Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan: Progress Report

September 1, 2016

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

A significant and meaningful undertaking of our community during the last academic year was the creation of Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University (DIAP). When it was released in February 2016, we committed, as a community, to taking deliberate steps to cultivate the truly diverse and inclusive community that is central to achieving the University's mission at ever higher levels of excellence, and to communicating regularly about the status of our efforts.

While substantial work and sustained commitment remains to reach our goals, we are writing to report on the early progress that has been made since adopting the DIAP. A vital feature of the plan is that it was developed with broad community engagement, and the intense work over the last several months reflects the participation of faculty, students and staff dedicated to achieving the promise of the DIAP.

The DIAP calls for every academic and administrative department to develop a Departmental Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DDIAP). The first phase of work on these plans was undertaken over the summer, beginning with the academic departments and programs.

A committee made up of the Provost, Dean of the Faculty, Dean of the College, Dean of the Graduate School, Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity and Inclusion, and Assistant Provost reviewed the Departmental Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans (DDIAPs) submitted by academic departments, centers and institutes by the June 1, 2016 deadline. The Provost provided detailed letters of response to department chairs and center directors regarding their plans, and departments are working to refine the DDIAPs. Final DDIAPs will be posted online on the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion's (OIDI) website on September 15, 2016. As you will see, the various departmental plans present a wealth of innovative initiatives to increase the diversity of our community, enrich Brown's curriculum to engage more effectively issues of race, ethnicity, power and privilege, and to promote an environment in which a full range of ideas and perspectives can flourish.

Administrative areas of the University will submit their plans by September 1, 2016; they will be reviewed and made available online by late fall. Together, these plans articulate concrete actions that will be taken at a departmental level to ensure Brown achieves its aspirations as a fully inclusive academic community.

In addition to the DDIAPs, offices across campus contributed to progress on the DIAP in the areas of recruitment, strengthening the curriculum, building support for underserved communities through increased resources and professional development, and building accountability measures to monitor ongoing progress on the overall University action plan. What follows are a few highlights, organized by categories listed in the DIAP, of some of the work that the campus has engaged in over the last six months. A full list can be found on the implementation page of the DIAP website.


Central to our goal of enhancing academic excellence is attracting and supporting the very best students, staff and faculty to Brown, from all backgrounds and perspectives. As a result, we are pursuing new avenues in recruiting, retaining, mentoring and rewarding outstanding students, faculty and staff:

  • Approximately one-third of the exceptional 35 new faculty hires made in the 2016-17 academic year were faculty from historically underrepresented groups (HUG), and efforts to attract leading HUG scholars will continue through this year's and future hiring cycles.
  • The second cohort of six Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellows will begin in fall 2016 for a total of 12 this year. Two postdoctoral fellows from last year's cohort have already been hired into tenure track positions at Brown.
  • In May 2016, we announced the creation of the campus-wide Provost's Visiting Professors program to offer short-term appointments at Brown to distinguished faculty from historically underrepresented groups. The program's selection committee has received more than 25 nominations from both internal and external sources, from which approximately three visiting professors for the 2016-17 academic year will be selected.
  • A pilot Administrative Fellows Program to support professional development of staff, with an emphasis on HUG staff, will call for applications in fall 2016. The new cohort will begin in January 2017.
  • We have enhanced capacity across the University by hiring an associate dean for diversity initiatives in the Graduate School, a new director for University inclusion programs in OIDI, a new program coordinator in the LGBTQ Center in Campus Life, and the first assistant dean for financial advising in the College.

