A New Approach to Promoting Community, Diversity and Social Justice:
Late in 1995, Chancellor David Scott requested the formation of a new Counsel on Community, Diversity and Social Justice. In the fall of 1996 he charged the Counsel with providing an Action Plan to address community, diversity and social justice dimensions of Strategic Action. The Counsel's committee to develop this plan has been hard at work ever since and this report is the result. It proposes that diversity and social justice may no longer be understood as somewhat marginal aspects of community life at UMass Amherst, but as integral to a proper understanding of its mission in a global age. It then proposes that these concerns become a central part of planning and budgeting for every department and unit of the campus, and suggests a methodology for achieving that end.
In the span of the past few decades, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has climbed into a prominent position among universities throughout the world. It continues to pursue its historic mission as a public land-grant research, teaching and outreach institution focused on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, constantly expanding its initiatives in fulfillment of that original mission. But, as the nature and functions of higher education have grown and changed over time, UMass Amherst has broadened its scope, mission and programs. Over the past six decades it has participated in the emergence of mass higher education, extending its outreach and greatly broadening its own diversity. As with other major land-grant universities, it no longer focuses exclusively on its home commonwealth but is involved in research, teaching and outreach that vitally impacts the nation and the world. It has become a world-class university with projects and connections around the globe and involvements in exploring space.
At its core, the University continues to be, as it has always been, a community of inquiry and dissemination of knowledge. It pursues a mission of critical examination of present structures and assumptions of human and natural systems as well as of proposed paradigms and processes. It then accepts a responsibility to pass its best understandings on to others. It is part of our nature and our greatness as an academic institution to question, examine, dissent, debate and propose, striving ever more fully to be a competent community of those who acquire and disseminate knowledge.
We now pursue this historic mission, however, in a broader setting. We need to understand and serve ever more diverse and inclusive interests, responsibilities and constituencies. We need to comprehend the perspectives that mark them, the ways in which they interact, the environments in which they thrive, and their respective influences on the ways we perceive, learn and communicate with persons everywhere. The members of our community -- faculty, students, administrators, staff -- increasingly will live and work around the globe and beyond, so their knowledge of diversity and their resultant intercultural competence become a critical set of intellectual, social and cultural skills. Business, governmental, societal and intellectual constituencies of the University expect and deserve such an inclusive mentality throughout the University's research, publication, learning, teaching, consultation and outreach. Faculty, staff, students, their families, eventual employers, home communities and other constituencies whom the University serves all reflect increasing social, cultural and intellectual diversity. Given this larger context for its mission of inquiry and knowledge dissemination, the goal of full inclusiveness can no longer be marginal to the University's existence and modes of operation. Our full inclusion of human and cultural diversity serves our achievement of true excellence.
Chancellor David Scott remarked to a May 1997 meeting of the Faculty Senate that the University must be "prepared to live and work in an interconnected global world." The campus' primary planning document, Strategic Action: Towards a Commonwealth of Learning, articulates this vision statement:
In a later section of Strategic Action, Chancellor Scott outlines strategic principles meant to guide change on the campus:
Based on these principles, Chancellor Scott outlines in Strategic Action several Major Initiatives, areas of major investment and change for the campus. Two of these, Creation of Community and Diversity and Multiculturalism, led to an invitation in 1995 from the Chancellor to the Commission on Civility in Human Relations and the Multicultural Advisory Board to merge their efforts and refocus their efforts. A new group, which came to be called the Chancellor's Counsel on Community, Diversity and Social Justice, began meeting in June 1996.
In October 1996 the Chancellor charged the new body with providing him with a multi-step "Action Plan" (as it was then called) around these concerns. The committee of the Counsel given this assignment began meeting in December 1996. It has met some 60 times over the past two years. As the committee's thinking evolved, its members came to understand that our task was not concerned with some marginal issue of campus culture or legal or moral mandates, but with a fresh understanding of the University's central mission in a global setting, as described in the opening paragraphs above. Consequently, the proposal presented in this report is not limited solely to the two Major Initiatives of Strategic Action identified above, but clearly applies to the ways in which we approach new possibilities in all dimensions of our self-examination and change.
