Oregon State University

Equity and Inclusion Thinking Group

About the Equity and Inclusion Thinking Group

August 15, 2011

Dear colleagues,

Over the course of July and August, I pulled together a “thinking group” comprising individuals from across the university to begin discussions of the equity and inclusion self-study and external review processes; a summary of the outcomes are provided below.  In order to commence with the self-study process in the fall, it was essential to start outlining the work over the summer.  The self-study will continue through fall and winter terms, an external review will be conducted during spring term, and a final report (including recommendations for actions and metrics) will be distributed at the conclusion of the process.

The self-study will be guided by a “core team” of individuals who are in service to the OSU community.  The team will be led by me and a co-chair and the process will be designed in such a way that interested individuals and groups (both on- and off-campus) will have opportunities to engage in discussions about the university’s equity and inclusion efforts. 

I recognize the importance of the self-study and am committed to a process that actively engages the community in a dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion, leading to a thoughtful and in-depth assessment of the university’s efforts in this area.  Please continue to visit the Office of Equity and Inclusion Website to read about details of the self-study and opportunities for involvement.

Sincerely,

Angelo Gomez, Interim Executive Director
Office of Equity and Inclusion
327/330 Snell Hall
Oregon State University
Phone: 541-737-3556


Equity and Inclusion Thinking Group

Membership

  • Allison Davis-White Eyes (Director, Intercultural Student Services)
  • Amelia Harris (Executive Director of Services, ASOSU)
  • Angelo Gomez (Interim Executive Director, Office of Equity and Inclusion)
  • Brenda McComb (Dean, Graduate School)
  • Dan Edge (Department Head, Fisheries and Wildlife)
  • Dan McGrath (Staff Chair and Diversity Specialist, OSU Extension)
  • Dwaine Plaza (Associate Professor, Sociology)
  • Jennifer Almquist (Equity and Compliance Associate, Office of Equity and Inclusion)
  • Karen Zimmermann (Project Support, Extension & Experiment Station Communications)
  • Patricia Lim-Pardo (Executive Director of Diversity Programs, ASOSU)
  • Ron Adams (Dean, College of Engineering)
  • Susana Rivera-Mills (Associate Dean, and Professor of Spanish and Diversity Advancement)
  • Susie Brubaker-Cole (Associate Provost for Academic Success and Engagement)

Timeline

  • May 31, 2011: President Ray announces that Angelo Gomez will assume the position of Interim Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion effective July 1, 2011.  President Ray’s message to the OSU community also states that Angelo will be working with a self-study team to explore university equity and inclusion efforts.
  • July 1, 2011: Angelo Gomez, who had been serving in the role of Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, assumes a new position as Interim Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion.  In preparation to lead a team that will conduct a self-study over the fall and winter terms, Angelo pulls together a “thinking group” to help define what questions need to be addressed in the self-study.
  • July 12, 2011: The thinking group convenes for an initial meeting to discuss and define the charge for the self-study.  The group is composed of students, staff, and professional and academic faculty from across the university.
  • July 12-August 11, 2011: Over the course of one month, the thinking group meets four times to discuss the objectives, membership, and process for the self-study of university equity and inclusion efforts, including a process for an external review. The work of the thinking group concludes.
  • Fall 2011: A core team is identified and invited to begin the self-study process.

