Task Force Hears Update on Campus Diversity Strategy

Task Force Hears Update on Campus Diversity Strategy

By Alexis BlueUniversity Relations - Communications
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The UA's Diversity Coordinating Council is working on a campuswide diversity and inclusion strategy to work in concert with the University's Never Settle strategic plan.

Tannya Gaxiola, chair of the council, provided an update on the effort on Monday, during the second meeting of the UA's Diversity Task Force.

"When we have the strategy developed and approved, this is the diversity strategy for our Never Settle strategic and business plan," said Gaxiola, UA assistant vice president for Community Relations. "So it will be linked right off our Never Settle website and become part of the metrics and the work that we do in order to be achieving our goals as an institution."

The Diversity Coordinating Council was established by Provost Andrew Comrie in 2014 and includes individuals who work directly on diversity and inclusion issues as part of their formal University roles. Its primary priorities have been developing a campuswide strategy for diversity and inclusion and defining the role of the UA's chief diversity officer, a new position that is close to being filled, and will lead the UA's Office of Diversity Initiatives.

The Diversity Task Force, on the other hand, was formed this semester to address diversity-related concerns expressed by students both in writing and in listening tours with the UA president and with faculty. The group includes students and employees from various areas of campus and is working in subcommittees to address concerns in multiple areas.

Gaxiola serves as a chair of both groups. The other co-chairs of the Diversity Task Force are Bryan Carter, associate professor of Africana studies, and Javier Duran, professor of Spanish and border studies and director of the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry.

Gaxiola said the Diversity Coordinating Council's efforts center on developing a strategy that would help establish diversity as a competitive strength for the UA by concentrating on key focus areas such as faculty and staff recruitment and retention; student recruitment and pipeline building; student retention, graduation and success; community partnerships; and University systems, physical structures and campus climate.

She gave an overview of a number of strategic imperatives identified by the Diversity Coordinating Council: rewarding and supporting the development of diverse curricula; rewarding and supporting diversity in research priorities; diversifying the student and employee population to be more reflective of the greater community; expanding and improving student success programs; ensuring a climate of access and inclusion in learning, working and social environments; and strengthening relationships with diverse communities.

The Diversity Task Force was the second group on campus to hear the update on the Diversity Coordinating Council's efforts around a campuswide diversity strategy. The information also was shared with the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee and will be presented to student, community and employee governance groups, including the Faculty Senate, Appointed Professionals Advisory Council and Classified Staff Council.

"We're going to be taking it to anyone who wants to hear about it and have input into it," Gaxiola said.

Anyone interested in scheduling a presentation for a campus group should email Gaxiola at tannya@email.arizona.edu.

The Diversity Task Force used the second half of its Monday meeting to break into subcommittees and begin work in a number of areas, including, but not limited to, the classroom experience; health and wellness; faculty and staff diversity; space and facilities; and student support.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart stopped by the meeting to express her support for the group's efforts to "create a new U of A that is more inclusive and diverse and welcoming."

"I can't thank you all enough and I just want to assure you that we will all be a part of this together," she said.

"We will be here across the spectrum of students, faculty and staff to make sure that we build the kind of campus community that we want to have."

For more information about the Diversity Task Force and its upcoming meetings and how you can get involved, visit diversity.arizona.edu

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