Diversity Action Updates

Introduction

The BSU and ASUSF leaders have demonstrated their fervent commitment to a vision of USF as a genuinely inclusive community for all. I share that vision and thank these students for their commitment and for taking action to address inequities. I am also grateful for their willingness to engage in a constructive dialogue with me, a dialogue from which I have greatly benefited and to which I am committed on an ongoing basis.

A shared vision and a commitment to engagement must lead inexorably to action. Accordingly, I will outline here action steps to which the university’s senior leaders and I are committed. I will begin by rooting our future actions in our university core values and in our identity as an academic community in the Jesuit tradition.

USF Values and Identity

The University of San Francisco is a learning community where undergraduates and graduate students alike develop their full human capacity for empathy, justice, and progress; this transformative process includes learning about others and themselves. We affirm that a diverse student body, faculty, staff, and university leadership are essential for this transformation to be relevant to our world and true to our best selves.

As our core values hold (USF Vision, Mission, and Values), we are committed to:

  • Diversity of perspectives, experiences, and traditions as essential components of a quality education in our global context.
  • The full integral development of each person and all persons with the belief that no individual or group may rightfully prosper at the expense of others.

The USF educational experience can be maximized both by programs available to all and by programs appropriately tailored to respect our individual and community uniqueness. Furthermore, all students are entitled to expect that all USF staff, faculty, and programs are committed to their success.

USF’s history for inclusion is one in which we can take great pride. Three specific examples from our past:

  • By 1930, USF was one of the first fully integrated universities in the nation with African American, Native American, Latino, Asian, and white students participating in all programs together.
  • In 1951, the USF football team voted unanimously to reject a bowl bid if it meant they could not take their African American players with them.
  • The Black Student Union (BSU) was started at USF in 1969, “laying the groundwork for a new program of social awareness,” according to the 1969 USF Don Yearbook.

USF today is a nationally recognized leader in educating a diverse student population. Six examples from the present day:

  • In 2011, the Office of Diversity and Community Outreach was created under the direction of a vice provost.
  • In 2013, Diverseeducation.com listed USF as number one on its list of non-historically black colleges and universities that have excellent programs for minority students.
  • In 2015, USF was eighth in undergraduate student ethnic diversity among 280 national universities, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • The number of African American students increased 56.7 percent from 2000–15, from 418 to 655 students.
  • The number of African American full-time faculty in this time period increased 76.9 percent, from 13 to 23 and will increase again in the fall of 2016.
  • A 2015 marketing study commissioned by the university reported that diversity is seen as one of USF’s two greatest strengths (along with location) by prospective students, alumni, and academic peers.

In summary, both our values and our history compel us to take action so that USF continues to be a national leader in constantly building a truly inclusive community. The university now has opportunities and obligations toward unity in diversity that encompasses all communities and addresses present day and historical inequities between African Americans, Latinos/Latinas, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and whites, men and women, native-born and newcomers, domestic and international, adherents of different religions, sexual orientations and gender expressions.

Action Steps

Student Diversity

ACTION: The university will continue to increase student diversity, with particular efforts to maintain the current trend of increasing African American and Latino/a student enrollments.

The Office of Strategic Enrollment Management will hone our multicultural marketing plan that includes strategies for expanded recruitment areas, designation of specific admissions officers as diversity recruitment coordinators, and increased partnerships with external organizations and programs such as Visions of Success, Oakland Promise, and Richmond Promise.

Faculty and Staff Diversity

ACTION: The university will continue to increase faculty diversity. This includes increasing the number of African American and Latino/Latina faculty, and of women faculty.

In the face of the severe competition for the limited number of candidates of color, the university will do its utmost to intentionally recruit diverse faculty. This includes continued investment in the successful Ethnic Minority Dissertation Fellows program, recently renamed in honor of Dr. Gerardo Marin, and the PhD Project in the School of Management. All faculty search committees will strive for ethnic and gender diversity and will proactively generate a diverse pool of applicants.

We will be similarly intentional in seeking diverse pools of qualified candidates for open staff positions.

Cultural Competence Training

ACTION: Through its Department of Human Resources, the university instituted in February mandatory training for all employees regarding understanding, avoiding, and confronting microaggressions; we will also rededicate ourselves to fostering core competencies in promoting inclusive excellence.