In addition, committee members came to the realization that simply producing an "Action Plan" for the Chancellor detailing a number of specific initiatives would be insufficient, because this top-down approach to implementing change had itself become increasingly ineffective. Accordingly, this report downplays specific action steps regarding community, diversity and social justice and emphasizes instead the need to rework our underlying process for bringing about change as the first important step.
As we began to define the terms which are included in the Counsel's name -- community, diversity and social justice -- we attempted definitions which would be serviceable in envisioning a fresh understanding of UMass Amherst's mission in a global and future setting:
For more information about the Counsel's purpose and charge, see Appendix A to this report.
For specifics of the long list of campus groups and individuals who provided information and/or were invited to critique earlier drafts and presentations of this report, see Appendix B. A summary of the process by which this report was developed is provided in Appendix C.
Reviewing Past Practices
During the January 1997 intersession the Counsel held an organizing retreat. One primary activity was to initiate a review of the history of the Amherst campus' efforts to address issues of community, diversity and social justice. This review of the past four decades, augmented in conversations with various campus bodies since then, revealed both strengths and weaknesses.
These decades featured accomplishments of which the campus can be proud. In response to emergent issues and incidents regarding race, gender and other social justice issues, the campus developed innovative protocols for responding to incidents, an array of campus-wide education and training programs, and a nationally-known longitudinal research program for monitoring campus climate based on periodic surveys of undergraduates. The campus also pioneered in developing support programs for students of color, women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans- gender students, creating high-level advisory groups around issues of civility and diversity, and providing funding in annual competitions to encourage collaborative efforts in developing innovative programs in these areas. The Fine Arts Center pioneered in bringing diverse cultural and international programs to campus. Residential education courses addressing these concerns were developed early on and were widely imitated by other campuses. The two-course Social and Cultural Diversity Requirement was implemented in 1986, long before the idea had been discussed on many other campuses. Various academic departments have made many other curricular and pedagogical changes. While no campus-wide assessment of these and other curricular innovations has been done to our knowledge, it is clear that many faculty, department chairs and heads, deans, the library staff, and other academic officers were hard at work regarding these issues. Many of these accomplishments have served as exemplary models for similar efforts at other universities and have even reframed the ways of understanding this set of issues at a national level. All of the persons and groups who have labored over the years to provide these new responses and initiatives deserve our appreciation.
Over time, however, some of the institutionalized patterns which the University developed have grown increasingly less effective as modes of producing significant system change and have even become problematic. The major conclusion of the Counsel's retreat, which other groups consulted since then have confirmed with some modification, was that the University's approach needs now to evolve beyond the patterns identified below to a new level of proactive, systemic planning and action:
The shortcomings enumerated in items 1 through 6 above do not describe all that has occurred on our campus in the past four tumultuous decades. In many places and at many points, other efforts have been launched that were not dependent on a reactive stance to incidents or events. Some of those efforts have been described above as positive outcomes of our recent history. We still find these six problematic factors significant enough in our history to describe them, and to find ways to move beyond them into more systemic approaches. As we move ahead, we will be able to build on the many initiatives already put in place, and for that we may all be grateful.
Motivations for a New Approach
As we have analyzed the six older patterns of institutionalized response listed above, we have become aware that they rely heavily on moral, ethical and legal arguments for achieving a more diverse and socially just community of learning. These arguments fail to be as persuasive as they might be because they are not linked to some very practical grounds for change, nor are they linked to an enlarged sense of the University's mission in a global age.
