Chancellor shares UAA’s ongoing work on diversity, inclusion and equity

by Cathy Sandeen, UAA Chancellor  |   

Dear UAA Community,

In June, I sent a communication reaffirming UAA’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. With the fall 2020 semester underway, I want to provide you with an update regarding new and ongoing efforts to make UAA a more equitable institution.

Chief Diversity Officer. In May, I announced the hire of UAA’s new chief diversity officer (CDO), a cabinet-level position focused on providing guidance to our university community and implementation and review of equitable and socially just initiatives and policies. The CDO stewards the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), UAA’s roadmap to meet the diversity, equity and inclusion needs of our university community.

Diversity Action Council and the Office of Equity and Compliance. The Diversity Action Council oversees the DIAP and serves as a resource committee to me, advising and recommending courses of action that advance an inclusive and respectful campus environment. Similarly, the UAA Office of Equity and Compliance reports directly to me and works with the University of Alaska's chief diversity and compliance officer regarding compliance with nondiscrimination policies in accordance with federal and state laws.

Anti-racism and Difficult Dialogues. During the ’19-’20 academic year, the Center for Faculty Excellence (CAFE) offered Overcoming Implicit Bias sessions for faculty, staff, students and administrators. CAFE will continue its long-running work on the Difficult Dialogues initiative, designed to aid faculty and students in having conversations regarding issues such as race and ethnicity. Our chief diversity officer has also planned a seminar series on structural racism and anti-racist leadership for this fall. Look for more information in the coming weeks.

In addition, UAA hosts a chapter of the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), offering award-winning social inclusion and equity workshops, as well as listening circles for small groups of faculty, staff, administrators and students to engage in dialogue. Similar programs are also offered by the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee, Multicultural Student Services, Native Student Services, Student Life and Leadership, International Student Services, Residence Life and the academic colleges.

Cultural competence. Last April, the Faculty Senate approved the Diversity and Inclusion general education requirement (GER), implemented for all new students starting in fall ’20 . The university has also infused intercultural fluency into its core competencies for institutional accreditation.

Data and metrics. Institutional Research works with academic, student success and diversity leadership to execute surveys and data mine to gather an accurate picture of the university’s demographics and campus climate. This informs budgetary, staffing and programmatic decision-making and includes metrics for recruitment, retention and employment with the goal of increasing underrepresented populations.

UAA is committed to moving toward true equity. As chancellor, I will continue to ensure the conversations that move us in that direction take place. Fostering a culture of diversity, inclusivity and equity is one more way we can help maximize student success at UAA.

Cathy Sandeen
UAA Chancellor

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