UMass Amherst has a rich history in support of social justice and in efforts to improve the diversity, equity, and inclusion on our campus. Since our founding in 1862, we have strived to be a welcoming and diverse campus made up of individuals of different races, colors, religions, national origins, sexes, ages, disabilities, veteran statuses, sexual orientations, political affiliations, gender identities and expressions, marital statuses, and economic conditions. Below are brief highlights of our efforts and accomplishments related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Noteworthy Moments 

1870 - First international student, Brazilian Fiuza Barreto, attends Mass Agricultural College (Mass Aggie) as a "Select Class" (non-degree) student.

1872 - First international student to enter as a freshman, Japanese student Saitaro Naito, joins Mass Aggie.

1875 - Louise Mellicent Thurston becomes the first woman to enroll at Mass Aggie. She joined the College as a Select Class (non degree) student.

1903 - Lilly Berta Allen becomes the first woman to graduate from Mass Aggie.

1904 - Matthew Washington Bullock, the first black coach at an integrated American college, is hired.

1920 - Abigail Adams House, first women's dorm, is built.

1948 - Ed Driver (sociology) is hired and becomes the first African American faculty member.

1967 - The Committee for the Collegiate Education of Black Students is formed.

1968 - Committee for the Collegiate Education of Black Students helps enroll 128 African American students.

1969 - The Boltwood Project is founded.

1970 - W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies is founded.

1971 - Randolph W. Bromery becomes the first African American to serve as chancellor, and the second African American to lead a predominantly white campus across the U.S.

1971 - University Without Walls, one of the nation's first adult bachelor's degree completion programs, is founded.

1972 - The Everywoman's Center (now the Center for Women and Community) is established.

1975 - Women's Studies (now Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies) awards its first undergraduate degrees.

1975 - Visiting Professor Chinua Achebe presents his lecture “An Image of Africa” about racism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. (The 40th anniversary of this lecture was also celebrated with a symposium in 2015.)

1985 - Stonewall Center, an educational resource center for lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer and transgender, is created.

1996 - Chancellor David Scott asks the Chancellor's Counsel on Community, Diversity and Social Justice to create a diversity action plan.

1998 - The Chancellor's Counsel on Community, Diversity and Social Justice presents its diversity action plan, A New Approach to Promoting Community, Diversity and Social Justice, to help move the campus to a new level of attention and action regarding these issues.

2001 - Marcellette G. Williams becomes the first woman to serve as chancellor.

2003 - The Chancellor's Counsel on Community, Diversity and Social Justice completes campus-wide climate surveys of faculty, staff and graduate student employees.

2004 - Chancellor John V. Lombardi appoints a special Commission on Campus Diversity, chaired by the Dean of the Graduate School of Howard University.

2005 - Diversity and Inclusion at UMass Amherst: A Blueprint for Change is presented by the special Commission on Campus Diversity. The report presents 15 major recommendations for diversity. (For more details about the Commission on Campus Diversity and subsequent action plans presented by the University, visit this archived website.)

2005 - On Improving Campus Diversity: Action Plan is published as the campus' response to Blueprint for Change and as an action plan for moving important diversity issues forward.​ 

2006 - UMass Amherst: A Commitment to Inclusiveness and Diversity, a report to the Board of Trustees Committee of the Whole, is presented to document the progress made and status of reviews done regarding campus diversity.

2009 - The W.E.B. Du Bois Center is established "to engage the nation and the world in discussion and scholarship about the global issues involving race, labor and social justice."

2009 - Chancellor Robert C. Holub challenges the campus to recommit to diversity, equity and inclusion in Framework for Excellence: The Flagship Report, Spring 2009.

2010 - UMass creates the Chancellor's Diversity Advisory Board which creates the first version of the UMass Diversity Matters website and a UMass diversity mission statement.

2011 - The first Diversity Plan, a report created by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and the Chancellor's Diversity Advisory Board which compiles diversity activities and efforts and data from across campus, is published. It has been published annually since this date.

2013 - Professor Amilcar Shabazz is appointed the Chancellor's Faculty Advisor for Diversity and Excellence.

2014 - Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy appoints the Diversity Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

2015 - In March, the Diversity Strategic Planning Steering Committee presents the Campus Diversity Strategic Plan and in September we re-launch this Diversity Matters website where you can track our progress on improving and sustaining diversity at UMass.

2015 - UMass receives several honors for its work to create an inclusive campus including: Campus Pride namesUMass among the top 25 colleges and universities in the country for LGBTQ students (August); MilitaryFriendly.com recognizes UMass as a leader in recruiting and supporting veterans in their post-service education (November).

