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Message to the Northwestern Community on Diversity and Inclusion

Over the past year significant effort has been given into identifying and implementing ways to better create and support a diverse and inclusive campus community at Northwestern. We would like to take this opportunity to update you on these efforts and restate our on-going commitment to support a diverse and inclusive campus community; a community that fosters the personal and intellectual growth of our students by bringing together faculty, students, and staff from different backgrounds and perspectives to engage in a mutual exchange of ideas and experiences. This letter provides an update on what has been achieved to date and on efforts planned and underway.   

In addition to the already existing roles to support our diversity and inclusion efforts, three new staffing appointments have been made to create a stronger infrastructure. In April of 2012 Dona Cordero assumed the role of Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, in September 2012 Lesley-Ann Brown assumed the role of Director of Campus Inclusion and Community within the Division of Student Affairs and in October 2012 Devin Moss was hired as the new full-time Director of the LGBT Resource Center. This position had previously been a part-time position.

Recently, a Diversity Leaders’ Group (those with formal responsibility for diversity and inclusion efforts across the university) was formed to begin strengthening a coordinated approach to addressing institutional issues of diversity and inclusion. It is comprised of the Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Director of Equal Opportunity and Access, Assistant Dean for Student Life and Multicultural Affairs, Director of Community and Inclusion (Student Affairs), Executive Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, Director of the Women’s Center, Director of Diversity and Inclusion - Kellogg, Director of Minority Affairs - Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Director of Diversity Education and Outreach - Law School.

The Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion chairs the University Diversity Council, which was established in 2012 and is comprised of faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The Council has been working to identify efforts and strategies to move the University forward. The Council has utilized five working groups focusing on key areas of improvement.

  • An Academics/Education working group has drafted a proposal to establish a diversity curricular and co-curricular requirement for undergraduate students. This proposal is the first ever university requirement and will be reviewed by deans and faculty for final approval. It was recently shared with individuals throughout the University community to get different perspectives and will soon be presented to the Council of Deans for further discussion and a determination of next steps.
  • A Faculty Recruitment and Retention working group is determining the type of support and resources that can be provided to faculty search committees in order to support the recruitment of underrepresented faculty. 
  • A Pipeline working group is developing an outreach and recruitment database to better identify and track opportunities to increase student diversity and expose underrepresented students to Northwestern, and will determine how to better leverage existing efforts and create new opportunities.
  • A Campus Life working group has worked to identify existing events and programming that foster inclusion and is working on ways to better communicate opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage with one another.
  • A Lifetime Connections working group has identified ways to increase underrepresented alumni engagement with the university community.

These working groups will continue to provide support to the Council’s ongoing efforts.

The Director of Campus Inclusion and Community has formed a task force of graduate and undergraduate students to assist with the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and programs related to diversity and inclusion over the next year. This coming spring will see the implementation of the Sustained Dialogue (SD) methodology. SD provides a tool that helps students make time to understand the different perspectives of individuals they otherwise would not meet, and equips students with communication skills necessary for increasingly diverse academic, social, and work environments.

There has also been progress on creating and maintaining an open and supportive environment. The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) has been established, which is a group of administrators who are committed to creating a proactive response to instances of hate and bias. When a student reports a bias/hate incident through Respect NU one of the BIRT members will support the student, connect them with the appropriate resources, and follow-up with them until the situation has been resolved.   

These are some of the many efforts we are making to create and sustain the type of learning and living community that we strive to be. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact any of the members of the Diversity Leaders Group.

Morton Schapiro, 
Daniel Linzer, 
Patricia Telles-Irvin, 
Vice President for Student Affairs
Dona Cordero, 
Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion

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