Task Force on Inclusive Initiatives

In the spring of 2018, in response to the Nassar scandal, Interim Dean Cheryl Sisk and the NatSci Faculty Advisory Council created a Task Force on Inclusive Initiatives, which was charged to: (1) Evaluate suggestions from the NatSci Council on Diversity and Community (CDC) and comments from NatSci college and department town halls to advance diversity and inclusion within NatSci; (2) Conduct a NatSci climate assessment survey to identify areas where we are doing well and areas in need of improvement (to be completed by the MSU Office of Survey Research in Spring 2019); and (3) Develop recommendations for NatSci to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within all NatSci settings (e.g., classrooms, research laboratories, workplaces). 

Task Force on Inclusive Initiatives Full Report 

 

Actions Underway

1. Change the Bylaws to Create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee.

A DEI Advisory Committee will replace the Council on Diversity and Community (CDC) in fall 2019. The DEI Advisory Committee (DEIAC) shall recommend, review, and evaluate policies and programs that affect the diversity of the faculty, staff, and students of NatSci, as well as the inclusivity efforts of the college. This includes advising and consulting with the Dean and units and offices in the six focus areas identified by the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives to guide DEI initiatives for all MSU units: 1) Leadership; 2) Access, Retention, Advancement (applicable to faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students); 3) Research; 4) Curriculum (formal and informal); 5) Campus Climate; and 6) External Engagement.

2. Conduct a College Climate Survey.
MSU Office of Survey Research Survey was hired to conduct a college-wide climate survey in Spring 2019. Final data analysis is underway and the report will be released to college members in Fall 2019.

3. Create a NatSci Diversity and Inclusion Website.

4. Establish a College-level Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Position.

The task force recommended the creation of  for a full-time DEI Director, Assistant Dean, or Associate Dean position within the College.

5. Develop and Sustain a System of Training and Workshops for Diversity and Inclusion.

Karen Pace, director of Pace 4 Change, and Dionardo Pizaña, diversity and personnel specialist, Michigan State University Extension, were hired to develop a day-long training, Cultural competency for personal, organizational and community change, on cultural competency, group identities, power and privilege, and the four levels of oppression, as well as to develop a NatSci facilitation team to lead this workshop and future diversity and inclusion trainings for the college. They led trainings on Jan. 15 and 23, 2019 for a mixed group of NatSci senior leaders/chairs/directors, faculty, staff, and graduate students. Between February and April 2019, they led a six-day train-the-trainer workshop for thirteen members of NatSci to learn to lead the cultural competency workshop. A second set of the cultural competency workshops were offered on April 10 and 11, 2019, led by Karen and Dionardo with assistance from the new NatSci facilitation team. The NatSci facilitation team will be offering the cultural competency workshop several times each semester, starting in fall 2019. Faculty, staff, specialists, postdocs and graduated students within in NatSci will be invited to participate.   

Recommendations for Future Actions

6. Write and post a NatSci diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mission statement.

NatSci should develop a DEI statement which shows the college’s commitment to improve campus climate and create equitable experiences for all students, faculty, and staff.

7. Develop a DEI Strategic Plan for the College.

NatSci should develop specific college-level inclusion goals and a timeline to accomplish them that align with the six focus areas identified by the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives to guide DEI initiatives for all MSU units (see bylaws changes).

8. Increase and Improve Hiring of Diverse Faculty and Staff.

  • NatSci should create language to be included in NatSci job ads about NatSci’s commitment to diversity, based on the college-level DEI statement.
  • Job requirements in the College of NatSci should reflect that candidates are expected to understand the challenges faced by members of underrepresented groups in higher education and actively participate in inclusive practices.
  • NatSci should encourage broader searches for faculty positions. Extremely targeted hires in restrictively-specified research areas are less likely to yield qualified representatives from underrepresented groups, since candidates from minoritized groups currently make up a tiny fraction of the potential candidate pool in many fields.
  • Candidates for all NatSci faculty and staff positions should be required to submit diversity and inclusion statements as part of their application packets.
  • Interviews for all faculty and staff positions should be required to include questions regarding the candidate’s experience with diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  • NatSci should retain oversight of faculty and staff candidate pools to ensure that that they include a diverse group of candidates.

9. Incorporate equity and Inclusion-related goals as part of annual reviews, and reappointment, promotion and tenure.

  • Implement changes to faculty and staff annual reviews that require a commitment to inclusive excellence, as demonstrated by setting and meeting annual diversity and inclusion goals.
  • Implement changes to promotion and tenure policies to recognize contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all promotion and tenure decisions.

10. Evaluation of New Tools for Teaching Evaluation

Research existing assessment tools on the market for evaluating teaching, that could be implemented in place of the current or a redesigned SIRS form. One example that is utilized by the Lyman Briggs College is the Student Assessment of their Learning Gains https://salgsite.net/.

11. Recommend Inclusive Language for Syllabi.

Recommend that all faculty include inclusion content in their syllabi, including how to report bias/sexual assault.

12. Feedback Mechanism on Faculty Mentoring

Develop annual feedback mechanisms (e.g. written surveys) for mentors and mentees that are consistent, constructive, anonymous, evidence-based, and also recorded and retained.