Investing in Inclusion
January 26, 2016
Dear Students, Staff and Faculty:
Student voices, both nationally and on our campus, have demonstrated convincingly that college campuses must lead the way to ensure a more enduring, just and inclusive society. We have heard the call that challenges us to identify and eliminate barriers to full inclusion and equity in ways that are visible, tangible and transformative. We respond to this call by committing our attention, our time and our resources, in the short term and long term, to making inclusion a top priority of the college. To do this, we as a community—students, staff and faculty—will need to commit to working on a shared agenda that we construct. In our roles as president and chief diversity officer, we write to outline a series of first steps. We look forward to working with Smith’s Student Government Association, Staff Council, Faculty Council and other groups on campus to build on this agenda.
Here are some of the actions you will see this semester:
- We will hire an additional staff member in the Office of Multicultural Affairs to focus on student development, provide robust cultural programming and provide greater support to our Unity organizations.
- We will expand the Inclusion Council, formerly known as the President’s Diversity Council, to include more faculty, staff and students from across campus to better advance its work in developing an inclusion strategic plan and to advocate for transformational change. The council will play a leadership role in this work.
- In partnership with the SGA, we will hold facilitated listening sessions with students to learn from their experiences.
In addition, this spring and beyond, we will build on some of our previous work:
Continue to diversify the college: The Provost’s Office and the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity have been working with faculty search committee chairs to apply best practices in inclusive recruitment and selection; we look forward to another round of such hiring this spring. With a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we aim to hire a substantial cohort of faculty from underrepresented groups who will bring emerging methodologies and diversity to our curriculum. Further, we have increased our work with admission and human resources to ensure that we select from diverse pools of applicants.
Promote full inclusion in our classrooms, houses and workplace: Last semester, with the help of the Inclusion Council, we began developing a comprehensive Campus Climate Survey. This instrument will be refined in the coming months and administered to all in the fall. The data it provides about the experiences of our students, staff and faculty will lead to further tangible actions to improve the lived experience of all in our community.
Provide sustained education on living, learning and working in an intercultural context: Last fall, we developed and launched training for faculty on creating inclusive classrooms. It was incorporated into orientation for new faculty and into the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning’s programming for all faculty. Participation in both programs was strong and supported faculty members’ desire to develop further programming. We will continue and expand similar training for students and staff.
Inclusion must be inherent in Smith’s mission, and it will be reflected in the strategic decisions and investments we make as a college going forward. Breaking down systemic exclusion requires intentional action in every part of our community. The work must be visible and it must be felt. Together, we can create transformational change toward a just and inclusive campus.
Dwight K. Hamilton
Chief Diversity Officer