For example, full compliance of the University with federal and state civil rights laws(2) is an essential minimal requirement expected of ourselves and by off-campus constituencies. It is also a serious economic issue, since we currently devote significant amounts of human and financial resources in responding to grievances, investigations, settlements and litigation in these areas. Other costs of non- compliance include increased turnover rates and costs related to recruiting and training new personnel, reduced productivity due to low morale and resulting absenteeism, lowered efficiency and time wasted by personnel in establishing their credibility rather than accomplishing real work, and the costs of a negative public image with various constituencies and communities. Only when we calculate, collect and publish data on all these costs of non-compliance by different University units, as do various large corporations, will we realize how substantial these costs are. Without such information, there is no way to identify the most troublesome patterns and to develop new approaches for assuring effective compliance. Such data calculation, collection and publication are essential to reducing costs and improving efficiencies of operation as envisioned in the Striving for Excellence program and similar campus process improvement initiatives.
Just as significant costs are associated with non-compliance, substantial benefits derive from compliance. Since faculty do their multi-faceted professional work in international and diverse contexts, and since students know they will be working and living in an increasingly global and diverse workplace, then they, students' parents, their potential employers, and the general public all benefit from what we have come to call intercultural competence. We understand such competence to include the awareness, understanding and skills required to work, live, communicate and lead effectively in socially and culturally diverse environments.
Such competence will be a major aspect of this campus' competitive advantage vis-a-vis other colleges and universities. As one recent report on the status of women remarked, "Providing a supportive climate for women should be viewed as a competitive advantage rather than as a means of avoiding possible litigation." The same may be said regarding persons of color, persons with disabilities, persons with different religious backgrounds, persons of different language or nationality backgrounds, and others. Intercultural competence of all the University's members is a key component in the ability of our campus to recruit and retain quality faculty, students, staff and administrators. It also can be a primary factor in securing legislative funding, capital gifts and foundation and government grants. All of the financial costs listed above in relation to compliance issues are also economic reasons.
But legal compliance alone is an inadequate goal. Only if issues of compliance are linked clearly to our mission, to the direction in which we want to move, will there be motivation to do the job thoroughly and comprehensively, not grudgingly and legalistically.
Ethical, legal, cultural and economic motivations for diversity and inclusiveness gain force when they are brought together within a comprehensive understanding of the University's mission in the present and future. As our campus models community, diversity, social justice and intercultural competence, we express our understanding that these qualities are central to our achievement of true excellence.
SECTION II - A NEW APPROACH
With all this in mind, the Counsel's conclusion is that the campus needs to alter fundamentally the way in which it makes change regarding community, diversity and social justice.(3) With the initiation of Strategic Action, Chancellor Scott introduced a campus-wide unit-based(4) planning and budgeting approach to University management. We propose expanding this approach to incorporate issues of community, diversity and social justice. We therefore recommend:
In this fundamental shift of operating style from crisis-driven, top-down, short- term, and special offices orientation to proactive, longer-term, mission-related management by every department or administrative unit, the key operational proposal we make is to have each department or administrative unit develop its plans and budgetary requirements in light of how that department or administrative unit will assist the University to carry out its mission which now directly incorporates issues of community, diversity and social justice.
We do not expect that task to be an easy one for any department or unit, or for the University as a whole. We know the kind of effort it has taken for us to envision a new approach and what it may require. But we do not believe that any other method of achieving desired changes will be adequate to the needs of the University as it moves ahead.
In order to implement this plan, a campus-wide Community, Diversity and Social Justice (CDSJ) Team would be established to provide leadership, coordination and overall guidance for this process. We further propose the creation of additional teams in each executive area which would assist with the implementation of the plan and with unit planning, budgeting and monitoring the process. Ideally, the CDSJ Team would have representation from each executive area, including the Chancellor's area. The CDSJ Team would serve as a resource for the executive area teams, thereby improving consistency and connectedness to the overall campus process. While such teams may not be needed indefinitely, they will be very important initially and in the foreseeable future in order to achieve and maintain momentum.
Step One - Develop a campus-wide Community, Diversity and Social Justice Team
The first step would be to establish a campus-wide CDSJ Team of about a dozen persons, drawn from each executive area in the UMass Amherst organizational structure. They would:
A process will be initiated whereby each Vice Chancellor will nominate 3-5 individuals from his/her executive area to serve on the CDSJ Team. The Chancellor, in consultation with members of this report's drafting committee, will make the final selection.
