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Joint Retreat: Progress on Diversity and Inclusiveness Initiatives

On February 17-18, 2017, the Joint Provost/Academic Senate Retreat that focused on “Making Progress on Climate, Safety and Wellness.”  This is part 1 of the 3 part summary of the sessions.

Session 1: Progress on Diversity and Inclusiveness Initiatives
Chair: Renee Smith-Maddox from Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

The first session of the joint retreat provided an update on the progress made on diversity and inclusion initiatives in the past year.  The vision for these initiatives was described in  the Fall 2015 memo from Provost Quick, “Access and Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion”.

Michael Quick, Provost, kicked off the session by providing an overview of initiatives that target schools, students, faculty, administration, and the local community.  

  • All schools are completing 5-year diversity plans, to be reviewed by both the Provost’s office and USC’s Diversity Council. The goal is to have them in place by Fall 2017.  
  • The recent Diversity and Inclusion Week activities were successful, with 800 participants. He discussed how we can get even more people involved in the future.
  • Underrepresented undergraduate students received $80M in scholarships.  We are doing well with Latino applicants and also converting them to attend USC; we are also doing well with African-American applicants, but not with converting them.  There are issues around experiential parity, such as study abroad, and the Provost’s office is working towards bridging that gap.  
  • Underrepresented graduate/post-doctoral students received $11M of Provost funding towards access and opportunity.  
  • There is a joint fund of $3.5M for recruitment of underrepresented faculty.  
  • Diversity in administration, which includes Deans’ offices and the Provost office, is better than among faculty.  
  • We continue to partner with and make an impact in the local community through programs such as: South Central Scholars, where USC provides faculty and rooms, USC Stem Cell Day of Discovery, where 500 kids participated, and the formation of a Community Advisory Board that advises DPS.  
  • More resources continued to be focused in this area, including the creation of the new USC Race and Equity Center, to be led by Professor Shaun Harper.

Ginger Clark, from Rossier School of Education, provided an update from the Diversity Council.  Last year a Diversity Task Force was created as outlined in Provost’s “Access and Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion” memo.  The Task Force spent the Spring semester carefully reviewing resolutions from the Academic Senate, Graduate Student and Undergraduate Student Governments, and identify 9 proposals which were sent to the Provost.  The Provost responded with his “Update: Access and Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion” (April 2016) memo, which accepted many of the proposals, including the creation of a permanent Diversity Council that has representation from faculty, staff, and students.  This year, the council has been focusing on a specific set of tasks.  

  • The council has created a proposal for the structure and process for a community advisory board that advises DPS
  • The council has developed a structure and process for a task force on implementing a recurring campus climate survey,
  • The council has almost completed its review of all 19 schools’ Diversity and Inclusion Plans.

Jody Armor from Gould School of Law and Debra Langford from the Marshall School of Business provided an update from the Diversity Liaisons.

  • In November of 2015, the resolutions from the Academic Senate, Graduate Student and Undergraduate Student Governments included the request for a dedicated diversity officer. The University created a different model, with a representative – the Diversity Liaison – in each of the 19 schools, accountable to the Dean and with a reporting relationship to one of three Associate Provosts for Faculty and Student Initiatives.
  • In Spring 2016, the Provost’s Task Force developed job descriptions for these Diversity Liaisons positions. Several schools also chose to name additional individuals for their D&I efforts and currently there are 35 people engaged in dedicated diversity efforts within the 19 schools.
  • Diversity Liaisons are charged with helping guide their schools through required 5-year Diversity plans, which were submitted at the end of 2016 to the Provost. These plans are currently under review.
  • Reached out to the Diversity Liaisons and received 70 developments and chose one best practice from 14 schools to highlight.  Click here for the full highlights and best practices.

Shaun Harper from University of Pennsylvania will soon be relocating to USC, and he discussed his plans for the new USC Race and Equity Center.  He described racial inequity as ‘America’s original sin’ that provides enormous challenges, but also opportunities to make good on our mission.  Based on the wonderful momentum he has observed at USC, he feels that USC can be a national model for diversity and inclusion, and he will be bringing a team with him to USC from University of Pennsylvania to create the new center.

“Over the next five years, USC will amass a national reputation for its leadership on racial equity in the United States. Its Race & Equity Center will be the epicenter for interdisciplinary scholarship, resources, and meaningful activities that significantly benefit the University, other institutions of higher education, and the broader society.”

Click here for the full vision for the USC Race & Equity Center.

To discuss go to our Facebook post.

Mike Lee
Secretary General of the Academic Senate
Senior Lecturer of Digital Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Systems
Viterbi School of Engineering