ACTION: University Life will similarly improve our educational offerings to all new and continuing students by providing training to enhance their ability and commitment to recognize and combat micro-aggressions. A training component will be added to incoming student Orientation. This is currently being developed. BERT will be expanding its educational efforts.

The aim of this training should be the exchange of ideas and beliefs in order to educate ourselves and each other about different cultures, values, and experiences that we each bring and also in order to avoid artificially quelling speech unless it lacks the essential qualities of mutual respect for all at our university.

Student Life and Support Services

ACTION: Student Life will be charged with establishing an African American-experience floor that is open to students of any race and will promote an atmosphere of sharing and understanding.

ACTION: CASA Academic Success Coaches will continue to be trained in cultural competence and issues of special import to first-generation students. Special support groups will be established where indicated, such as the support group recently established for African American males.

In October 2016, CASA hired a new Academic Success Coach, Director of Global Student Academic Development.  One of the primary goals of this position is to support current programming and create new initiatives for the following underrepresented populations, with a focus on diverse student populations such as: African-American, Latin-American and Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous/Native American.  

CASA, along with the Student Life division, took part in the 2028 Diversity conversations this spring 2017.  The conversations were coordinated and documented by UCDI, as tasked by the president to hold a series of campus conversations designed to assess capacity and engagement from across the campus community in regards to our institutional commitment to educating students for leadership in a diverse and interdependent world, as we articulated in the consensus USF 2028 Strategic Plan.

CASA, along with the Student Life division, continues to focus on providing training opportunities and on-going conversations in the area of cultural competence and bias education for all of our staff.

ACTION: The Muscat Scholars Program helps first-generation college students achieve their goals by introducing them to academic expectations at USF and helping them design their own unique path to success. Scholars participate in a two-week academic and social preparation program prior to the start of their first semester at USF, and continue to live together as a cohort for the remainder of their first year. Scholars are assigned a peer mentor, a staff mentor, and a “tribe”; three elements that will provide them with social support throughout the program and their stay at USF.

ACTION: The PACT Program provides Men of Color with skill-based development, support and opportunities to enhance their overall academic career at the University of San Francisco. The intent is to create an environment where successful, high potential Men of Color come together to form a pact based on mentorship and accountability with the desire to increase retention and graduation rates. The PACT Program offers a professional network of key faculty and staff who can support and assist students involved in the program. PACT also promotes self-exploration, personal and leadership development as well as community engagement.

ACTION: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will continue to prioritize diversity in application screening and proactively seek candidates who would expand the CAPS clinicians’ understanding of culturally specific issues.

CAPS recently hired an African American clinician. Six out of eight of CAPS licensed psychology staff presently come from historically underrepresented communities. Five out of six current trainees come from historically underrepresented communities.

ACTION: ASUSF and other important student groups will be invited and empowered to further contribute to the improvement of our shared campus climate.

Marketing Communications

ACTION: The Office of Marketing Communications (OMC) will make every reasonable effort to accurately reflect the actual diversity of USF in its marketing and publicity materials even as it helps the recruitment efforts to increase the presence of underrepresented students, staff, and faculty on campus.

OMC will continue to interview and share the stories of diverse members of our university community and verify facts and quotes with the interview subject before publication in order to accurately reflect the experiences of members of the USF community. 

Assessment and Reporting

ACTION: The Center for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness will document and report to the campus community on the student and faculty populations by ethnic and gender groupings.

The latest report, “Select National, State, Local, and USF Information,” was compiled in January 2016.

ACTION: A Bias Education Response Team (BERT) will provide support to the individuals and communities impacted by any bias-related incidents.

The organizers will seek appropriate student, staff, and faculty with expertise and interest to serve on the BERT and to guide the development and deployment of this valuable resource for an improved campus climate.

ACTION: A campus climate survey among faculty, staff, and students will be conducted this Fall term (2017).

These surveys will provide important benchmarks by which we will measure our progress in fostering a campus culture that is respectful of the dignity of every member.

Conclusion

It is our great duty to bring together people of all backgrounds in order to move forward together in a Jesuit-inspired educational project committed to inclusive excellence. To this end, the university leaders and I are accountable for executing the above actions. Ultimately, full success will be achieved when our community is united in taking action to maximize the contributions of diversity to our academic community and united in a commitment to the full integral development of each person and all persons.

 

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.