Among its most meaningful accomplishments, the university’s five-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic planning process created a vibrant campus network of DEI-related professionals, including both faculty and staff—in many cases adding DEI work to their existing positions or appointments. Through programs that provide resources and support, facilitate collaboration and enhance outcomes for individual and collective projects, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has sustained and expanded this vibrant group of professionals charged with managing implementation of their unit-based DEI plans. Functioning as a campuswide catalyst, the Implementation Leads Group contributes in vital ways to the success of every DEI professional across the university by encouraging collaboration and enhancing impact at both the unit and university level.

Year Four Progress

During Year Four, the campuswide network known as the DEI Implementation Leads Group (DEI-ILG) continued to support over 100 members representing all 50 planning units. The overall goal is to develop leaders across the institution, matching their commitment with needed skills in order to ensure real and lasting progress. In support of this goal, the DEI-ILG continued meeting on a monthly basis to share best practices, engage in professional development, receive updates and tools provided by central administration, and develop new resources such as a COVID-19 guide for DEI work and an anti-racism resource guide.

The onset of COVID-19 and subsequent shift to remote operations generated innovative solutions to an array of challenges. Monthly meetings became Zoom webinars, and new resources were created and shared—among them, a COVID-19 resource guide for DEI work and a DEI goal-setting guide for faculty and staff. Tools and programs to support anti-racism work were also disseminated as protest activity across the country inspired interest in/demand for such resources.

In Year Four, the collective actions of the Implementation Leads Group continued to generate significant impact across campus. DEI leads guided their units’ work across recruitment and retention, education and research, always striving to build an inclusive environment. They developed programs and advised on policies and practices. In addition to leading and doing DEI work, they created communication and feedback channels to keep their community members informed and engaged.

This work is complex, challenging, and always evolving, a fact that was particularly evident this past year, when COVID-19 forced all campus operations to operate remotely. DEI Leads shifted programs from in-person to virtual formats and addressed issues of equity and inclusion in supporting faculty, staff and students. As civil unrest over systemic racism reached new heights across the nation, DEI Leads advocated for stronger attention to anti-racism in campuswide DEI work. Many who had worked on these issues for decades saw a renewed surge of energy for change. In the coming year and beyond, the DEI Leads will tap this energy as they work to move present-day realities to a new, higher level.

In past years, the efforts of DEI Leads have been recognized at a lunch celebration hosted by President Schlissel and Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Sellers. This year, aligned with the all-university shift to remote operations, President Schlissel joined an online meeting of DEI Leads to express his appreciation and solidarity with this dedicated group of staff and faculty.