A Message from President Richard Feldman to the University Community
January 11, 2019
What began as a direct response to the recommendations in the Report of the Independent Investigation (also known as the “White Report”) has evolved into a larger effort to strengthen Rochester’s Culture of Respect and promote equity, broadly defined. We are working toward creating lasting, cultural change; a campus climate built on respect and inclusion and other values that are understood by all members of the community and that guide our practice. Our community must be welcoming to all, a place in which all members can thrive. Many people have been engaged in this important work, and I’m proud of what we have built.
The report that follows focuses primarily on the University-wide steps that have been taken in support of these goals, but there has been progress throughout the University.
Progress in Equity and Inclusion Across the Institution
- Inclusive Hiring: Significant efforts across schools to increase awareness about the importance of recruiting a diverse faculty and taking steps toward making searches inclusive and free of bias
- New Leadership: New and expanded roles of faculty and staff leaders, underscoring the priority of diversity and inclusion efforts across the institution
- Initiatives and Recognition: Ongoing efforts of faculty, staff, and students to enhance learning and working environments through infrastructure to improve and enhance diversity and inclusion efforts in departments
Progress Building Rochester’s Culture of Respect
Key Steps: Culture and Values
- Work of Faculty/Staff and Student Groups: Significant efforts by the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia and the Students’ Association Task Force to Review Sexual Misconduct Policy
- Meliora Values Implementation: The new Vision and Values Statement that communicates the University’s shared goals and principles
- Community Engagement: Making our values manifest by seeking to expand our connection with the community
Key Steps: Policies and Practices
- New Guides available to explain procedures for addressing misconduct
- Revision of Intimate Relationships Policy
- Revision of Faculty Grievance Policy
- Revision of Email/IT Policy
- Revision of Policy 106
- New Respectful Workplace Policy within Code of Conduct
- Advisors and Conflict Managers
- Strengthened Mandatory and Elective Training Options
- New Reports: Diversity, Sexual Misconduct, Bias
Key Steps: Leadership and Organization
- University Diversity and Equity Council: Advisory group to the president, composed of faculty, staff, and students
- Office of Equity and Inclusion: New office being established to lead diversity and inclusion efforts University-wide and oversee equal opportunity matters
- Search for new vice president for equity and inclusion underway
- New investigator hired to work on internal discrimination and harassment claims under Policy 106
To succeed in implementing sustainable change, the University must continue to work to identify and address challenges within the organization related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. To have meaningful impact, all members of the community will be expected to understand and be encouraged to champion the University’s Vision and Values Statement. From senior leaders to staff and faculty to students as well as alumni, each individual must ensure that the University of Rochester welcomes, includes, and values everyone. I continue to welcome your feedback through the Respect website feedback form.
The past 12 months have been a time of transition, providing an opportunity for members of the University community to reflect on our climate and to reaffirm a mutual commitment to respect and inclusion. In my first message to the community last January, I said that we could draw strength from our shared commitment to the ideal of “Meliora.” I was heartened then as I am now by the outpouring of messages from dedicated and caring members of our community who were and continue to be eager to help in this next chapter of the University’s history. While there is always more work to be done, I believe that through our collaborative efforts we have made significant progress in the past year. During this time, the teaching, learning, creativity, discovery, and patient care that form the core of our University mission have remained strong and vibrant.
When I became president, the University’s Board of Trustees asked me to begin work immediately on the University’s response to the recommendations in the Report of the Independent Investigation (also known as the “White Report”). We have made substantial progress in responding to those recommendations (see Appendix), which formed a starting point for our work, opening dialogues with the Faculty Senate and other campus groups with additional recommendations to improve policies related to sexual harassment and issues related to campus climate. The central goal has been strengthening Rochester’s Culture of Respect to promote equity and inclusion, making our community one that is welcoming to all. We are working toward creating lasting, cultural change; a campus climate built on respect and other values that are understood by all members of the community and that guide our practice. The Vision and Values Statement that was approved in Spring 2018 serves as the foundation for these efforts. The process has been aided by wide-ranging community feedback, including detailed recommendations made by the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia and the Students’ Association Task Force to Review Sexual Misconduct Policy, as well as the earlier work of the 2016 Commission on Race and Diversity.
