Dear Members of the Brown Community,
Five years ago, we called upon faculty, students and staff to embrace an ambitious action plan to create a more fully diverse and inclusive campus. Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University, relied on the community’s commitment to meaningfully transform our practices and campus climate, and was built on an understanding of the essential role that diversity, equity and inclusion play in Brown’s success as a leading research university.
Now commonly known as the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, or DIAP, Brown’s strategic plan for diversity and inclusion established concrete, achievable actions to address obstacles that have long inhibited the success of historically underrepresented groups in higher education. Following an extensive community engagement process, the plan also established measures of progress and methods of accountability for assessing fulfillment of the plan’s goals.
Since the DIAP was launched in 2016, we have made measurable and meaningful progress toward its goals. However, we recognize that much more needs to be done as we strive to fulfill the aspirations we have set as an institution of higher education devoted to excellence.
Brown is reaffirming its commitment to the original plan’s goals by launching DIAP Phase II. As a companion document to the original action plan, DIAP Phase II outlines new actions to build on our increased diversity, address barriers to inclusion, and create a more equitable academic community that enables all members to make their marks as leaders, thinkers and problem-solvers. Completion of Phase II of the plan, which was developed over the past year under the leadership of the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity with input from students, faculty and staff, comes as our nation is grappling with long-overdue and justified calls for racial justice.
The 2016 action plan recognized that achieving a truly diverse and inclusive community would only be possible with all academic and administrative units across the University sharing in this commitment and evaluating their roles in this work. This continues to be true in Phase II of the plan, which sets Brown on a path to implement transformative and sustained change across the University by 2025. DIAP Phase II provides an update on our progress to date and includes new actions to achieve diversity and inclusion in the DIAP’s six priority areas – People, Academic Excellence, Curriculum, Community, Knowledge and Accountability. It also lists actions that continue from the original plan.
We know that people learn better and make better decisions if they’re surrounded by others who have different perspectives, life experiences and backgrounds. We know that if we don’t conduct broad searches for faculty and staff and look broadly for students, we’re going to lose some of the best talent on the planet. We also know that people learn better and work better in environments where they feel respected, included and valued. For all of these reasons, the continued work of the DIAP is central to our academic success.
Progress made since the launch of the DIAP
One of the most significant strengths of the DIAP is its measurable concrete goals, supported by annual reports on progress. A review of the work of the past five years shows that Brown has made significant strides toward a campus-wide climate that supports the diverse community that is critical for academic excellence.
At the undergraduate level, Brown has partnered with QuestBridge Scholars, a national program that provides financial support to high-achieving students from low-income families. The University has increased efforts to attract students from rural areas and small towns, and launched a comprehensive effort to double the number of U.S. military veterans enrolled as undergraduates. We also have hired a new associate dean for financial advising to oversee living and learning expense support for students from low-income families.
Notably, Brown has made meaningful progress in the recruitment of individuals from historically underrepresented groups (HUGs) as a result of revised hiring practices and new recruitment programs. With 42 new HUG faculty joining Brown over the past five years, our aspirational goal of doubling the number of faculty from HUGs by 2022 is within reach. Meanwhile, the visiting professor program launched by Provost Richard M. Locke has brought five distinguished scholars to Brown, and the Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship has served as a pipeline to tenure-track positions.
We have added important new professional development opportunities for staff, including an annual Professional Development Day focused on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. And the Administrative Fellows Program provides mentorship, training and support to a cohort of staff working on diversity, equity and inclusion projects.
As an institute of higher education, we also must confront issues of equity and justice in our teaching and research. As a result of the DIAP, Brown has created a new undergraduate course designation to promote academic engagement with issues of power, privilege and oppression. Since these courses were introduced, they have reached a majority of undergraduate students with 4,074 students enrolled in 211 DIAP courses within 37 departments in 2018-19 alone.
We have also invested heavily in scholarship that furthers knowledge around issues of race, power and privilege by increasing funding for the Center of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. In addition, the University founded the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, which offers courses, conducts research and engages with campus and community partners on issues important to Indigenous communities. The expansion of research and education on issues of equity and justice has been supported by generous donations from Brown alumni and friends, as well as competitive grant awards and support from Brown’s operational funds. To date, Brown has committed more than $157 million toward the DIAP’s priorities through a combination of these funding mechanisms over the past five years.
Much of the progress made in the first five years of the DIAP has focused on compositional diversity of the community. As we move forward, many of the new actions outlined in Phase II of the plan will focus on making Brown a more inclusive community. These actions include additional measures to support faculty, staff and students from HUGs, refine data collection and evaluate practices to create a more inclusive environment.
While much of this work will begin in the coming months, some initiatives are already underway. For example, the University Library has already begun a project to create a resource that can be used to develop more equitable and inclusive research, teaching and learning. And the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning has launched an intensive teacher training program. In addition, administrative and academic units, which drive much of this work, will receive added resources that will help them to better assess their progress in meeting their goals.
The second phase of the DIAP demonstrates the University’s sustained commitment to meeting its campus-wide inclusion and equity goals and bringing transformative change within reach. It is also my strong hope that this phase re-energizes our community in the quest to build and sustain a campus environment where all members are supported and can thrive. We will continue to hold ourselves accountable as we confront issues of racism, discrimination and inequity that stand in the way of the excellence we aspire to achieve.
I want to thank Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity Shontay Delalue, the leadership within the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, and all those in our community who contributed to the plan. Our success in these efforts depends on the ongoing dedication of our entire community.
I look forward to the work we will continue to do together to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion at Brown.
Christina H. Paxson