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Excellence through Diversity at NC State

NC State faculty, students and staff:

In my first 100 days as your new vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, I have had the opportunity to observe the hard work and commitment of NC State toward creating and maintaining an inclusive community. From the work done under my direction within the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity to efforts taking place all across campus within the colleges and divisions, it is clear that diversity and inclusion are priorities at NC State.

As a member of the chancellor’s cabinet, I have begun to advise the chancellor and campus colleagues on matters of diversity, equity and how we can work together in order to improve the educational and workplace experience of all of our faculty, students and staff.

As your chief diversity officer, I am deeply committed to ensuring that the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion are integral to all facets of NC State, from academics to campus life to community involvement and beyond.

My staff and I will share with you periodic updates on our work in OIED and ongoing collaborations with other campus stakeholders. We will conduct a close examination of all of NC State’s divisions to learn where we excel and where we can do more. My office will seek to understand our processes, university-wide, and to find answers, for example, to the following questions:

How can we improve our abilities to attract and retain faculty, students and staff from underrepresented groups?

 One initiative currently underway in this area is the development of cultural competency training as an educational opportunity for faculty, students and staff or a combination of these campus populations, with established outcomes and expectations, either individually or on a unit/division level. Making the commitment to engage NC State community members in cultural competency sends a message to prospective faculty, students and staff that we do more than speak about the necessity of being able to competently interact in a diverse and global society.

 We have worked with the NC State Police Department to launch unconscious bias training. Arguably, unconscious or implicit bias may be a far greater problem than conscious bias and must be recognized and addressed to ensure a fair playing field. See go.ncsu.edu/oied-education to learn more and sign up for this training.

 The chancellor has appointed a task force to assess efforts to recruit, admit and retain graduate students from underrepresented groups. This group will review all ongoing efforts to recruit outstanding students to NC State from underrepresented groups, examine how we can better convert those admitted to enrolled students and also look at how we can better support our underrepresented students to ensure their success at NC State.

How can we intentionally work toward all of our populations having what they need to succeed at NC State?

 One initiative currently underway in this area is an analysis of how we currently serve underrepresented students in our campus community centers. As our student body becomes increasingly more diverse, we must work to best allocate our resources to serve the needs of many groups. While acknowledging the continuing need for budgetary prudence and making the most of existing resources, we recognize that we may also need to serve more students. This may involve restructuring the community centers to serve common needs in a more unified way.

 We continue to be very mindful of our religious diversity by working to provide interfaith prayer and meditation spaces for all faculty, students and staff, spaces that are an important part of the daily lives of many. Spaces have been designated on both Centennial Campus and Main Campus, with a new space in Witherspoon Student Center, Room 204 that opened in September. Please see go.ncsu.edu/spaces-interfaith for a full listing of all spaces on campus.

 We will assist in the effort led by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs to review the General Education Program’s Diversity Course Requirement by considering which NC State courses currently qualify as a U.S. Diversity course and whether adjustments should be made.

 We are currently reassessing the role and objectives of the University Diversity Advisory Committee to optimize this group for effective service to the university. We will revisit its purpose, define whom it serves and clarify how it will accomplish its goals.

How can we better reflect and support NC State’s strong commitment to diversity in our operations, mission and strategic planning?

 One initiative currently underway in this area is the implementation of a university-wide bias incident response (BIRT) team and system. In place at many universities, the bias incident response system will enable NC State to better support individuals and communities who are impacted by incidents that are reported through existing avenues on campus and reviewed by our Equal Opportunity and Equity unit to ensure adherence to university policy, to ensure due process and to determine incidents of bias. The system will track patterns of bias across campus to provide information about those incidents and how the university responds. We will then be able to examine the details and circumstances of the incidents in order to decrease and eliminate future occurrences.

 With University Communications, we have created a higher-level web presence for diversity on the NC State home page that will better inform the campus community and the general public about diversity-related news and developments. You will find this new resource on the NC State website at www.ncsu.edu/diversity. University Communications will also work with us to educate and inform the campus community about the Bias Incident Response Team and other diversity-related developments.

 I encourage you to consider subscribing to the Diversity Digest, our weekly newsletter, at go.ncsu.edu/digest and following us on social media @NCStateOIED.

We look forward to your participation in the dialogue as we work with intentionality to “raise the bar” in making NC State welcoming and inclusive for all faculty, students and staff.

 

Linda McCabe Smith
Vice Provost
Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity

 

Related Links:

• “Understanding Implicit Bias,” The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Ohio State University, 2015.

• “Cultural Competence: The Nuts and Bolts of Diversity and Inclusion,” Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management, Mercedes Martin and Billy Vaughn, DTUI Publications, San Francisco, CA, 2007.