Members of the CDSJ Team would take up the task of helping each executive area of the University to enhance its own unit planning process and of serving as a central group to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the campus-wide effort and allocate resources within it. These responsibilities would become a part of their assigned responsibility for up to two years, perhaps a 10-15% responsibility. They would be evaluated and rewarded on the basis of demonstrated performance at this task, as in other tasks they perform. They would receive initial training and be given adequate time to build a team approach toward their task.
Timeline: Recruitment of the CDSJ Team would be accomplished by summer 1998, and initial training would be accomplished by mid-fall semester 1998.
Step Two - Institutional Assessment, Benchmarking and an Initial Plan
CDSJ Team members would work with the appropriate administrators, offices and committees to:
The Counsel's own initial efforts to gather information from a wide array of campus sources have resulted in a long list of issues related to diversity and inclusion. Both the CDSJ Team and the other teams in individual executive areas, will utilize this critical information to guide their assessment of current practices.
Timeline: This overall assessment, benchmarking and general plan would be accomplished by the end of spring semester 1999.
Step Three - Recruiting and Preparing Teams in Each Executive Area
The CDSJ Team members would work with vice chancellors, other administrators and key personnel to identify and appoint teams in each executive area of the University simultaneously to allow for joint preparation of all the groups during one time period. It would be possible to form the executive area team by using part or all of an executive area's existing management structure to which key missing constituents would be added.
Timeline: Recruitment for teams in each executive area would be accomplished during the end of fall semester 1998 and training for these groups would be completed by January 1999.
Step Four - Extending the Process to Each Executive Area
The various executive area teams, assisted by the campus-wide CDSJ Team where appropriate, would work with administrators, appropriate committees and other key personnel in each executive area to do assessments, benchmarking and developing of their own planning and budgeting for diversity and inclusion issues as related to their own responsibilities for carrying out the University's overall mission. Beginning with the entire executive area in each case, plans would be developed to work down two or three levels so that each major department or administrative unit in the University would have performed an assessment and developed specific change plans.
It would be expected that, as this effort moves from an overall University level down to executive areas and then further down to other departments or administrative units, conversation and information would begin to flow up, down and across the University. Planning and budgeting groups at any level may find their initial insights, assessments and plans need many kinds of revisions. The plans and budgets proposed in one executive area may not look much like those developed in another. Unit plans may vary widely. The diversity of the Amherst campus will find expression in these plans and budgets. We may all expect to learn much, and to find that the quality of our perceptions, insights and strategies improve over time. The great value of this process is that throughout the University community, the great wealth of intellect and wisdom that is available here will be assembled in pursuit of greater understanding of our diversity and our need for community and social justice, and we will grow in our ability to move toward the future we envision. All of this will mean that less responsibility will fall on the Chancellor's office for planning and implementation, as other levels of the University assume responsibility and ownership of their own planning and budgeting. The resulting changes in what we look like, and how we behave, will be beyond our imagining now, because we will be creating them as we go.
Timeline: Assessment and planning at the level of each executive area would commence at the beginning of spring semester 1999.
Step Five - Completing the Initial Cycle in Each Executive Area
Teams in each executive area would work with the campus wide CDSJ Team, and with all appropriate administrators, committees and key personnel, until the planning and budgeting process has been completed for an initial round with each major department or administrative unit in each executive area. By the end of this step, each major department or administrative unit would have a specific change plan and supporting budget based on a local assessment and a time frame for accomplishing the specified changes.
Throughout the years 1998-2001, at every level of the University, there would need to be regular monitoring of progress on achieving specified goals for diversity and inclusivity, in relation to the University's overall mission. Problems that appear as the process moves along would be noted. Corrective changes in planning could take place. Next steps would become apparent and recorded for further planning.
During 1999-2000 especially, there should be a systematic evaluation of the process since its inception in the fall of 1997. Next steps would be able to be incorporated into revised plans for the next cycle of activity.
Timeline: The evaluation of the first round of this new process would be accomplishable by the end of spring semester 2000.
