Update on Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Thursday, July 09, 2020

As shared in early June in response to continued injustices faced by underrepresented groups, particularly the Black community, the Rose-Hulman leadership team is dedicated to building a more just, equitable and inclusive community, starting within our own. To that end, we are working collaboratively with other campus groups to find increased ways to deliver on our mission to provide the world’s best undergraduate STEM education in a more inclusive environment that promotes diversity and equity. While we are pleased to report that our Fall 2020 class will have the highest number of Black first-year students in the Institute’s history, Rose-Hulman needs to be a leader in recruiting and educating a diverse student body for a global future.

In the coming days, weeks, and months we plan to implement or are already taking a number of actionable steps to further the build of a more just, equitable and inclusive community.  These include:

  • Developing a longer-term student recruitment plan focused on identifying and recruiting a diverse student body.
  • Revising the hiring process to recruit diverse faculty and staff. A committee is currently furthering revision/development of our hiring manual, application process, search committee training, hiring rubric, including best practices from EEOC and ADA.
  • Adding diversity education, specifically in areas of cultural awareness, implicit bias, and microaggressions, to the annual RHIT 100 course for all first-year students. More in-depth programming on these topics, plus safe zone training and conversations regarding race will be offered in other student activities and programs.
  • Initiating a campus-wide book read of Robin Diangelo’s award-winning book “White Fragility” for faculty and staff. The book unpacks and educates readers on matters of racism, white privilege, and anti-racism. Registration for the book read has been strong, with ~100 faculty and staff participating. Small groups have begun meeting for discussion and will continue to meet through July. Once the read has ended, there will be an information session to discuss takeaways from the book and develop potential action items.
  • Completing the purchase of a Diversity Training Package of 20 diversity education workshops, each running 60 to 90 minutes. We plan to offer these workshops throughout the academic year for all faculty, staff, and students. They are intended to serve as touchpoints in addition to our quarterly Diversity Education Series, and can also be facilitated by student diversity organizations. Workshop topics will include microaggressions, implicit bias, gender equality, race, anti-racism, and equity.
  • Meeting with the Cultural Intelligence Center to discover ways to bring cultural intelligence and unconscious bias certification training to campus for leadership and faculty beginning in August.
  • Creating a virtual comment box for students, faculty, and staff to ask questions related to race, racism, and anti-racism in order to foster an environment based on communication and understanding.
  • Producing a video through the Center for Diversity and Inclusion based on the poem, “What if 2020 Wasn’t Canceled?” The poem discusses the momentous changes occurring in 2020 and using this time to be a catalyst for change in our community. The video will feature faculty, staff and students talking about their experiences and their goals to facilitate change.

These are just initial steps as we work towards developing a longer-term diversity action plan. The Cabinet and I are currently reviewing additional steps that can assist in our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion as a part of our planning this summer.  We look forward to seeing the positive results these initiatives and future ones will have on each of us individually, our collective campus, and in turn, our broader society.

Robert A. Coons, President

The President’s Cabinet