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IU working to transform campuses into national models of equity, inclusion

As part of a university-wide effort to transform Indiana University’s campuses into a model of equity and inclusion, IU is examining and enhancing its diversity-related programs, structures and practices.

James Wimbush. Photo by Anna Powell Denton James Wimbush. Photo by Anna Powell Denton

Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs James Wimbush shared details about the work during the Board of Trustees’ Feb. 2 meeting on the IU East campus.

“We recognize that the work at IU extends back decades, and we are honored to be the benefactors of this rich legacy,” Wimbush said. “As our office prepares to enter its 25th year, now is the time to transform, inspire and design a new aspirational blueprint that more accurately reflects our continued work to support diversity, equity and inclusion for all.”

The aspirations call for IU to improve underrepresented minority representation among campus peer groups; enhance diversity among IU’s administrative and academic leadership; and be recognized as a model for diversity, equity and inclusion.

The university is establishing metrics to assess its efforts in multiple areas. Additional student-, faculty- and staff-focused initiatives, as well as professional and cultural development opportunities, will be announced in the coming months.

Perhaps the most immediately visible shift would be the office’s name change to the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The change will go into effect July 1.

“This new name better reflects the purpose of our office’s work and responsibilities and iterates the university’s goals of creating a campus climate and culture that fosters the value and respect of all community members and celebrates differences,” Wimbush said.

The history of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs extends to 1999, when then-IU President Myles Brand and Chancellor Ken Gros Louis appointed Charlie Nelms to a dual position for student development, academic support and diversity.

Presidential Diversity Hiring Initiative

Wimbush also shared an update on the Presidential Diversity Hiring Initiative. Spearheaded by IU President Pamela Whitten and launched in the fall of 2021, this first-of-its-kind, $30 million seven-year program was developed to diversify the number of tenure-track faculty members from traditionally underrepresented groups in higher education across the university’s campuses.

In the first year, IU received 52 accepted offers from faculty. Moving into the initiative’s second year, the university already has nine accepted offers, including four deferred from the first year.

Faculty and belonging update

The university’s first associate vice president for faculty and belonging, Pamela Braboy Jackson, also addressed members of the Board of Trustees. Since stepping into her role in June, Jackson said she has worked to further build community and a sense of belonging among faculty on all campuses.

“Students thrive in environments where they have opportunities to engage with a diverse faculty who are teaching a variety of interesting courses and/or conducting research on topics that both fascinate them and provide opportunities for them to participate,” she said.

Jackson said continuing work includes faculty learning groups that are devising strategies and resources for inclusive classroom environments, as well as book manuscript and grant-writing workshops.