Leadership and Management
Throughout Steps One, Two and Three, and beyond, significant actions need to be taking place to create an atmosphere of approval and support which will permit these initial planning steps to move the University forward:
To create change in attitudes and practices will require significant effort. Change cannot occur so long as it is confined to an isolated team, committee or group of administrators. As a matter of fact, successful change will rest, in part, on the extent to which the entire system moves more fully towards long term planning, and increased responsibility and accountability more generally, not just in relation to issues of community, diversity and social justice. It will occur as there is public discourse on the importance and practicality of eliminating exclusion and embracing inclusiveness and diversity, both in attitude and practice. None of us fully sees the future state of community, diversity and social justice toward which we move, and all of us will find personal and institutional progress fluctuating and uneven. But planning and budgeting for long-term changes, expressed in terms that relate to the University's central mission, can lead us beyond recurrent crises, ad-hoc programs, disregarded recommendations, and marginalized special offices for targeted populations to a new environment which includes us all, consistent with the purposes which create and sustain us as an educational institution.
The Transition to a New Approach
As this new approach to the full inclusion of community, diversity and social justice issues evolves on our campus over the next few years, we will often find ourselves caught between a still-taking-shape new approach and many pressing campus issues and projects for which we have not yet fully developed a new methodology. We recommend moving through this transition time with a consciousness that new, unfamiliar, more decentralized and not fully formed approaches are mixing with older, familiar, more centralized approaches. Our leadership, and all of us, will need to make conscious reminders that we are in-between, and need balance, tolerance and good humor to move forward.
We thank Chancellor Scott, the members of the Chancellor's Executive Advisory Council (CEAC), and the many individuals and groups which have provided us with thoughtful input on the issues faced by our campus, and feedback on earlier drafts of our proposals. Together, we are already expressing that new community toward which we all desire to move.
1. Members of the Chancellor's Council during 1997 and 1998 when this report was developed include the following: Bonnie Strickland, Carol Wallace and Salwa Shamapande, Counsel Co-chairs; Nelson Acosta, Robert Antil, Joyce Berkman, Sarah Boy, Horace Boyer, Barbara Burn, Keith Carver, Rev. Christopher Carlisle, James L. Craig, Judy Davis, Ranjanaa Devi, Martin Espada, Sally Freeman, Eleanor Gerome, Larry Goldbaum, Patricia Griffin, Albert Humphrey, Grant Ingle, Reverend John Ike, Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, Nigar Khan, Thomas Lindeman, John Luippold, Mzamo Mangaliso, Robert Marx, Juana Mendoza, Madeline Peters, Rosemary Riley, David Schimmel, Patricia Silver, Christopher Stamm, Eileen Stewart, Joseph Sullivan, Jose Tolson, M. Ricardo Townes, Linda Vincent, Joyce White Deer Vincent, Lia Wong, Felice Yeskel.
Members of the UMass Action Plan (UMAP) Committee who researched and wrote this report were: Thomas Lindeman, Committee Chair; Joyce Berkman, Patricia Crutchfield, Grant Ingle, Bailey Jackson, Linda Marchesani, Bonnie Strickland, Carol Wallace.
2. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, age, marital status, national origin, mental or physical disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation; in any aspect of the access to, admission, or treatment of students in its programs and activities, or in employment and application for employment. Furthermore, University policy includes prohibitions of harassment of students and employees, i.e., racial harassment, sexual harassment, and retaliation for filing complaints of discrimination. University of Massachusetts Amherst 1996-1997 Affirmative Action Plan, p. 2.
3. Dr. Bailey Jackson, Dean of the School of Education, has developed a model for effecting this kind of institutional change which he has utilized in large corporate settings. We have borrowed from and adapted that model to fit it to the University of Massachusetts Amherst context.
4. A unit-based approach holds unit heads directly accountable for outcomes, but also provides them with information, resources and support necessary for this increased responsibility. Units refer to administrative units of the campus such as those headed by deans, directors, department chairs/heads and other administrators. Within large divisions of the campus, it is common to have three or four levels of administrative units, with one level reporting to the next.