Offering guidance on structural and cultural transformation activities throughout the past year, the Trustees’ ad hoc White Report Oversight Committee has played a central role overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the White Report and other initiatives related to our campus culture. The committee, composed of trustees Lance Drummond (chair), Nomi Bergman (vice chair), Chris Boehning, Barbara J. Burger, Kathy Murray, Tom Richards, and Danny Wegman, began meeting in March 2018 and continues to meet regularly. The group provides oversight and advice on a range of programmatic, policy, and cultural endeavors throughout the University.
I am gratified to see substantial progress toward all measures of success, articulated and described below, while recognizing that much work remains. We envision success to encompass the following:
- Measurable progress in hiring and retaining a diverse faculty and staff, and attracting and retaining students from underrepresented groups. We can measure the results in these areas, but also measure our candidate pools and carefully assess our hiring practices. We can publicly report on these matters, and we can hold leaders accountable, insisting that appropriate efforts are being made.
- A reduction in behaviors that are not consistent with our values, combined with the continuation of thorough reporting and follow-through when problems do arise. Again, we can and will report the results to the campus community.
- A full understanding of the Vision and Values Statement by all members of the community, who will use the values to model and guide their actions. We can use climate surveys to help us understand the community’s perceptions of these activities.
- Clear, trusted policies governing, among other things, sexual harassment and misconduct, intimate relationships, grievances, and disciplinary actions.
- Establishment of a new University-wide office focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion to foster and assess ongoing efforts, with a new leader to chart a strategic plan for our efforts in this space.
- Robust training and helpful informational resources related to sexual misconduct and unconscious bias available to all members of the community. University leaders at all levels will espouse the Meliora values and use those values as the basis for communication and dialogue in schools, departments, and divisions.
- Increased collaboration and coordination between groups working to strengthen our Culture of Respect and engagement within and outside our University community.
The report that follows focuses primarily on the University-wide steps that have been taken in an effort to achieve the goals just described. However, we should not lose sight of the vitally important work that is being done on a school and unit level as we focus on where we want to be broadly as an institution.
Inclusive Hiring: Faculty and Staff
All of our schools and units are focusing on inclusive hiring practices. In the 2017-18 academic year, Arts, Sciences & Engineering (AS&E) departments hired 19 new faculty, including 11 women. This is the greatest number of female faculty ever hired in AS&E in a single year, and for the first time more than 25 percent of AS&E faculty are women. AS&E now requires search committees for staff positions in grades 54 and higher to go through training on best practices and implicit bias, similar to the training done for faculty searches.
Each faculty search committee at the Warner School of Education, as well as the School of Nursing, utilizes a faculty diversity officer as part of the committee to maximize accountability of the review of applicants. Search chairs have also worked with the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity to ensure the broadest pool of racially and ethnically diverse candidates.
Faculty diversity officers at the Eastman School of Music met with multiple search committees to increase awareness of committee members about the importance of recruiting a diverse faculty and steps to take toward success.
The River Campus Libraries executed an active diversity recruiting strategy this year, with managers attending job fairs at nearby library schools and connecting with potential qualified candidates via phone, email, and social media. The effort resulted in three new outstanding library professional staff hires from underrepresented groups.
The Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) has worked to identify employment candidates who represent its target community and are in protected classes and/or are underrepresented in museum professions. To help close the opportunity gap for these groups, MAG collaborates with community organizations such as Teen Health Success and Partnership Program and BOCES to fill the employment pipeline with a diverse pool of candidates. MAG also established the Director Shadow Internship, allowing three East High School students to shadow the Memorial Art Gallery’s director for two weeks.
New this year, the Provost’s Office and Office for Faculty Development and Diversity announced a fellowship program for staff and faculty aimed at building and embracing our diverse community. The Inclusive Climate Leadership Fellowship is a competitive two-year fellowship for staff and faculty who are passionate about incorporating diversity and inclusion into their careers at the University. The first cohort of fellows began work on their projects in July.
In December 2018, the University hired Kevin Beckford, the first director of the Office of Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, with the goal of creating an effective and safe place for all staff to address concerns. In the interim period, the office has established a Staff Diversity Officers Foundation Committee, which consists of 12 University staff from the Medical Center and River Campus, with the mission of addressing the need for equitable and inclusive environments and practices across the University, through collaboration with leadership and staff.
Beth Olivares began an expanded role as dean for diversity in Arts, Sciences & Engineering in January 2018, underscoring AS&E’s priority of focusing on issues around climate and mechanisms for improving diversity among faculty, students, and staff. Beth Olivares remains executive director of the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity.
