July 14, 2016

SIU board adopts framework for system-wide diversity initiatives

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees today (July 14) unanimously adopted a framework for system-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Meeting at the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, board members approved a framework that includes awareness-building activities, student-focused initiatives, human resources/personnel development, and organizational development.

SIU President Randy Dunn said the framework reflects the board’s belief that every SIU campus and location “reflect a culture that values diversity and inclusivity in all its forms.”

“This is not designed to replace comprehensive diversity plans on our campuses,” Dunn said. “Our board members want to draw attention to the priority they place – a priority shared across our system – on diversity and inclusivity. We expect that constituency groups on the campuses will implement various elements of this new initiative.”

Board members initially discussed creation of a set of diversity-related initiatives during a December 2015 work session. In March 2016, the board reviewed a draft set of system-wide initiatives with a panel of officers from SIU’s underrepresented faculty and staff organizations, including their written analysis of the document, and suggested a range of specific activities and events.

The board approved the draft document in May. Subsequently, the chief diversity officers from SIU Edwardsville, SIU Carbondale and the medical school provided additional input to finalize the framework approved today. The goal is for full implementation of these initiatives during the current fiscal year:

Awareness-Building Activities

  • Establish a signature Trustees’ lecture focusing exclusively on diversity and inclusion that will rotate among the three campuses on an annual basis.
  • Establish a system-wide diversity or inclusivity excellence award for individuals or organizations to highlight a model of excellence created within an academic or academic support unit.
  • Create a prominent link to the SIU System webpage to spotlight diversity efforts across all campuses and locations.

Student-Focused Initiatives

  • Partner with social service agencies, schools, community development groups and similar organizations to support opportunities and events for students around issues of diversity and inclusion.
  • Sponsor an annual system-wide student conference/summit on race, diversity and inclusion – building on the success of various campus meetings and workshops that have been held.

Human Resources/Personnel Development

  • Following a thorough review in light of recent legal decisions, expand resource support for campus-based strategic hiring programs with the goal of increasing diversity in tenure-track faculty and professional staff hires.
  • Provide resources to support campus initiatives to host networking, meetings, professional development, mentoring and related events for faculty and staff – and consider at least one similar event held at the system level.
  • Provide for a dedicated “chief diversity officer” position at the three campuses that is consistent in overall practice and scope with respect to title, tasks, duties, initiatives and placement on each campus’s organizational chart, and without added responsibilities for other administrative management functions.
  • Develop a resource or provider pool for utilization system-wide to provide cultural competency training applicable to all organizational units or groups, incorporating customized professional development sessions, workshops, coaching and other programs.

Organizational Development

  • Establish a system-wide President’s Advisory Council comprised of the three SIU chief diversity officers as well as representatives from impacted campus constituencies that would meet quarterly and provide advice and counsel on issues of diversity and inclusion (and would also meet with the Board of Trustees on an annual basis).
  • Build out a campus-based “Diversity and Inclusion Online Learning Community” to provide a system-wide clearinghouse for diversity resources and tools.
  • Undertake a metric and benchmarking process on a system-wide basis to better evaluate ongoing progress toward diversity and inclusion indicators utilizing a scorecard, dashboard or some other measure. 

The board matter approved today also authorizes Dunn to establish the position of Title IX Director for the SIU System, as opposed to having separate directors for each campus location.