversations with members of the UChicago community as we develop a campus-wide action plan on diversity and inclusion.”

“As a council, we recognize that the University leadership is paying attention to these issues, in part because they have charged us with this task in the first place,” Green said. “We look forward to continued discussions on these issues and to seeing these recommendations serve as a foundation to drive substantive change.”

Formed in January 2015, the Diversity Advisory Council, composed of students and faculty, was charged by the president and provost to explore broad issues related to campus climate and to suggest strategies for increasing diversity and inclusion at UChicago.

Green noted that one of the Council’s goals for the recommendations is to have the University demonstrate that it is serious about diversity and inclusion, and is actively engaged in building trust and creating conditions that allow all members of the campus community to realize their fullest potential.

The recommendations in the Council's report, along with the results of the campus climate survey on diversity and inclusion, were the topics of conversations at the campus forums. The reports and campus conversations will help inform action steps and the development of a comprehensive plan for diversity and inclusion at the University.

To arrive at the recommendations, the committee held 28 meetings with faculty, staff and students across the University to better understand the issues faced by these groups. These meetings included a series of forums for the leaders of student organizations and institutions, joint sessions with the Diversity Leadership Council, and meetings with deans and other University leaders.

In addition to the forums, the Diversity Advisory Council is in the process of speaking with general stakeholders, including deans, the Council of the University Senate, student groups and leadership, and staff, and will continue to engage in these conversations through the end of the academic year.

“It is heartening to see these conversations taking place, but as with all academic institutions, it is not enough for people of good will to come together just for discussions,” Green said. “It is important for the University to signal through involvement and engagement that they see these issues as priorities and that the entire campus community, even those who do not feel directly impacted, has something at stake.”