Through the Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center, the College hired its first LGBTQ Coordinator, Colleen Raimond, who has developed a wide array of group programming and individual support for students. Residential Life and Housing Services now offers a gender-inclusive housing option.
Initiatives and Recognition
Over the last year, with leadership from Linda Chaudron, associate vice president and senior associate dean for inclusion and culture development, the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has focused on enhancing learning and work environments by developing guidelines and building infrastructure that includes multiple critical committees like the Respectful Learner Environment Task Force, Executive Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, the Clinical Cultural Competency Committee, Faculty Diversity Liaison Committee, Deaf Professionals Executive Committee, and the Faculty Professionalism Council, among others. In addition, at a local departmental level some departments are beginning to develop diversity and inclusion committees and/or identify specific individuals to lead diversity and inclusion efforts within their departments.
The School of Nursing is the first among the University’s schools to establish a student diversity officer role, designed to provide a direct link for students to be represented in the leadership of the Council for Diversity and Inclusiveness (CoDI). The members of the CoDI include faculty, staff, and students from across the School of Nursing, and the council guides the continuing efforts of the community to create the most welcoming learning environment that reflects and values increasing diversity at the school.
As a follow-up to the Trans@Rochester handbook published in 2017, the Susan B. Anthony Center and student Bruno Sacatucua worked with the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity, the Office for Minority Student Affairs, and Admissions to create a Handbook for Underrepresented Ethnicities (HUE). This 37-page handbook was launched in October 2017 and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the University community.
The Simon Business School this year was ranked as the 13th top MBA program for women in the country by the Financial Times. Empowering women to succeed in business is one of Simon’s top priorities.
The Office of Alumni Relations has held events such as Rochester Pride Celebration, A Celebration of Diversity, and several discussions on the topic of inclusion during Meliora Weekend.
A description of our efforts at a University level, including efforts responsive to the recommendations of the White Report, is detailed below. Our work falls into three main categories: steps taken to address our culture and values; changes in policies and practices; and leadership and organizational initiatives.
Key Steps: Culture and Values
- Work of Faculty/Staff and Student Groups
- Meliora Values Implementation
- Community Engagement
The University has taken several steps to improve our climate and build Rochester’s Culture of Respect. Before widespread and meaningful change can be effected–through policies, programs, and people–the University must create an environment where those changes have the best chance of success.
Work of Faculty/Staff and Student Groups
I am grateful to two groups in particular for leading the charge in making recommendations for change and assisting with implementation. The Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia (CWGEA) formed in October 2017 to help lead the University community’s effort to research and recommend policies and practices that promote a culture of respect, inclusiveness, and equal opportunity for individuals across the gender spectrum. Led by Amy Lerner, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and fourth-year medical student and College alumna Antoinette Esce ’15, CWGEA is comprised of faculty, students, and trainees from across all campuses and schools with four working groups that also include staff members.
The Students’ Association Task Force to Review Sexual Misconduct Policy issued a report in April 2018 recommending changes to the Student Code of Conduct and the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. I met with the students to discuss their recommendations and appreciated their thoughtful approaches to highlighting a number of important issues. My formal response is posted here. The Task Force has now been merged into the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia.
In Spring 2018, the University adopted a new Vision and Values Statement that communicates the University’s shared goals and principles. The new Statement, reflecting input from all corners of the University, serves as a foundation for the process of setting high expectations for our interactions, and is designed to work with already established school and department efforts, such as URMC’s ICARE and the College’s Communal Principles. An acronym of our motto, Meliora (“ever better”), the values express our ongoing aspiration to be an inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and responsive organization at every level: Meliora, Equity, Leadership, Integrity, Openness, Respect, and Accountability. The new Vision and Values Statement aims to define mutually understood values and provide a template for the ways in which all members of our community work and interact.
The Vision and Values committee, now chaired by Joan Saab, vice provost for academic affairs, and Maggie Cousin, assistant vice provost for diversity, has begun a process of implementation, jump-starting conversations in the University community about our shared institutional values, especially in smaller units and departments. These unit-level dialogues will create opportunities for action and change. The Vision and Values Statement has been rolled out at new faculty orientations and to the University Management Team. In September, Arts, Sciences & Engineering launched a recognition program: “Recognize AS&E staff who exemplify the University’s vision and values,” encouraging faculty, staff, and students to nominate AS&E staff members who exemplify the University’s vision and values. At a 500-member staff retreat for the Medical Center in October and at a URMC leadership retreat in November, Medical Center leadership highlighted the new Vision and Values Statement. Also in the fall, the Eastman School of Music held a Vision and Values launch event to promote the new statement to students and staff, and the Inclusive Climate Leadership Fellows participated in a seminar about how to connect their work to the values. The new statement was highlighted at several venues during Meliora Weekend in October and featured in Rochester Review. I want to encourage departments to continue to use the Statement as the basis for discussion in units. We are working on ways in which we can recognize and reward members of the community for behavior that exemplifies the Meliora values.
