Creating Change Together: Campus EDI Update

Monday, January 31st, 2022

Dear UNI Community,

When the President’s Council for Inclusion, Transformative Social Justice, and Advocacy (CITSJA) was formed in 2019, Council members were given an important charge: To advise UNI leadership and the broader campus community on areas of strength and opportunities for improvement as we build and enhance an equitable, diverse, and inclusive university community. With advisory responsibility to the President’s Office, CITSJA facilitated a year-long information gathering effort to discern recommendations for action that help UNI continue making systemic change on campus. 

CITSJA is composed of faculty, staff, students, and a member of the Cedar Valley community. Together, members of the Council gathered data and met with university leadership and many campus stakeholders to assess current policies and practices in several key areas: University Budgeting, Campus Climate, Faculty and Staff, and Curriculum. CITSJA’s information gathering produced recommendations for action on each of these areas. The final report can be found on the CITSJA webpage.

Today, we are pleased to announce important actions we are taking as a university community based on the annual report recommendations. 

  • Launch Action-Focused Climate Assessment: The CITSJA noted the need to create processes for data-informed actions that derive from the routine collection of campus climate assessment data. Similar to the periodic external review of academic department reviews to assess strengths, challenges, and needs, we will be hosting Rankin & Associates—an external consulting firm specializing in action-focused climate assessments—to assist UNI in a climate assessment. The University has formed a climate assessment team to facilitate campus engagement in the climate assessment process, guide the development of recommended actions for the UNI community, and advise university leadership on the implementation of the results. More information about the campus engagement process will be coming soon. Members of the committee include:
    • Janel Alleyne, Assistant Dean of Students and Co-Chair, CITSJA
    • Brenda Bass, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
    • Gwenne Berry, Chief Diversity Officer
    • Cara Burnidge, Associate Professor, CITSJA Member, and co-chair Faculty Senate DEI Committee
    • Michelle Byers, Assistant Vice President and Director of Human Resource Services
    • Fernando Calderon, Associate Professor, CITSJA Member, and co-chair of Faculty Senate DEI Committee
    • Drew Conrad, Director of UNI Institute for Decision Making and Co-Chair of UNI Strategic Planning Committee
    • Leah Gutknecht, Assistant to the President, Office of Compliance and Equity Management
    • Shelly Hill, Clerk IV and President of AFSCME
    • Farah Kashef, Instructional Technologist and P&S Council President
    • Chiquita Loveless, Interim Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
    • Doug Mupasiri, Department Head of Mathematics and Co-Chair, CITSJA
    • Abigail Saathoff, Communications, Public Relations, and Journalism Major
    • Shefei Schultz, Computer Science Major
    • Kristin Moser, Assistant to the President and Director, Institutional Effectiveness and Planning
    • Andrew Morse, Chief of Staff
  • Share EDI educational resources: Later this spring, the CITSJA will be releasing educational resources to support conversations in educational and voluntary settings. 
  • Assess the landscape of EDI resources and champions on campus: To achieve systematic campus-wide change requires university leadership and the broader community to know the full landscape of EDI work already taking place on campus, including the identification of gaps or areas that require our attention and leadership. As a result, we will be launching a survey of faculty, staff, and university departmental leaders to gather formal and informal EDI initiatives on campus to establish a baseline of existing work. This work will help guide further planning in our campus’ EDI efforts.
  • Establish EDI standards and practices: Based on the action-focused climate assessment, landscape assessment on EDI work, and other key initiatives, UNI will be developing a set of expectations for practice as it relates to promoting and nurturing an equitable, diverse, and inclusive living, learning, and working environment.
  • Enhance professional development opportunities: The results of the assessment, landscape analysis, and development of EDI standards will also inform intentional, routine, and strategic professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, including those with supervisory responsibilities within their areas.
  • Embed EDI throughout university strategic planning: As UNI develops our 2023-28 strategic plan, the UNI Strategic Planning Committee will also review the report recommendations together to identify strategies and tactics that can be embedded in the next plan.
  • Follow up on previous actions:  When the formation and call for nominations to the President’s Council for Inclusion, Transformative Social Justice, and Advocacy was launched, we also announced a set of 12 short- and long-term actions to improve campus climate. To assure the institutionalization and sustainability of those actions, the President’s Office is also assessing the status of steps already taken to support systematic change on campus. 

Special thanks to the CITSJA members below for their leadership and contributions to the UNI community:

  • Janel Alleyne, Assistant Dean of Students (CITSJA Co-Chair)
  • Doug Mupasiri, Head, Mathematics (CITSJA Co-Chair)
  • Cara Burnidge, Philosophy and World Religions
  • Fernando Calderon, History
  • Belinda Creighton-Smith, Social Work
  • David Hernandez-Saca, Special Education
  • Paula VanZee, Study Abroad Center
  • Cindy Bancroft, Rod Library
  • Carol Carey, Rod Library
  • Leila Masinovic, NISG Director of Diversity
  • Hallie Speed, Sociology Major

We are becoming an even stronger campus community because of the Council’s work and the work we will continue to do together on our journey for equity, diversity, and inclusion. We will continue to share updates and opportunities to engage. Thank you for being part of growing an equitable, diverse, and inclusive university community where every member is empowered to reach their academic, professional, and personal life goals. 

Panther Proud!
Mark A. Nook
Janel Alleyne
Assistant Dean of Students
Co-Chair, CITSJA
Doug Mupasiri
Head, Mathematics
Co-Chair, CITSJ