College Diversity Initiative
At the College of the Environment Fall Retreat in October 2015, our faculty and staff made a commitment to address issues of diversity and inclusion within the college. The first step in meeting this commitment was to form an Ad Hoc Diversity Committee made up of faculty, staff, and student volunteers. Upon formation of the committee, the dean provided a written charge to accomplish the following:
[R]igorously review our college climate, recruitment and retention systems (including scholarship distributions), curriculum, and hiring and professional development practices, in order to develop a comprehensive diversity plan that will increase equity and inclusion, ultimately leading to a College community that reflects the diverse society of which we are a part.
To accomplish these goals, the committee met regularly throughout 2015. At the first meeting, committee members elected Dr. Nabil Kamel from the Environmental Studies department to chair the committee. Other early steps included coming up with a definition of “diversity” that matches the college's culture; accumulating baseline diversity statistics for the college; assessing the college climate with regards to issues of diversity and inclusion; and meeting with students, staff, and faculty to obtain feedback on both existing and potential future diversity efforts.
Throughout the year, committee members conducted research efforts, shared expertise and opinions, and worked on assessments and reporting in a collaborative team effort. The committee also sought input from experts across Western’s campus and reviewed diversity and inclusion plans and practices from peer institutions and comparable disciplines. By the end of spring quarter, the committee was ready to present a draft of the plan for college approval.
In May, the draft plan circulated among faculty and staff members for review. Then, at the final all-college meeting of the year in June, committee members presented a report on their work and asked for feedback on the plan. After a short period of discussion, the college unanimously approved the College Diversity Plan.