I want to underscore that the context of our Meliora values is broad. The new Vision and Values Statement reflects our commitment to serving our internal campus community as well as strengthening our connection to the greater Rochester region. As the largest employer in Rochester, the University provides significant economic educational, medical, cultural, and social benefit to the surrounding communities. Programs and activities serving the community bring diverse people together and leverage faculty, student, and employee skills, talents, and passions. One way that we are making our Meliora Values commitment manifest is by seeking to expand and advance the many ways in which the University of Rochester serves the City of Rochester and the region more broadly. A tangible way of doing this is an effort now underway to secure a Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement for the University. The Carnegie Classification is a leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four and a half decades. Under the leadership of Glenn Cerosaletti, assistant dean of students and director of the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, and Theresa Green, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Center for Community Health and Prevention, a University-wide committee is preparing our application for this external classification. Their effort is serving to coordinate and inventory our extensive investment in engagement with the local community through educational partnerships, economic revitalization, and support of cultural programs.
Key Steps: Policies and Practices
- New Guides
- Intimate Relationships Policy
- Faculty Grievance Policy
- Email/IT Policy
- Policy 106
- Respectful Workplace
- New Reports: Diversity, Sexual Misconduct, Bias
The White Report found that policies and procedures for reporting and addressing misconduct were not easy to locate on the University’s website, nor were they clear or easy to follow. To be sure that policies and practices are largely understood and accessible, we published new guides in “flowchart” format that could walk community members through the process of seeking help or filing a complaint. The new guides, first published in April and revised for the start of the academic year, provide students and faculty/staff with information about reporting options and resources for complainants, witnesses, and respondents. The University launched a new website: Rochester’s Culture of Respect. The new site includes a clearly identifiable “How to Report an Incident” link, with information and reporting options for students and faculty/staff.
Intimate Relationships Policy
The Board of Trustees approved a revised Intimate Relationships policy in May 2018. The new policy clarified that faculty are prohibited from entering into intimate relationships with undergraduate students; that faculty are prohibited from entering into intimate relationships with any member of the University community over whom they exercise academic authority; that faculty are prohibited from accepting academic authority over any member of the University community with whom they share an intimate relationship; and offered a clearer expression about policy violations, possible discipline, and carefully managing exceptions. The revisions were based on the work of a committee that included representatives of the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Association, and the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia. The revised policy can be accessed at page 11 of the Faculty Handbook. The University is working to ensure faculty are aware of the new policy, and that the details of its application in departments are made clear. To that end, I have asked the Provost’s Office to take the lead on this effort. Revisions to the University’s Conflicting Relationships Policy (HR Policy 121) will be made to address intimate relationships between students (graduate and undergraduate) and staff members. These changes will be shared more broadly with the community for review and input. Students, University senior leaders, and the University Diversity and Equity Council, among others, will be consulted for feedback.
Faculty Grievance Policy
The Board of Trustees also approved a revision to the Faculty Handbook relating to Faculty Grievance Procedures in May 2018. The handbook section relating to grievances has been expanded to include decisions relating to the reappointment and promotion of any faculty member eligible to vote in Senate elections, whether tenure-track or not. Grounds for the appeal of tenure, reappointment, and promotion decisions have been expanded beyond procedural irregularities to include violations of academic freedom. The section relating to general grievances has also been expanded to include violations of academic freedom. All these grievances will be investigated by a Faculty Grievance Committee consisting of five or more members appointed from a list of fifteen faculty nominated by the president and provost. An explanation of the outcome of the process will be communicated back to the complainants, the respondents, and the University Committee on Tenure and Privileges by the appropriate authority. This policy can be accessed on page 33 of the Faculty Handbook.
