President, provost endorse push for campuswide diversity plan

Saying diversity has to be the work of the entire university and not just committees, interim UO President Scott Coltrane has asked the Universitywide Diversity Committee to look for ways to make equity and inclusion part of the everyday work of every part of campus.

“First of all, we firmly believe that equity, inclusion and diversity are the work of everyone, not just a select few or a particular department,” Coltrane said at the committee’s first meeting for 2014-15. “I ask our colleagues, friends of the university and community partners to work with us in assembling an overarching, strategic framework for equity, inclusion and diversity, as well as individual plans for every unit on our campus.”

Faculty members and staff from around the university gathered in the Knight Library on Tuesday, Oct. 14, for the meeting, which was led by Coltrane and acting Provost Frances Bronet. The agenda focused on how to expand diversity and inclusion on the UO campus and the key steps toward a major overhaul of the campuswide diversity plan approved in 2006.

Coltrane said the work would involve five major components: a succinct public statement setting out the university’s commitment to diversity, crafting the policy structure that encourages it, finding the funding to carry out initiatives and setting priorities. On that last point, Coltrane said he’d like to see some early success to build momentum.

“We can’t do everything at once,” he said. “I think we have to have some early wins in this process so we can get massive buy-in. It’s really important that we pick the things that are doable and that we accomplish something that’s measureable.”

Bronet added to the idea of the main framework by stating that one of the main goals of the Universitywide Diversity Committee was to “attract a high quality of diverse students and promote student access, success and retention.”

One of the first things Coltrane asked for help with is crafting the public statement on the UO’s commitment to diversity, something that can appear on the president’s and provost’s web pages and represents the commitment of the entire campus. And he acknowledged that the university’s central leadership needs to play more of a role.

“The main message is that diversity is a key component of our mission and something we need to reaffirm from the top and at all levels of the institution,” Coltrane said.

Coltrane stressed this would be a long-term and perhaps difficult project. He said a draft framework put together last year has 65 different “entry points” for diversity action, illustrating the scope of the task.

A working draft of the university diversity plan, edited by Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh, was made available at the meeting as well. The draft included preliminary timelines and benchmarks that the university hopes to accomplish over the coming year.

—By Nathan Stevens, Public Affairs Communications intern