OIDI implementing strategic plan

Newswire photo by Kevin Thomas | The new Office of Institutional Diversity and Conclusion (OIDI) is located on the first floor of the McDonald Memorial Library. The office’s five-year plan was approved in May and will be implemented this year.

The new Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) is located on the first floor of the McDonald Memorial Library. The office’s five-year plan was approved in May and will be implemented this year.

Xavier’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) is expected to be in the spotlight this year as it launches its new five-year strategic plan for 2017-2022.

The plan, approved in May by Xavier’s Board of Trustees, is providing a “new vision for the office,” according to Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Janice Walker. She describes the plan as “ambitious” but also “comprehensive.”

The strategic plan has been a work in progress for most of the 2016-2017 academic year and is now in full implementation.

The OIDI is a newer part of Xavier’s campus. Walker stepped into the officer role in October 2016, just before the release of Xavier’s climate survey results, the presidential election and the back-to-back racial incidents on campus.

“The implementation of the (plan) is critically important, especially in light of the rhetoric and events in our country today,” Walker said.

The results of the 2016 climate survey as well as the racial incidents from last year helped inform the strategic plan. The office had at least 11 meetings with students and faculty (including panels of women, faculty of color, international students, etc.) about how to respond to the climate survey results.

Events such as Courageous Conversations and the 2016 Bias Advisory Response Team (BART) forum also gave the office clarity to the “experiences and perceptions of people at the university,” Walker explained. These events helped the office decide on goals and “what we need to see happen at the university.”

The Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan has six goals. For example, the first goal is “create and maintain a welcoming, inclusive and equitable campus climate characterized by support and respect for all members of the university community.”

All six goals and the full 14-page plan can be found at xavier.edu/diversity.

With the new OIDI came a new organizational structure requiring the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) to report to Walker and Walker to report to Fr. Michael Graham, president. There was no office or Chief Diversity Officer (now the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer) from November 2013 to October 2016, but now the OIDI is fully staffed.

As a part of the plan’s fourth goal, there is a pilot Diversity and Inclusion Teaching Academy this fall. The program was created as a collaboration among the OIDI, CTE and faculty with expertise in gender and diversity studies. The program will consist of about 30 faculty members split into two groups. Faculty will complete 14 60-90 minute modules (mostly online) that include videos and articles, and the program will help develop diversity competencies such as “awareness of self/privilege.”

Moreover, faculty will learn how to implement inclusive teaching strategies and how to facilitate difficult but crucial conversations in the classroom. Walker hopes that eventually all faculty will go through this program.

Part of the strategic plan includes incentivizing faculty to learn about diversity and inclusion as well as providing them with resources to incorporate it into their courses.
Faculty members have an annual update with their department chairs and deans, and Walker hopes that diversity and inclusion will now be a natural place in the evaluation update when faculty members summarize their year of teaching. This means that faculty can be recognized and potentially rewarded monetarily for work in diversity and inclusion, just as how one may receive merit in other sections such as publications, research or mentorship.

“If the university values diversity and inclusion, then I would like for it to be, in some way, faculty can see that in the evaluation,” Walker said. She hopes that, if faculty know that diversity and inclusion is a part of their evaluation, they will be incentivized to include it in their courses and work at Xavier or through giving talks and presentations at conferences. “We want the faculty to get some ‘credit,’ in the sense of this is a service that we value at the university,” Walker said. “We want it to be acknowledged and recognized and seen as valuable to who we are and what we are trying to achieve as an institution… I want the (diversity and inclusion) training to be recognized, and I want people who create courses, people who mentor students of color, people who do all kinds of things that make us more diverse and inclusive (to be recognized).”

Diversity and inclusion is also being strengthened across campus in areas like Manresa, Smooth Transitions and GOA. The Diversity Flag core curriculum is being expanded and updated as well, including the support of developing new courses.

According to Walker, the OIDI will be leading and driving the implementation of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan.

By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Campus News Editor~