University leaders outline initiative to improve racial equity, inclusion

· 3 min read

University leaders outline initiative to improve racial equity, inclusion

Broad plan includes multiple action items arranged across five themes
Growing vaccination rates and limited on-campus spread of COVID-19 are allowing the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to return to a random mitigation testing strategy.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is taking the next step in its long-term journey to strengthen diversity, inclusivity and equity across all areas of the institution.

After months of consideration, consultation and planning, campus leaders announced Nov. 17 a commitment of action that includes a series of measures that the university will take in the coming months. Arranged under five themes, the actions all link to the university’s N2025 strategic plan and will be actively monitored for progress.

“This is not a one-and-done plan,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “It is one step in our long-term, and critically important, journey to a more diverse, inclusive and equitable university.

“And, it will be an active process for us to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, student development, instructional operations and engagement in local and global communities.”

The five themes, each of which includes the reason for importance, multiple actions, the status of each action, timeline for completion, and the campus unit leading the work, include:

  • Advancing Diversity and Inclusion Across the Institution — Develop strategies, programs and supports to attract, recruit, retain and support students, staff and faculty from racially minoritized populations;

  • Positioning Academic Excellence and Learning Through Diversity — Strengthen and elevate the expertise and scholarship across the institution and within academic departments and curricula that address race and diversity;

  • Promoting Community, Sense of Belonging and Mattering — Promote equity and inclusion within our practices and supports, and foster an inclusive institutional climate for belonging, racial equity and mattering;

  • Building and Sustaining Anti-Racist Infrastructure and Accountability — Examine and revise existing policies and practices; promote a culture of transparency and accountability; and revisit the institution’s history, iconography and representation; and

  • Acknowledging the Impact of COVID-19 on Communities who are Under-resourced or Racially Minoritized — Seek local, regional and national data to gauge the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on under-resourced and ethnically-diverse communities; and review university policies to ensure they are equitable, clearly communicated, and follow behaviors that respect and support the health and safety of the campus and other related communities.

The commitment document also includes information on how individual campus units can take action to assist with the journey; and an overview to better understand racism.

“At UNL, inclusive excellence means we integrate diversity, equity and educational quality into our missions and operations,” Green said. “Our continued efforts will bring bright minds to our campus and our state, provide opportunities to excel, enhance our educational offerings, invigorate our research capabilities, build success for more students, and help create a vibrant workforce for Nebraska.”

The commitment to action is available for review here.

The commitment is based on recommendations provided by multiple individuals and units across the university, including the co-leaders of the Journey for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity. The co-leaders worked with Green and Marco Barker, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, to organize the recommendations into the five themes and provided the report to the university’s executive leadership team.

Information about the university’s ongoing journey and the co-leaders is available here

“For nearly 153 years, the University of Nebraska has been working to provide access to exceptional higher education, and to spark research and creative activity that enriches our state and improves its economic vitality,” Green said. “Today is a path forward in part of that overall effort — one we are absolutely committed to continue.”

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