2016 - Professor Enobong (Anna) Branch is named the Chancellor's Faculty Advisor for Diversity and Excellence.

2016 - The Diversity Strategic Plan Steering Committee seeks comments on proposed revisions to the goals identified in the campus’ Diversity Strategic Plan.

2016 - UMass conducts its Campus Climate Survey, a web-based questionnaire that asks students, staff, and faculty about inclusiveness of the campus community. The survey, announced by Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamyand created in support of the university’s Diversity Strategic Plan, elicits an "outstanding" response and demonstrates "that all of us here at the Commonwealth’s flagship campus care about the well-being of all members of our community," says Enobong (Anna) Branch, faculty advisor to the chancellor for diversity and inclusive excellence.

2017 - Campus Climate Survey results show favorable perceptions, as well as areas for improvement. The survey data collected will guide the university’s ongoing process for diversity strategic planning in specific and tangible ways, including campus policies, priorities and distribution of resources. 

2017 - Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy affirms the university's commitment to the welfare and success of all community members. Subbaswamy vows to protect the rights of immigrant and international students, including students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as trans students.

2017 - For the seventh consecutive year, UMass Amherst is recognized as one of the top 25 campuses in the country for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students by Campus Pride, a national LGBTQ+ youth support and advocacy organization.

2017 - The Office of Equity and Inclusion within the Chancellor's Office is established, with Enobong (Anna) Branch serving as the Associate Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

2017 - UMass launches week-long celebration of its international community, including a video that says, "You are welcome here."

2017 - Rae Gould is named the campus' first Tribal Liaison, providing the administration with an in-house advisor on Native American issues and an opportunity to develop stronger relationships with tribes in the region.

2017 - Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy joins Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of higher education leaders dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact students, campuses and communities.

2017 - The Graduate School establishes an Office of Inclusion and Engagement, which will develop a wide array of initiatives designed to help students amplify the impact of their research, prepare for leadership positions in their fields and broaden their career options. The office will also serve as the university’s first campus-wide resource specifically created to augment the recruitment, retention and success of outstanding graduate students from historically underrepresented populations.

2018 - Several organizational changes are made in order to ensure that UMass Amherst is a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus. These changes included a  system-wide initiative to more fully incorporate affirmative action planning in campus hiring and retention goals; expanding on disability support services for students, faculty and staff; and Human Resources assuming responsibility for overseeing all hiring activity ensuring compliance with laws governing EEO/AA, diversity, and equity. 

2018 - The final reports from Campus Climate Study are shared. In January 2018, unit reports are released, allowing individual executive areas, schools and colleges to examine where they may need to improve in order to better move the institution toward its aspirational campus climate of being respectful and inclusive for all. In April, the final reports are made available to the campus. These reports provide a deeper dive into the data and offer open-ended responses detailing the on-campus experiences of undergraduate studentsgraduate studentsfaculty and staff regarding how well the university is meeting its goals for inclusivity and equality.

2018 - As part of the Campus Climate Study, the Office of Equity and Inclusion awards more than $20,000 in funding for Campus Climate Improvement Grants, assembles a team of Campus Climate Ambassadors to engage the campus community and hosts more than 100 Campus Climate Conversations

2018 - Learning Community Book groups were launched, providing students, faculty, and staff opportunities to improve communication across differences and create positive relationships with others in the UMass community. In the first year, groups read “What if I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People” by Vernā Myers. In 2019 “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” by Brene Brown was added to the program. And in 2020 "How to be an Antiracist" by Ibram X Kendi was added. Around 600 campus members participated as of Fall 2020.

2019 - The Office of Equity and Inclusion and Human Resources partnered to form Employee Resource Groups, which launched in 2020. This initiative will provide UMass staff and faculty with resources for professional development, networking, and mentorship, while also promoting the recruitment, retention, and advancement of employees who are underrepresented in our community. 

2019 - Faculty of Color Programming was expanded to include dinners, workshops, writing groups, and retreats for faculty of color. Learn more about Faculty of Color programming.

2020 - The DEI Student Council was formed. This council is co-chaired by the Senior Director of DEI and the Assistant Chancellor of Advocacy, Inclusion and Support Programs. This group will meet with student DEI representatives to discuss and advance the most pressing student DEI issues. 

2020 - The Dignity and Respect in Action Podcast was launched, featuring members in the UMass and local community who work in the fields of equity and inclusion.