The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Announces Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan Update for Fall 2021

Thursday, December 9, 2021

We write to share with you the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda the Dean’s Leadership Team and the SBS DEI Coordinating Committee are working on throughout this academic year. As a college within a predominantly white university, we are committed to the urgent work of creating an inclusive, welcoming, just, and equitable learning and working environment for all of our students, staff, and faculty. 

We realize that many departments, programs, centers, and other units within the college are pursuing their own important DEI initiatives. Thank you for making DEI central to your mission. Thank you, as well, to the many students, staff, and faculty who have committed their learning, teaching, research, advising, and co-curricular work to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We have a lot of work to do, and we welcome your help and best ideas.

Action Item 1: Establish an organizational structure within SBS that is dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  1. Added newly hired Academic Fellows Program (AFP) Director, Dr. Felicia Griffin-Fennell, to the SBS DEI Coordinating Committee.

  2. Support the Academic Fellows Program (AFP), which provides specialized support, programming, and opportunities for SBS undergraduate students who identify as first-generation or BIPOC and/or come from low-income backgrounds and families through a year of program development. With over 40% of the SBS undergraduate student population from historically minoritized populations, it is vital that the Academic Fellows Program expands its reach and impact within the undergraduate student body. With its new director, the program is in a year of programmatic building and evaluation. AFP intends to create leadership opportunities for more senior students; develop engagement models for students in their first and second years; and embark on reconsiderations of the program's name to become more reflective and encompassing of the collective population it serves.

  3. Fund 10 Diversity Fellows internships for 2021-22. Diversity Fellows are AFP peer leaders selected to work together, under the supervision of the AFP Director, to develop programming, resources, and opportunities to build community among AFP students. Diversity Fellows receive academic credit and a stipend while working on their own professional development. 

  4. Establish regular college-level gatherings of department/program DEI chairs to coordinate DEI initiatives and share DEI knowledge across SBS, including DEI Curriculum & Classroom Climate Development Guide and resources, faculty/staff searches and retention, department/program level initiatives, and more. Invite these chairs to attend one SBS DEI Coordinating Committee meeting at the beginning of each semester.

  5. Invite faculty, staff, and affiliates to attend DEI Coordinating Committee meetings to share expertise on relevant programs, topics, and issues.

Action Item 2: Incorporate anti-racist pedagogy and content throughout the SBS curriculum

  1. Recruit SBS departments/programs to pilot the DEI Curriculum & Classroom Climate Development Guide through a faculty-led process in spring 2022. The DEI Coordinating Committee will further develop the guide/process with pilot feedback.

  2. Share DEI Curriculum & Classroom Climate Development Guide and resources with all SBS faculty, academic advisers, and graduate student instructors. 

  3. Offer a voluntary college-level DEI Curriculum & Classroom Climate workshop for interested faculty and graduate student instructors and invite relevant campus partners to participate (i.e., Center for Teaching & Learning and Workplace Learning & Development).

  4. Encourage additional departments/programs to engage the DEI Curriculum & Classroom Climate Development Guide in spring 2022.

  5. Promote DEI pedagogy workshops and resources offered in SBS, across UMass, and externally through SBS communication channels.

Action Item 3: Actively recruit, retain, and promote a diverse faculty, staff, and student body within the college

  1. Guide faculty searches in following DEI best practices, including the following:

    • Consult with faculty search committees to write job advertisements that adhere to rigorous and inclusive recruitment standards and to place job ads in venues that attract diverse applicants.

    • Organize Search Charge meetings with recruitment committees that impart the Dean’s philosophy and vision for inclusive faculty searches.  

    • Provide search committee chairpersons with hard copies of the Dean’s Search Charge document.

    • In consultation with the DEI Coordinating Committee, update the Dean’s Search Charge document each academic year.

    • Provide DEI-specific oversight throughout the search process, including making sure all search members attend required ADVANCE training sessions and requesting all applicants to submit a diversity statement.

    • Take part in recruitment interviews with faculty search finalists.

    • Require detailed mentoring plans to accompany requests for Assistant Professor lines.

    • Require mentoring teams for new Assistant Professors.

  2. Continue to develop and institute DEI best practices in staff hiring, including anti-bias training sessions for staff searches.

  3. In consultation with the SBS Dean, Provost’s Office, and MSP, develop new guidance, resources, and practices for expanding the evaluation of teaching quality beyond SRTI/student evaluation metrics. Currently, the main measure of teaching quality is SRTI/student evaluation metrics, which research shows are biased against faculty of color and women faculty. 

  4. Promote STRIDE implicit bias training attendance for tenure track and lecturer college personnel committees and department personnel committee members for equitable review processes in faculty promotion cases and annual faculty reviews. 

  5. Promote UMass ADVANCE trainings, workshops, mutual mentoring teams, and resources that aim to build equity, inclusion, and success for all faculty members, regardless of gender, race-ethnicity, or sexuality.

Action Item 4: Cultivate a college and campus climate that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion

  1. Hosted Dr. Micere Keels, author of "Campus Counterspaces: Black and Latinx Students' Search for Community at Historically White Universities" and faculty member at the University of Chicago, for a public talk on November 9.  

  2. Invited all SBS community members, including alumni, to participate in book group discussions of Campus Counterspaces and to attend Dr. Keels’ public talk. Created book group prompts and discussion ground rules and shared with all book groups we organized. Organized the recording of a podcast between Dr. Keels and the Office of Equity & Inclusion.

  3. Host social gatherings for faculty and staff of color.

  4. Provide opportunities for students who identify as BIPOC, first-generation, and/or coming from low-income families to build community, access resources and opportunities, and communicate their needs and concerns to administrators and others. Increase AFP’s profile and presence among SBS faculty and staff, and expand faculty and staff engagement with AFP. Increase campus awareness of AFP and its purpose. 

  5. Provide support for regular SBS BIPOC graduate student gatherings/counterspaces with clear separation from administrative oversight. Coordinate with seniors in the Academic Fellows Program to support BIPOC students interested in attending graduate school.

  6. Provide support for regular gatherings/counterspaces with clear separation from administrative oversight for SBS undergraduate students who identify as first-generation, BIPOC, and/or coming from low-income families, with leadership provided by Diversity Fellows in the Academic Fellows Program, to discuss and organize against societal ills, including, but not limited to, hateful acts of racism on campus.

  7. Hold DEI listening sessions/town halls, tailored and with discussion guidelines, perhaps organized by role (i.e, undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, faculty), across the academic year with the goal of better understanding on-the-ground experiences and concerns to guide DEI work in SBS.

  8. Work with relevant units on campus (i.e., Office of Equity & Inclusion, ADVANCE, and the Center for Teaching & Learning) to develop DEI climate resources to help departments/programs build diverse, equitable, and inclusive climates.

  9. Gather information from SBS departments and programs about their DEI practices, including successes, initiatives, and challenges. Ask “Where do you need help?” so the DEI Coordinating Committee can help develop resources.

  10. Host a 2021-22 film series on the enduring problems of exclusion and oppression on college campuses, such as racism and sexual violence, to be followed by a discussion with experts, trained facilitators, and counselors, and sharing with campus and external resources provided.

  11. Encourage all SBS community members through SBS communication channels to participate in the Office of Equity & Inclusion’s 2021-22 Climate Study.

  12. Incorporate a standard review of departmental climate as part of the SBS AQAD reviews, requesting external reviewers to assess: “How is the department engaging with diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice issues in terms of curriculum and classroom climate, faculty and staff hiring, retention, support, equitable workload, and departmental climate for all?”