Email and IT Policy
I recently approved a revised Email and Information Technology Policy. It has been sent to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees for final approval at its next meeting. The revised policy resulted from the work of a Faculty Senate Working Group that was tasked with reviewing the University’s Email Policy and University IT Policy and recommending changes to strengthen the principles already existing in the current policy with respect to academic freedom and privacy. The resulting policy specifies the procedures associated with the search and distribution of electronic files within University Information Technology Resources. The revisions also add conditions on the duration of time that the searched electronic files must be preserved.
Another priority identified in the White Report was amending the University’s Policy 106–the policy on gender-based discrimination and harassment. Last spring, we convened a committee–composed of faculty, staff, and students, including representatives from the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and the University Diversity and Equity Council–to make specific recommendations, with proposed policy language, to clarify language and expectations about reporting and process, consider procedural and structural changes, incorporate a reference to the University’s Meliora values, and indicate the range of disciplinary and other remedial actions that could be taken in the disposition. The charge included looking at ways to include additional language identifying examples of discrimination and harassment, noting remedial actions that may be taken and highlighting language encouraging the University community members to report sexual harassment. Associate Vice President for Human Resources Tony Kinslow led this committee, with guidance from Senior Counsel Sarah Merkel, to propose revisions. The committee underscored the importance of expressing in the language of Policy 106 the University’s commitment to equality of opportunity as well as recognition of the University’s Vision and Values Statement. A memorandum from retained outside counsel Littler Mendelson P.C. was given to the Office of Counsel, designed to serve as a guide in policymaking regarding confidentiality of investigations of claims of sexual harassment or misconduct by faculty members.
In November, the committee shared a revised policy with the White Report Oversight Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the University Diversity and Equity Council Executive Committee. They shared a draft with the University community on December 17, and a public comment period will remain open until January 23, 2019. Once all community feedback has been collected and reviewed, the committee will present its recommended changes to Policy 106 to me, for referral to the Policy Approvals Committee, a group including Provost Rob Clark, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Holly Crawford, and General Counsel Gail Norris, that must approve all University-level policies.
‘Respectful Workplace’ Policy in Revised Code of Conduct
In one of my first messages to the University community, I acknowledged that many people had shared their views that adherence to law and formal policy is not sufficient, and that our community needs to hold its members accountable to higher standards. I agree that we need ways to hold each other accountable for behavior that is unprofessional or hurtful, even when it does not rise to a violation of law or policy. I have worked to find a way to incorporate some basic expectations for behavior into our community fabric.
During the course of its work, the Policy 106 committee discussed ideas for a “respectful workplace” policy, designed to address behavior that may not be unlawful and thus not a violation of the policy, but is nevertheless incompatible with University standards and expectations. The committee recognized the importance of providing a vehicle for complaint and potential redress for employees who are concerned that they have not been treated fairly or respectfully, but who have experienced behavior that was not severe or pervasive, or not directed at someone due to membership in a protected class, and thus not covered by Policy 106. A Culture of Respect at the University of Rochester must go beyond specific laws, rules, and regulations to incorporate clearer understanding of what we expect of our community in terms of how they should be treated and how they should treat others. The purpose of the Meliora values is to define for ourselves–and to make ourselves accountable–the ways we engage with one another, with our community, with our visitors, with our patients, and with anyone who comes into contact with members of this institution.
A respectful workplace statement has been incorporated into a revision of the University’s Code of Conduct, with a section titled “Principles of Conduct”. While currently in draft form, the revised code aims to set expectations for behavior that aligns with the new Vision and Values statement. It currently reads: “Disrespectful behavior that may not meet the legal definitions of discrimination or harassment in Policy 106 may nonetheless violate this code. There is no place at the University for behavior that is intended to be hurtful, bullying, or demeaning.” Once the policy language has been reviewed by the Senior Leadership Group, President’s Cabinet, UDEC, Faculty Senate, and relevant Board of Trustees committees, the new Code of Conduct will be made operational.
Advisors and Conflict Managers
The White Report also recommended making available a pool of trained advisors to assist those who may be considering submitting a formal complaint of sexual misconduct, as well as individuals accused of sexual harassment. The nature of the “advisor” role is complex, and there are differences between an advisor who helps either a potential claimant or an accused party understand the process, and an advisor or “advocate” who provides support to a claimant or an accused party in matters involving sexual harassment. In February 2018, the University identified two advisors and additional resources to assist claimants, potential claimants, or an accused in matters involving claims of sexual harassment by a faculty member: University Intercessors Lynnett Van Slyke and Frederick Jefferson. The University also identified more clearly Human Resource Business Partners as resources particularly for staff.
The Policy 106 committee considered the extent to which advisors should be part of the University’s investigative process once an allegation of discrimination or harassment based on membership in a protected class is raised against an employee, including faculty members, and concluded that complainants and respondents should be permitted to have a “support person” of their choosing present during any part of their participation in the Policy 106 process. We are currently looking at ways to further expand our resources relating to informal conflict management.
Beyond retooling University values and policies, an important step in strengthening the climate is ensuring a fundamental understanding of expectations governing behavior. This begins with a renewed focus on our mandatory and elective training options related to harassment/discrimination and unconscious bias. Over the summer, the Office of Human Resources launched an online diversity learning series, required for faculty and staff and available through MyPath, the University’s Human Resources Talent Management system. Led by Human Resources, the University undertook a comprehensive review of training programs for gender-based harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias, and launched a required Diversity Learning Series for faculty and staff in July 2018. The first learning series focused on implicit bias. An additional series on harassment and discrimination launched later in the fall. These trainings are intended to provide a common baseline knowledge and vocabulary for all faculty and staff. The Office of Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Implicit Bias Team are also hosting a series of two-hour, in-person sessions intended for continued learning and discussion concerning the topic of implicit bias. The Experiential Implicit Bias series is intended to supplement the mandatory Unconscious Bias Awareness training module in MyPath. A new web page on the University’s Diversity and Inclusion website focuses on both mandatory and voluntary educational opportunities, including:
- Diversity Learning Series
- Experiential Implicit Bias Series
- MyPath Online Education
- Ongoing In-Person Opportunities
- Education and Training Events
New Annual Reports
In an effort to ensure transparency and accountability, and to keep the University community well-informed about our goals and progress, the University will regularly share relevant data on diversity and inclusion, sexual misconduct, and bias-related incidents. Toward this end, in early December, the University released its twelfth annual report on diversity and inclusion, and issued its first annual reports of sexual misconduct prevention and response and bias-related incidents. An additional report on Policy 106 complaints is forthcoming. To protect the privacy of complainants and respondents, the reports do not provide specific case or incident information, but rather generalized information about the number and types of incidents reported. This kind of reporting is becoming more and more commonplace in higher education and it is important information to share with the community, not only to understand current issues, but also to hold the University accountable.
Key Steps: Leadership and Organization
- University Diversity and Equity Council
- Office of Equity and Inclusion and New Vice President for Equity and Inclusion
- New investigator
University Diversity and Equity Council
Creating lasting, cultural change begins with setting a tone at the top and welcoming many voices to the table. As one of my first actions as president, I assembled the University Diversity and Equity Council (UDEC), a successor group to the Presidential Diversity Council and the Presidential Diversity Council Implementation Committee formed in December 2016 following the release of the report of the Commission on Race and Diversity. The UDEC is a relatively large council composed of faculty, staff, and students from across the University. Its executive committee functions as an advisory group that reviews recommendations and ideas coming from various sources on campus and provides me with advice and guidance. The UDEC is charged to collaborate, share best practices, report on progress, and identify University priorities, goals, and requirements. I am currently serving as chair; my hope is that in the future, the new vice president for equity and inclusion will lead the UDEC. In its advisory role, the group has reviewed a number of significant actions of broad University consequence focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Office of Equity and Inclusion and New Vice President for Equity and Inclusion
Last spring, I engaged DeEtta Jones and Associates (DJA), a nationally known consulting firm with specific expertise in workplace culture, diversity, and inclusion, to assess the University’s current diversity climate and programmatic resources. Representatives from the firm met with key stakeholders and focus groups across the institution, and conducted benchmarking of best practices at peer institutions. DJA made initial recommendations for structuring a new office that would lead diversity and inclusion efforts University-wide and also oversee equal opportunity matters.
Drawing on the recommendations of DJA, and with support of the UDEC, I launched a search in early November for a new vice president for equity and inclusion, who will be the University’s chief diversity officer, reporting directly to the president. The 14-member peer-nominated search committee, which I am chairing, is aided by the executive search firm Diversified Search. The expectation is that President Designate Sarah Mangelsdorf will be involved in the final selection of the new officer. The new vice president will establish the new Office of Equity and Inclusion and will be responsible for appropriate staffing and supervision of all strategic diversity initiatives and organizational issues related to the development of this new office.
