ASHLAND -- AU President Carlos Campo has referred to the May 25 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis as “a watershed moment for our world and our campus,” and pledged that as a university “we will confront our biases and commit ourselves to ongoing education and action to bring about meaningful, lasting change.
Since that time, AU academic, executive and student affairs leadership have met regularly with campus constituents to develop some strategies for doing exactly that. Among them, President Campo is working to establish an advisory council of Black leaders and pastors who will work with him to help ensure that AU is being responsive to issues around systemic racism. In addition, university leadership will meet with City of Ashland leaders about maintaining an open dialogue about how these issues affect the greater Ashland area.
All new AU first year students will receive enhanced diversity and inclusion competency training as part of the Freshman Success Seminar, beginning this fall. In addition, a campus Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has completed a draft of a Diversity & Inclusion strategic plan which will be distributed to campus leaders this fall for their input and approval. Once completed, it will be integrated into AU’s Rich History, Bold Future 2025 Strategic Plan.
Other initiatives completed and/or soon to be implemented include:
· Working closely with HR to ensure that we are intentional about welcoming candidates of color to work at AU. This effort will include ensuring that we are advertising positions in more diverse publications, and working with all hiring managers about our institutional commitment to diverse hiring practices. We also must improve retention strategies for all employees, with careful attention paid to minority hires.
· Being more intentional about creating a platform for better dialogue around these issues. As Ashland University Alumni Association President Doretha Pendleton recently wrote as a follow-up to a meeting with students and faculty of color, “We must be deliberate in elevating the voices of Ashland's Black faculty, students and staff” at AU. We will place particular emphasis on hearing from our students of color to ensure that they are feeling safe and welcomed on our campus.
· Restoration of a full-time Director of Diversity and Inclusion position. Recognizing the elevated urgency of this watershed moment and wanting to ensure a full-time, sustained focus going forward, the position will no longer be expected to split time with work from the Office of Residence Life.
· The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has completed AU's first Bias Response Plan. It will be distributed for campus-wide input and approval and then will be integrated with the Student Handbook and other AU policy documents.
· This fall, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will co-sponsor a series of authentic dialog series where students, faculty, staff and community members will join to have brave and respectful conversations about improving campus and community life together. These dialogs may include conversations with local elected officials and law enforcement, emphasize faculty research and service, spotlight student leader initiatives, and will include focused time with University administration and other campus leaders.
To learn more about AU's Diversity and Inclusion programs, services and staff, go to this link.