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University of Missouri System leaders share progress on diversity and inclusion initiatives

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John Fougere

September 13, 2016

On November 9, 2015, the University of Missouri Board of Curators announced a series of initiatives to address diversity and inclusion on its campuses. Today, Board Chair Pamela Henrickson; MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley; UM System Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and MU Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Kevin McDonald; and UM System Interim President Michael Middleton shared updates on the initiatives that show significant progress.  

  • Appoint a first-ever Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer for the UM System.

On March 23, Middleton announced the hiring of Dr. Kevin McDonald as the UM System’s first-ever Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer (CDO). The appointment was effective June 1. As UM System CDO, McDonald is working to identify and address organizational and systemic issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion within the larger context of the university enterprise. This includes implementing policies and best practices in operational areas including human resources, finance and academic affairs. He serves as an adviser to the UM System president and general officers to implement diversity efforts with leaders across the system, oversee collaborative projects with the four campuses and health care, and develop programs to affect lasting institutional changes. 

  • Initiate a full review of all UM System policies as they relate to staff and student conduct;

On May 23, Middleton announced the launch of a system-wide audit, conducted by an independent firm Interactive Business Inclusion Solutions (IBIS) Consulting Group. The audit is on track to be completed by the end of the calendar year. The audit includes focus groups and individual interviews with students, faculty, staff and leadership at all four campuses and at the system. We also conducted surveys and reviewed policies, practices and procedures through the lens of diversity and inclusion. Separate focus groups with students and faculty will be conducted this fall.

  • Provide additional support for students, faculty and staff who have experienced discrimination and disparate treatment.

On February 3, the UM System announced one-time funding of $921,000 for campus initiatives to enhance progress toward creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable institution.  Those initiatives included a campus climate survey, additional training for campus and system administration, as well as students, and mental health support. The needs were identified in collaboration with campuses and the funding will address joint priorities as well as the unique needs of each campus. This initial funding support will be augmented at a later time.

  • Provide additional support for the hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff;

Diverse faculty is a top priority. MU’s goal is to double the percentage of historically underrepresented faculty by 2020. Currently 6.7 percent of MU faculty members are from underrepresented groups. To accomplish this goal, MU has added $600,000 to its Faculty Incentive and Excellence Fund to target recruitment and retention of diverse faculty. With these additional funds, MU officials will have more than $1.3 million to use toward recruiting and retaining diverse faculty this academic year.
Today, Foley announced a $1 million investment that will come from Intellectual Property revenue to recruit minority post-doctoral fellows who will come to MU as pre-faculty fellows with the goal of retaining them in the long-term. MU will seek additional donations to continue this endeavor in future years.

In addition, on Nov. 9, the Board of Curators announced its plan to ensure effective next steps through an open communication process that invites perspective from across the system.
These steps are to:

  • Create a diversity, inclusion and equity task force to develop both a short- and long-term strategy, plan and metrics for the UM System based on an inventory and audit of current programs, policies and practices.

On December 27, 2015, Middleton named Dr. David Mitchell, MU associate dean for Academic Affairs and associate professor of Law, chair of the UM System’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. The task force is working with stakeholders across the system’s four campuses and health system to understand the complex issues at hand and develop recommendations and corresponding metrics to address those issues.

  • Establish campus-based task forces to develop diversity, inclusion and equity strategies, plans and metrics.

These task forces are still in development as the campuses await the results of the system-wide audit to guide strategies, plans and metrics.

  • Ensure that each UM System campus has a Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer reporting to the chancellor;

On November 10, 2015, MU named Chuck Henson, associate dean for Academic Affairs and trial practice at the School of Law, as the interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity. Each UM System campus now has a CDO reporting to its chancellor for the first time. Henson returned to the School of Law faculty for the fall semester. On June 14, McDonald was appointed MU’s interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity.

  • Launch a diversity, inclusion and equity leadership training and development education program, which includes the board of curators, president and administrative leadership, followed by broader faculty and staff training.

Leadership training and education programs have been and will continue to be developed to improve the multicultural awareness of faculty and staff. Once the system-wide audit is complete, additional awareness opportunities will be provided for senior leadership and the Board of Curators.

Specifically, on the MU campus:

  • Put a process in place to identify external diversity, inclusion and equity consultants to conduct a comprehensive assessment of diversity and inclusion efforts on campus.

This is part of the system-wide audit currently being conducted.

  • Conduct mandatory diversity, inclusion and equity training for all faculty, staff and future incoming students.

All incoming students, freshmen and transfer, are required to take the Citizenship@Mizzou orientation. This orientation is a two-hour interactive program designed to introduce new students to the values of MU and to the ways in which we engage with issues of citizenship on a richly varied and diverse campus. The goal of the program is to prepare students to critically think about MU and to recognize that the faculty, staff and student population includes people from a wide range of places, spaces, identities and views. The aim of the session is to orient new students to the potential of a great experience on the MU campus, both in and out of the classroom.
 

  • We will continue the comprehensive review of student mental health services to ensure that students are referred to the most appropriate resources for their needs.

MU continues to review its student mental health services on a regular basis.