Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I write to announce that the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Final Report is now available to Seattle University students, faculty and staff and can be read by logging in with your SU username and password. Let me briefly share some of my thoughts on the context of this report and its value and importance to all of us.

Seattle University has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Diversity is one of the six core values we espouse as part of our mission. Two and a half years ago, the university convened the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence in order to assess the current state of diversity on campus and recommend ways to build upon previous work by the university to more fully live out this core value.

The task force has met regularly since September 2013. A key component of its work was the commissioning of the campus climate survey administered last winter. The input that the campus community shared in the survey and through other channels was critical in guiding the task force's work. Representing the diverse voices of our campus community, the final report serves as a road map for the university's ongoing efforts, including a number of new recommendations to be undertaken and many others that have long been underway. Six goals, accompanied by corresponding initiatives, are identified in the document:

  • Realize an organizational infrastructure that embeds inclusive excellence in all aspects of the Seattle University experience
  • Integrate inclusive excellence across curricular and co-curricular offerings
  • Build and sustain the capacity of students, staff, and faculty to engage, teach and lead through an inclusive excellence lens
  • Meet the challenges and opportunities of recruiting and graduating a diverse student body
  • Meet the challenges and opportunities of recruiting and retaining talented faculty and staff
  • Maximize the university's capacity for social change in the local community

I encourage you to read the report in its entirety as this informative and enlightening document will help us all move forward in the weeks, months and years ahead to become an even more diverse, welcoming and caring institution. I think we can all agree that diversity and inclusiveness go to the heart of who we are and who we aspire to be as a university and greatly enhance the educational and work experience for everyone.

My deep thanks goes out to the members of the task force for the outstanding work on this report. The task force has provided invaluable insight into the learning, working and living environment on campus for students, faculty and staff. I am also grateful to the wider campus community for engaging with this important effort.

As the report indicates, we have made strides in recent years to strengthen diversity and inclusion on this campus, but there is much work yet to be done in our pursuit of inclusive excellence. It will be important for our campus community to work together as we seek to move forward as best we can on the initiatives outlined in the report. I look forward to reporting back to you soon about next steps and the key initiatives we will look to implement in the near and long term. I am grateful for your continued support of, and participation in, this important work.

Sincerely,

Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J. 
President

Seattle University Climate Study survey results

Dr. Susan Rankin of Rankin & Associates Consulting shared results of the university's campus climate assessment during two town halls on October 22.

The executive summary, final report and presentation of the survey results are available to all with a Seattle University login and password. Please enter your user ID (no need to include "@seattleu.edu") and password and you will see links to download. If you need a hard copy of the Executive Summary, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Development at 206-296-6066. Two hard copies of the full report are available for 24-hour checkout at the Lemieux Library.

Seattle University is committed to diversity, inclusion, equity, and inclusive excellence as an indispensable part of the experience of all of our community members.  In that regard, Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., President of Seattle University, announced the formation of the President's Diversity Task Force on April 1, 2013.  In doing so, President Sundborg noted that "Diversity is one of our core values at Seattle University and an inherent source of strength for our community and enrichment for our learning and growth."  The Task Force is charged with reviewing the progress Seattle University has made on recommendations from the 2008 Engaging Our Diversity Report, assessing the current state of diversity on campus and recommending necessary next steps.  In recognition of the exhaustive nature of the Task Force's work and the model adopted to guide our work during the 2013-2014 academic year, the Task Force was renamed to the President's Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence in Fall 2014.  The name Inclusive Excellence comes from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, which explored how institutions of higher education could infuse the goal of a more diverse and inclusive campus into their work to achieve excellence in the academic and community experiences within higher education (Williams, Berger, & McClendon, 2005).

Task Force Framework

Making Excellence Inclusive: Preparing Students and Campuses for an Era of Greater Expectations

The mission and vision of Seattle University, which supports “educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world” naturally connects with the Making Excellence Inclusive framework and will allow the Taskforce and the University to think beyond our mission and value statements and to develop a plan and way forward that will make an appreciable difference in the experience of our students, faculty, and staff.  Adoption of the framework will allow the Task force to pursue second-order change; change that extends beyond the routine and surface level, but is more robust, deep, systemic, and enduring; change that deals with core values and norms.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Making Excellence Inclusive “is designed to explore how colleges and universities can fully utilize the resources of diversity to achieve academic excellence for all students.”  Building upon decades of campus commitment to build more inclusive communities, Making Excellence Inclusive “aims to understand how higher education can coherently and comprehensively link its diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives to its essential educational mission.”  As a model it speaks directly to Seattle University’s values of care, academic excellence, diversity, faith, justice, and leadership.

Williams, Berger, and McClendon (2005) suggest:

Inclusive Excellence re-envisions both quality and diversity.  It reflects a striving for excellence in higher education that has been made more inclusive by decades of work to infuse diversity into recruiting, admissions, and hiring; into the curriculum and co-curriculum; and into administrative structures and practices.  It also embraces newer forms of excellence, and expanded ways to measure excellence, that take into account research on learning and brain functioning, the assessment movement, and more nuanced accountability structures.  Likewise, diversity and inclusion efforts move beyond numbers of students or numbers of programs as end goals.  Instead, they are multilayered processes through which we achieve excellence in learning; research and teaching; student development; local and global community engagement; workforce development; and more.

Inclusive Excellence consists of four primary elements:

  • A focus on student intellectual and social development. Academically, it means offering the best possible course of study for the context in which the education is offered.
  •  A purposeful development and utilization of organizational resources to enhance student learning. Organizationally, it means establishing an environment that challenges each student to achieve academically at high levels and each member of the campus to contribute to learning and knowledge development.
  •  Attention to the cultural differences learners bring to the educational experience and that enhance the enterprise.
  •  A welcoming community that engages all of its diversity in the service of student and organizational learning.

Williams, D.A., Berger, J.B., & McClendon, S.A. (2005). Toward a model of inclusive excellence and change in postsecondary institutions. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities.