Announced in June 2020, Ohio Wesleyan’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Action Plan is intended to create meaningful and immediate change on campus. These actions, focused on four key areas, involve making positive changes to:
- The University’s structure and policies to strengthen equitable and inclusive practices.
- The ways we deliver our core mission of teaching and learning.
- The ways we recruit and retain students and employees.
- The measures we use to ensure that our campus climate affirms clearly and boldly the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To share suggestions for additional Action Plan updates, please use the “We Are Listening” DEI Improvement Form.
Last updated February 2, 2021
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan
Structure and Policies
- Bias Reporting: Students, faculty, and staff who have been the subject of or a witness to concerning incidents can now use the Campus Climate Report form to report their concerns. The Campus Climate Support Team receives the report and strategizes how to provide support along with a University response. The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs maintains the University’s Campus Climate reporting options and encourages all students, faculty, and staff to report any concerns about the campus climate that impact the living and learning environment.
- Leadership: We continue to benefit from our new diversity and equity leadership team. Dawn Chisebe continues as our interim chief diversity officer, Jason Timpson enters his second semester as director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and we have increased funding within that office. Dawn and Jason have provided important leadership in all of this work, including a significant increase in diversity-focused student programming in OMSA and other departments, and increased support of student advocacy.
- Public Safety: We are drafting a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan for Public Safety, which includes an external review of the department. Dr. Simone Drake, the Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University, is now engaged to lead this review and has recently led similar work within local law enforcement departments. The plan includes four main components: training and development requirements for Public Safety staff on DEI competencies, a policy and operations review using external qualified consultants, stronger data analysis efforts and reporting transparency, and a focus on relationship development efforts between Public Safety and the campus community. The work began in December with an initial conversation with a group of students. We want to expand the number of students engaged in this work. Students interested in providing input into this process should contact Jason Timpson.
Half of the Public Safety staff has completed the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) Groundwater course, and the remaining half will be completing the training Feb. 16. Additionally, Public Safety staff will be attending the REI Phase One two-day course in early 2021 upon completion of the Groundwater course, which is designed to develop the capacity of participants to better understand racism in its institutional and structural forms.
A Student & Public Safety Advisory Committee is being established. Advised by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, this committee will be student-led and will advise on important Public Safety issues, such as policy revisions currently underway.
The new hire process for PS Officers has been updated to include representation from students and faculty during interviews. The Public Safety Officer job posting was also rewritten to encourage a more diverse candidate pool.
Also related to Public Safety, we are developing, with important input from students, protocols for criteria that should be met in order to call Delaware Police to campus.
We are establishing a process for students to petition for a free parking pass if they are unable to afford a B or C pass and for whom a free D pass is insufficient.
We are establishing a process for students who have a temporary or permanent mobility issue to be provided with designated parking locations closer to the buildings they need to enter.
We have concluded an investigation prompted by student concerns about particular personnel. The investigation resulted in a set of recommendations and insights, some of which we have acted on already and some that are informing our larger DEI plan.
- Procurement: We have joined the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, and OWU’s Director of Purchasing has attended a virtual meeting of the group. We have begun to use the database of State of Ohio-certified minority-owned businesses in our search for contracted services. Following the modification of our procurement software system, we are now looking to set baseline values for our levels of expenditures from minority suppliers. We continue to work on revised procurement policies that include our commitment to POC-owned businesses. Going forward, our contracts for University construction or renovation will include a goal for the percentage of minority-owned business participation.
- Human Resources: Prior to the semester break, the University launched the search for our next Director of Human Resources. This leadership position will be critical to our success in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion at OWU. We are looking for a director who has proven successful experience developing and implementing change-management strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. The application window closed Jan. 25.
Teaching and Learning
- Training: We have instituted DEI training for OWU employees, which began Jan. 25 and includes training to understand implicit bias, develop language tools for clearer campus communication, and understand how dominant culture norms can manifest in the workplace. Fifty employees began the three in-depth workshops this month, with each workshop being followed by smaller group discussions led by members of the DEI Council. These workshops will be completed by additional cohorts in the future, with the ultimate goal of including all employees in such workshops. The online training modules will be implemented by each division of the University following completion of the workshop series. These modules will be taken by all OWU employees, search committees, and students this Spring. All new students and employees will complete the module series as part of their orientations to OWU.
- Faculty Equity Fellows: Ohio Wesleyan has announced a faculty development teaching initiative in Academic Affairs that supports a cohort of 25 faculty through a seven-month reading series and a set of curriculum workshops to retool a course to make it equitable and inclusive. The Equity Fellows were announced Jan. 25.
- Board Committee: The Board of Trustees, which oversees OWU at the highest level, formed the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, a standing committee of the Board, which is being chaired by Myron McCoy ’77. The Code of Regulations states “The Committee shall review and evaluate purposes, policies and programs of the University, including strategies for creating a climate that is welcoming and supportive, through the lens of diversity, equity & inclusion and the work of Anti-Racism. The Committee shall meet periodically with representatives of diverse and potentially marginalized communities at OWU, including students, faculty, and staff, to engage in dialogue about their experiences at OWU.”
Recruitment and Retention
- Faculty Hiring (Focused Cohort): In our academic programs, we have launched a search process for 10 new tenure-track faculty as a cohort with a particular focus on flexibility, interdisciplinarity, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. These hires get us close to the faculty count of 100 approved by the Board of Trustees. The required emphasis on DEI in each of the 10 searches offers the possibility to significantly enhance diversity within our faculty.
- DEI Emphasis in Positions: Many positions have a DEI focus or speciality including: African American literature position in English; Social justice and inclusive/applied Theatre positions in Theatre; Elementary Education position that includes Teaching for Equity and Social Justice in Education; Art History position that includes specialties in African and/or African Diasporic, Latinx and/or Latin American, and/or Native American history of art, and/or interest in socially engaged and community-based practices in Art; and an Africana, Gender, and Identity Studies position. All other positions include language in job advertisements encouraging DEI experience, courses, interest, etc.
- DEI Emphasis in Hiring Process: All job advertisements contain inclusive language to build the largest funnel for a diverse pool. This new advertisement language highlights OWU’s anti-racist and equity commitments, describes our location (including Columbus) and benefits, and features an expanded EEOC statement. For the first time, all applications will contain not only a statement about teaching but also a statement about the applicant’s DEI philosophy, teaching, practice, and work with students. New web pages have been built highlighting DEI community-based resources in our region and a landing page describing our Ohio 5 and GLCA consortia signaling our wider BIPOC faculty communities for incoming faculty. Newly created OWU affinity groups for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ faculty also are listed on the website. All job advertisements will be posted in at least one if not more DEI-focused academic professional organizations and/or sites. New processes have been constructed to post the “multiple position job advertisement” in as many DEI-focused academic professional organizations as possible.
- DEI Training in Hiring Process: Department chairs, departments, and DEI search inclusion advocates will receive anti- and implicit bias training. Search committees will receive support and workshops throughout the entire job process on equitable hiring practices including creating inclusive job advertisements, selecting candidates for interviewing, best practice in interviewing, inclusive virtual “on-campus” interviews, and then post-hire inclusive on-boarding.
- Recruitment: In the recruitment of staff, our search and hiring procedures now have mandatory pre-search meetings with hiring managers and search committees to aid in the development of plans for the active recruitment of diverse populations. As appropriate to the position being searched, applicant materials and interviews will include questions relating to applicants’ engagement with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. We have joined the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a national organization committed to inclusive excellence in hiring, retention, and advancement of faculty and staff from historically excluded populations.
- Supporting Diverse Faculty and Staff: We recognize that retention of faculty and staff representing diverse populations is very important and needs attention. To this end, the Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has organized two groups that will meet regularly to provide opportunities for rest, relaxation, collegial support, and fun. Bishops of Color will include faculty and staff of color, and the Mosaic OWU Faculty & Staff Group for OWU’s faculty and staff who are part of LGBTQIA+ community/ies.
- Grants: We have developed a DEI Grant Program, which is now live and accepting applications from faculty, staff, and students with funds to be used for projects that support OWU as an antiracist space. This includes potential policy/program analysis, curricular changes/course development, small-scale survey work, creative works, or community conversations leading to evidenced-based, actionable recommendations for specific change, clear benefits, or small-scale pilot implementation. Grants will be overseen and awarded by the Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Preference will be given to proposals that involve multiple individuals from multiple organizations and/or departments on campus.
- Enrollment and Communications: We have fully implemented a test optional policy for admission and scholarship consideration, providing greater access to scholarship dollars for students without consideration of standardized test scores, which historically have been racially biased. In addition, we have set a date for a spring admission event focusing on traditionally marginalized students (admitted seniors and high school juniors) to encourage shared perspectives on current issues from faculty, students and alumni. University Communications held a focus group in November with students of color to gain perspective on OWU’s marketing and promotional efforts.
- Scholarship: We have named the Charles Thomas Scholarship for incoming students in honor of the pioneering Black student-athlete who overcame intense racism to compete and star on the OWU baseball and football teams from 1903-05. He inspired Branch Rickey, who later helped integrate Major League Baseball. Thomas went on to earn a degree in dentistry from The Ohio State University and had a long and successful career in New Mexico as one of the first Black dentists in the state. The University currently is raising funds in support of this scholarship endowment. Properly recognizing Charles Thomas is long overdue at OWU.
- Town Relations: We have begun a dialogue with City of Delaware officials, the Delaware Police Department, and local business owners to improve the neighborhood climate for students of color. We are embedded within the City of Delaware, and city streets run throughout our campus. Delaware Police have a responsibility to keep these streets and our neighborhood safe, and we have the responsibility to work with them to understand our campus community and to protect our students and help them feel safe.
- The Delaware MLK Committee and OWU pre-recorded a panel discussion featuring local leaders and activists discussing “The Way Forward” in today’s national climate. This annual event also is responsible for raising funds for the MLK Scholarship fund for Delaware students.
- Programming: The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) has developed a robust array of programs throughout the spring semester that provide opportunities for education, support, and recognition of our diverse campus community. Those events will be advertised through the OWU Daily, and will soon be available on the OMSA website.