Summary

Discussion

  • What is the working vision for equity and inclusion?  What are the aspirations?
    • The thinking group suggested that the self-study team, and the process itself, should facilitate the development of a vision.  This vision should be informed by previous university statements related to equity and inclusion, but should primarily be developed through an organic, engaged process.
    • The thinking group suggested that the self-study process itself will inform the development of a broadened understanding of what it means to have an accessible, inclusive university.
  • What are the working goals—what must happen to realize the vision?  How can the objectives be reached?
    • The thinking group identified several goals to be achieved through the self-study process:
      • The self-study process should be as inclusive as possible, seeking to engage the ideas of many individuals and groups.
      • The core team needs to ensure that people both feel that they are heard and that they actually are heard and engaged in the self-study process and its outcomes.
      • The self-study process needs to be transparent and include mechanisms for regular communication.
      • The self-study process should engage community members in reframing the dialogue about equity, inclusion, and diversity.
  • Given the working vision and goals, what should be the objectives, products, and accomplishments of the self-study?
    • Several objectives were discussed:
      • Identify individuals and groups that have been left of out of various definitions and conceptualizations of “diversity” and reframe “diversity” to better reflect the principle of inclusion.
      • Identify individuals and groups that have been left out of programs, services, and activities and develop a mechanism for identifying emerging needs on an ongoing basis.
      • Identify barriers and obstacles that prevent people who want to engage with various communities from doing so.
      • Identify mechanisms to sustain the vision of equity and inclusion.
      • Identify and articulate the value in equity, inclusion, and diversity.
      • Identify what will be produced as a result of the self-study process.  In particular, identify the actions that will be taken as a result of the self-study process and the measures that will be used to assess the success of those actions.
  • What should be the representation of the self-study team?  Who should be engaged in the process?
    • Size
      • The topic of equity and inclusion is of broad interest and the entire self-study process should engage as many individuals and groups as possible.
      • The thinking group suggested that the self-study team itself be comprised of 12-15 individuals who bring particular attributes and various perspectives.
    • Attributes
      • The thinking group suggested that it would be important to seek core team participants who possess key characteristics including, but not limited to the following:
        • Credibility
        • Thoughtfulness
        • Respectability
        • Objectivity
        • Open-mindedness
        • Efficacy
        • Collegiality
        • Passion for the subject
        • The thinking group also identified as important the range of particular perspectives and experiences that each member of the core team will bring.
    • Perspectives
      • Perspectives that are important to have represented on the core team include, but are not limited to, the following:
        • Various relationships to and employment statuses and levels within the university.
        • As many perspectives from across campus units, departments, and colleges as possible.
        • A range of identities and life-experiences
        • Direct, day-to-day engagement with issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion
        • Various levels of experience with the topic and with the university
        • Experience with various research methods and methodologies
  • What should the self-study process look like?
    • There are numerous individuals and groups with interest and investment in the self-study process and outcomes.  While membership on the core team will be limited, it is imperative that the process engage as many perspectives as possible.
    • The thinking group suggested that the self-study team should have ownership over the design of the process in which they will be engaged, thus the specific process has yet to be determined. 
  • What background information is needed to inform the self-study process?
    • To facilitate the development of a vision, the self-study team should be provided with previous university statements related to equity and inclusion.
    • The self-study team should have access to previous assessments conducted and reports prepared about OSU.
    • The self-study team should be provided with information about what other universities have done to address equity and inclusion.
  • What units and programs are included under “equity and inclusion”?
    • The thinking group discussed that self-study should be open to considering all current equity and inclusion efforts.  This will help highlight gaps and efforts that need to be created or enhanced in order to realize the vision for equity and inclusion.  While all equity and inclusion efforts may be considered, the self-study process should also be mindful of the fact that there are already existing structures, processes, offices, and groups.  The intent is to identify and engage with these existing efforts.
  • To what extent will the self-study focus on the internal structure of what were formerly the Offices of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Community and Diversity, and Women’s Advancement and Gender Equity?
    • The self-study process is not meant to address how the three offices should be organized, and should instead adopt a broader focus that looks at equity and inclusion efforts university-wide.  The self-study process should allow for a broad discussion of the goals for equity and inclusion and the steps to realize those goals.  Further organizational actions may stem from the analysis, but such changes are not the focus.
  • Who should be invited to participate on the external review team?
    • The thinking group discussed several  options for the composition of the external review team, offering the following suggestions:
      • Chair or Chair-Elect from APLU Commission on Access, Diversity, and Excellence (CADE)2-3 people with jobs similar to Angelo’s from peer institutions
      • Upper-level administrator from a university well-known for excellence in this area
      • Someone who understands what it means to be a predominately white research institution in the northwest
      • Someone with academic expertise
    • The team would likely be comprised of three to six external reviewers
  • What should the external review process accomplish?
    • Several suggestions were made about what the external review process should accomplish:
      • Provide an independent assessment of the self-study findings and conclusions.
      • Obtain an objective assessment of the integrity/congruence of our internal alignment with the University’s goals.
      • Establish bench marks of best practices at other institutions and a way for OSU to assess where we’re at in relation to strong models at other universities.
      • Increase internal confidence in our direction and determine whether we are on the right path.
      • Generate ideas for future goals and actions.
  • What should the external review process look like?
    • A more detailed external review process will be developed by the self-study core team; however, the thinking group proposed a general outline:
      • Make the preliminary self-study report available at least two weeks prior to the external review team’s visit.
      • Schedule several days for meetings with self-study team members, leadership, stakeholder groups, and other people with specific interest in the topic.
      • Incorporate the findings of the self-study and the findings of the external review into finalized goals, action items, and metrics.

Contact Info

Equity and Inclusion
327/330 Snell Hall Corvallis, Oregon 97331 Ph: 541-737-3556
Email OEI
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