As currently envisioned, the new vice president for equity and inclusion will bring together the existing offices of faculty and staff diversity, and oversee a new office consisting of two associate vice presidents, one focused on compliance (Title IX, Title VII, Equal Opportunity, ADA, Affirmative Action, and investigations), and the other focused on equity and inclusion (recruitment, retention, climate, programming, training, reporting, and accountability). In addition to overseeing these key functions, the vice president will work collaboratively with diversity professionals in all of the academic colleges and administrative areas to advance the University’s diversity and inclusion goals. Working closely with the president, deans, and other senior leaders and campus constituencies, the new vice president will lead the process of creating and implementing a University-wide diversity strategic plan that includes recruitment, training, communication, policy, and metrics. Working with others across campus to support the many ongoing efforts to promote community engagement, this individual will identify and pursue opportunities to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment, including promoting the University’s Vision and Values Statement.
To begin the work of bringing together the various units working in the area of compliance, I asked Rick Crummins, currently deputy general counsel, to serve in an interim role as the associate vice president for equal opportunity. In this capacity, he reports directly to me. He has extensive knowledge and experience in these areas, having served in the University’s Office of Counsel since 1997.
The second unit within the new office will be focused on recruitment, retention, support, and climate for faculty, staff and students. Maggie Kearney, vice provost and dean of graduate studies, now serves as the interim associate vice president for diversity inclusion. In this role, she is systematically identifying and meeting with all offices and groups involved in diversity and inclusion work and planning a proposed structure and centralized communication and resources for the new office. In this capacity, Maggie Kearney also reports to me.
A new investigator has been hired to work exclusively on investigating internal discrimination and harassment claims under Policy 106. This role will be part of the new Office of Equity and Inclusion and will not report to the Office of Counsel. The new investigator is expected to begin work in early February.
To succeed in implementing sustainable change, the University must continue to work to identify and address challenges within the organization related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. To have meaningful impact, all members of the community will be expected to understand and be encouraged to champion the University’s Vision and Values Statement. From senior leaders to staff and faculty to students as well as alumni, each individual must ensure that the University of Rochester welcomes, includes, and values everyone.
There are many opportunities for continued improvement. A significant priority remains cultivating a more diverse staff, faculty, and student body in all schools and departments. Training and education on unconscious bias and cultural literacy will continue to be critical as the University works to embrace a more inclusive and diverse environment. We anticipate substantial progress in the coming year as we move toward creating a new central Office of Equity and Inclusion led by a new vice president.
I continue to welcome your feedback through the Respect website feedback form.
White Report Recommendations and Progress
1. Create a brochure to outline rights and procedures for sexual harassment claims Done; see Respect Website and Student and Faculty/Staff Guides.
2a. Develop a list of advisors for claimants and accused in claims of sexual harassment by a faculty member Done; (University Intercessors, Lynnett Van Slyke, Frederick Jefferson, HR Business Partners).
2b. Hire counsel to advise on sexual harassment claims by a faculty member Done; advisors (not counsel) are in place; new Policy 106 is permitting the use of “support persons” during the process of investigation.
3. Review sexual harassment training programs Done; required Diversity Learning Series launched in Fall 2018 and additional training available.
4. Revise Policy 106 Revised Policy circulated to the community in December 2018, with comment period open until January 23, 2019.
5. Retain expert outside counsel to advise on new procedures regarding confidentiality of claim investigations Done; advice received from Littler Mendelson, P.C., and incorporated into new Policy 106.
6. Publish annual data about complaints and their resolution Done; new 2018 reports published for Diversity, Title IX, and Bias-Related Incidents. Policy 106 Report forthcoming.
7. Review and revise IT policy Review completed, with recommendations published; revised policy in final stages of approval process.
8. Improve online access to policies and procedures Done; see Respect Website and Student and Faculty/Staff Guides.
9. Review faculty intimate relationships policy Done; approval by Board of Trustees in May 2018; Conflicting Relationships Policy to be amended to address relationships between staff and students.
10. Dedicate an office to investigate sexual harassment or misconduct New Interim Associate Vice President appointed to oversee investigations. Search complete for new investigator, who will begin in February.
11. Appoint a senior official to oversee implementation of the recommendations President Feldman has overseen implementation directly; search launched for new Vice President for Equity and Inclusion.
12. Create a trustee-level committee to oversee implementation Done; Committee established in March 2018 and continuing to meet monthly.