TU unveils five year plan to advance equity and diversity on campus

By: Caitlyn Freeman, Assistant Editor

The Towson University Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity (OIIE) hosted a virtual Town Hall on Nov. 10 for students, faculty, alumni and staff to discuss their recently unveiled Diversity Strategic Plan known as “A More Inclusive TU: Advancing Equity and Diversity.”

The event, which was hosted by Assistant Vice President of Equity and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator, Patricia Bradly, focused on presenting the plan, which is to be implemented from 2020 to 2025, and answering questions from attendees. 

As explained in the document detailing the plan, the idea came about in September of 2018 when President Kim Schatzel created the task force through the office of OIIE. 

Schatzel provided the task force with four primary questions: 

  • How do we further promote the president’s Model for Campus Diversity? 
  • What is the climate on campus related to diversity and inclusion, and how is it experienced by individuals and members of the community? 
  • What is needed to recruit and retain a diverse faculty, senior administration and student population? 
  • How do we further cultivate a culturally responsive campus where all community members feel a sense of belonging?

Based on the questions presented by Schatzel, four main priority areas were developed: Education and Scholarship. Recruitment, Retention and Success, Campus Climate and Evaluation and Assessment. 

“The plan serves as the guide, kind of a roadmap to Towson University, as we work to create the

University, Towson University, that will create a sense of belonging equity that we have begun to work on in the last few years,” said Vice President of the OIIE Dr. Leah Cox. 

According to Cox, the plan was completed during what she called a difficult time in terms of racial relations in America, which the office tried to address within the plan. 

“We recognize that this plan was reaching its completion during a time in our nation where there racial and social injustices and strife, that climaxed to a level that had never been experienced in over a decade,” Cox said. “We recognize this and tried to address some of these things in our plan. So this plan being the work needed to develop, again, the inclusive excellence that we’re seeking.” 

According to the OIIE, in 2019, the task force took part in data collection in order to gain perspective regarding the issues on campus. 

“These conversations also revealed the need to continue to address and remove structural inequities,” the webpage states. 

Education and Scholarship

The Education and Scholarship priority focuses on preparing those within the TU community to face diversity and inclusion issues. 

“How do we continue to really institutionalize the support for professional development for

staff and faculty,” said Coordinator of Diversity Training & Initiatives Brain Jara. “How do we expand and grow the available curriculum and educational opportunities available to students when it comes to all things DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion]? And then ultimately, how do we begin to create, institutionalized, repositories and resources, and we have already begun to explore how to do that.”

The University will also develop resources for faculty to establish inclusive teaching and research behaviors and increase student participation in the education of faculty related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Recruitment, Retention and Success

As a part of the Recruitment, Retention and Success priority, it has the goal of creating and revising protocols within TU that creates a pipeline for students and faculty to succeed. 

Jara says this priority will constantly be readdressed in order to develop a better environment. 

“And, it is really about new and innovative creative and sustainable ways to continue to diversify not just the student population, but our staff and our faculty,” Jara said. 

The Campus Climate

This priority includes creating a “sustainable and inclusive” community within the University. To do this, the plan proposes actions like educating new faculty and students about the language of the plan and TU policies, as well as regularly assessing situations through the equity toolkit.

“TU’s equity toolkit is a collection of resources and guides for calling attention to patterns of inequity linked to one or more social identity markers,” the plan explains. 

Evaluation and Assessment

The final priority is Evaluation and Assessment, which includes the implementation of procedures and policies that the plan says will enable them to collect progress reports and data regarding the other three pillars. 

In terms of moving forward, Jara explained that the task force sees this plan as a five year plan that may be altered if needed. He also encouraged those interested to provide feedback about the plan through their website. 

“We will be relying on a task force to assist us each year, with developing the annual report, that will measure progress, from year to year for the next five years,” Jara said. “So that’s our hope for the entire campus.”

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