College of the Environment Diversity Committee Charge

Date: October 8, 2015
To: Huxley College Ad Hoc Diversity Committee
From: Steve Hollenhorst
RE: Ad Hoc Diversity Committee Charge

Commitment to diversity and inclusion is a core value of Western Washington University. It is a fundamental aspect of our Mission and Strategic Planning Goals, and infuses every aspect of our culture. As a public university, it is essential that Western reflect the diverse culture in which we are embedded and embrace our responsibility to provide access for those who have historically and structurally been excluded from higher education opportunities. Doing so makes us stronger and better.

As a university, we have made good progress over the past several decades. For instance, students of color now represent close to 30% of our enrollment, closely mirroring the growing diversity of Washington State’s population. Yet we still have a long way to go to build an inclusive and supportive culture that reflects our increasingly multi-cultural identity. We also lag with respect to the diversity of our faculty and staff, as evidenced by the fact that people of color constitute only 17% of our workforce.

This is particularly a challenge in Huxley. Reflecting a national problem faced by environmental science and studies programs, enrollment by students of color in Huxley is close to half that of Western, and our faculty/staff representation is less than 4%.

This is why it critical that we make diversity and inclusion a top priority of the college in the coming years. While prominent in our college strategic plan, we’ve yet to identify and implement a cohesive set of actions aimed at increasing our diversity and creating a culture of inclusion.

The charge to the Huxley College Ad Hoc Diversity Committee is to rigorously 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 Huxley College community that reflects the diverse society of which we are a part.

Specifically, the Huxley Diversity Committee (HDC) will:

  • Appoint a Chair from among its membership.
  • Coordinate work with the President’s Task Force on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, along with the efforts of the Huxley College Academic Department and the Dean’s office.
  • Develop a work plan and schedule that makes use of the Department of Environmental Studies diversity plan roadmap and resources identified therein.
  • Inventory and review current diversity efforts, programs, and initiatives in Huxley, with an eye toward building on these points of pride.
  • Consider best practices elsewhere, particularly among other environmental academic programs.
  • While looking at best practices, do not hesitate to consider the experimental and innovative.
  • Engage the Huxley Community (students, faculty, staff, alums, supporters) in your processes and gather input in ways that encourages frank discussion and identification of innovative solutions.
  • Maintain a website that documents the committee’s work and for gathering input.
  • Provide information, if called upon, at a all-college and/or Policy Committee meeting.
  • By May 15, 2016, submit a draft Diversity Plan to the Dean, along with ancillary documentation.

Deliverable: Draft Huxley College Diversity Plan submitted to the Dean. The dean will then submit the draft plan to the Huxley Policy Committee and eventually the entire college community for approval and implementation.

Duration: Spring 2016. The Committee’s recommendations may include extension or the establishment of a permanent diversity implementation committee.

The dean’s office will provide administrative support for the committee’s work. The dean’s office will also assist with web pages and other communication needs.

If you have any questions or concerns along the way, please feel free to involve me in any way I can be helpful to the process.

Steve Hollenhorst
Dean, Huxley College of the Environment