Academic Excellence

The DIAP seeks to strengthen the overall learning environment by, among other things, leveraging scholarly resources to expand the University's academic leadership and impact. In this realm:

  • The University has launched a new Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, which builds on Brown's significant strengths in this area, and is the result of the intensive work over the spring of a broad-based committee. The first coordinator for Native American and Indigenous Studies, located in the Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC), began work this summer.
  • The Office of the Provost in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA) sponsored How Structural Racism Works, a series of academic lectures and workshops designed to undertake an extended campus-wide examination of structural racism in the United States. There were four related events in the spring semester, with three more planned for fall 2016.
  • Across the University, schools and departments have undertaken research programs focused on the related issues of race, ethnicity, power and privilege, contributing to our understanding of how these issues impact things such as health disparities, educational outcomes, the criminal justice system, colonial and post-colonial legacies, and critical theory. (DDIAPs to be posted online September 15 will provide additional details.)


Addressing the curriculum, which is at the heart of a Brown education, is essential to our success.

  • The Dean of the College convened the Task Force on Diversity in the College Curriculum, which will complete its report in fall 2016.
  • The Dean of the College has provided support for a significantly expanded New Scientist Catalyst Program, a uniquely blended academic orientation program for entering students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
  • Numerous departments are proposing in their DDIAPs new courses and/or redesigning existing courses, as well as developing a series of co-curricular activities (lectures, film series, workshops, etc.), all aimed at enriching our understanding and engagement with issues of race, ethnicity and social justice.


We seek to address structures and obstacles that have prevented the full inclusion of individuals from a range of backgrounds — particularly those from historically underrepresented groups — and to promote an environment that benefits from the full and active participation of all. To advance these objectives:

Brown will celebrate the opening of the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center on Friday, September 16, 2016.

  • Emergency funds for support of critical living and learning expenses for low-income undergraduate, graduate and professional students have been doubled.
  • The Brown Faculty of Color Network has been established and has sponsored a new mentoring program for early career scholars of color, and will offer ongoing professional development workshops and networking opportunities.
  • OIDI coordinated and facilitated a number of professional development events and smaller training workshops related to diversity and inclusion in spring and summer 2016. A total of 11 events and workshops have taken place since February 2016, engaging approximately 900 faculty, students and staff. The fall 2016 calendar of events, seminars and training workshops will be available in September 2016.
  • A Mentoring Programs Committee, which includes representation from OIDI, Alumni Relations, CareerLAB, Dean of the College, Graduate School, Campus Life, CIS, BCSC, LGBTQ Center and Sarah Doyle Women's Center, has been convened to consider more effective coordination of mentoring resources and the re-alignment and expansion of existing mentoring programs. New mentoring network events are being planned for 2016-17.
  • The President's Staff Advisory Council partnered with the Provost's office to launch the first Staff Summer Readings program, a pilot program to expand the First Readings programs to interested staff.
  • Through a partnership with the Institute for International Education (IIE) and others, Brown has welcomed three scholars displaced by the violence in Syria to continue their research and education.
  • Community and Government Relations convened a working group to evaluate and report on the University's contributions to Providence and RI. A report is expected by the end of the calendar year.


The DIAP includes a commitment to gather more data to inform discussions, policies and decision-making. Toward that end:

  • Students participated in campus climate studies in spring 2016; the findings are available online here.
  • Faculty and staff participated in climate surveys, with data expected to be available in fall 2016.


Ensuring transparency and accountability is an essential component of DIAP. In addition to the development and review of the DDIAPs, which will be updated annually, work has been initiated in the following areas:

  • In spring 2016, President Paxson charged the newly established Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board (DIOB) to provide oversight of the University's diversity and inclusion initiatives as articulated in the DIAP. The Board has met twice and will meet regularly during the 2016-17 academic year.
  • A Title VI Policy Review Working Group began its work this summer, and the group will provide a report to the President by the end of fall 2016.
  • The President charged an ad hoc committee of the Brown University Corporation to oversee progress on the DIAP. This committee will begin meeting in the fall of 2016.

We are grateful to the many members of our community who have devoted considerable time and effort to achieving progress to date. While we have much to do to realize the vision outlined in the DIAP, we are confident that by continuing to work collaboratively and in earnest, together we will reach our aspirations.

With best wishes for a productive academic year,

Richard M. Locke

Liza Cariaga-Lo
Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity and Inclusion