UW–Madison is committed to creating an inclusive environment that enables all students, faculty, and staff to thrive. Individuals and groups from across campus have embraced this challenge and devoted significant time and energy to moving the campus forward. These efforts build on the campus Diversity Framework and its implementation plan, R.E.E.L. Change.
(Download a PDF version of this report: Campus Climate Progress Report – Spring 2021)
Return to campus climate updates and reports
Ongoing Campuswide Initiatives
Target of Opportunity Program: TOP began in 2018 as a component of the broader Faculty Diversity Initiative, which provides departments with increased financial support from the central administration to pursue and hire outstanding individuals who will enhance a department’s quality and diversity. To date, the Office of the Provost has approved 105 recruitment proposals from colleges and schools across campus and 32 faculty have been hired. We now have TOP hires across most of our schools and colleges and these faculty are doing outstanding work. Funding for this important program continues even with COVID-19 budget constraints.
Our Wisconsin Program Expansion: Our Wisconsin, an online education program that encourages students to contribute to an inclusive campus community and celebrate each other’s backgrounds and identities, was revamped as a fully virtual experience in fall 2020. Established in 2016, Our Wisconsin joined AlcoholEdu (alcohol awareness and prevention) and U Got This! (sexual assault and dating violence prevention) as a package of online education programs required for all first-year and transfer students. Student Affairs and its Our Wisconsin program team are engaging with schools, colleges and other campus units to provide our entire campus community with a shared inclusion education experience. In fall 2021, 8,150 students have completed the program.
Diversity Forum 2020: Diversity Forum 2020, hosted by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement, celebrated two firsts: the first virtual diversity forum and the first to host a call for proposals. More than 5,200 participants across Wisconsin and the nation signed into the annual UW–Madison Diversity Forum, “The Pandemic Effect: Exposing Racism and Inequities,” to learn, discuss, and share expertise and thoughts on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The call for proposals by the forum’s planning committee netted 49 presentations about ways to understand erupting social justice issues. Those selected guided an incredibly rewarding two days of virtual interaction, passionate discussions, networking on next steps, and sharing of potential solutions. The Diversity Forum featured a keynote address by renowned antiracist writer Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, and a riveting discussion between UW students of color and Austin Channing Brown, author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.
Mental Health Summit: The Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit, March 11–12, 2021, is a series of virtual workshops and activities for UW–Madison students to take a break and care for their mental and physical health. Students will choose one or more well-being activities that for their needs, whether it’s dropping in on a live yoga class, learning the ins and outs of better sleep, or picking up new skills to manage procrastination and stress. Keynote speaker Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed psychologist and host of the wildly popular mental health podcast, Therapy for Black Girls, will kick off the event Thursday, March 11, with valuable tips and insights to manage one’s mental health. This event is presented by UW–Madison Student Affairs, featuring University Health Services, University Recreation & Wellbeing, and the Center for Healthy Minds.
School, College, and Unit Initiatives
This report also documents our work towards a more diverse and inclusive UW–Madison and outlines accomplishments of schools and units in the areas of:
- Recruitment and Retention
- Identity and Inclusion
- Research and Professional Development
- Commitment to Campus Community
Recruitment and Retention
Division of Continuing Studies: Odyssey Beyond Bars teaches credit and noncredit UW–Madison courses to students incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons. The program was created to help address the problem of mass incarceration in Wisconsin by giving students in prison the academic and professional opportunities they need to succeed when they reenter communities. Studies show that people who complete college coursework while incarcerated are more likely to be self-sufficient upon reentry and less likely to return to prison. UW System President Tommy Thompson has enlisted the support of Odyssey Beyond Bars Director Peter Moreno in expanding the program to a statewide initiative focused on bringing education opportunities into Wisconsin’s prisons.
Federally, the latest stimulus bill contained a provision that restores Pell Grant-eligibility for students in prison. UW–Madison advocated for this new law, with Continuing Studies Dean Jef Russell and the university’s Government Relations team writing to Rep. Mark Pocan to express support. With this new activity at all levels, we hope that opportunities in prison education will increase and Continuing Studies will play a growing role in changing the lives of incarcerated people and their communities.
School of Law: UW Law, in coordination with Marquette University Law School, created the state’s first pre-law diversity conference to bring together underrepresented students and pre-law advisors from around the state and region. Now in its ninth year, the program connects this audience with admissions experts who highlight the importance of diversity in law schools and the legal profession, share important aspects of the admissions process, and simulate the classroom and current student experience. Attendance to the conference has increased dramatically, and we’re expecting our strongest attendance ever at this spring’s event.
School of Medicine and Public Health: The Building Equitable Access to Mentorship (BEAM) initiative matches faculty and first-year incoming MD students both from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine. The BEAM initiative is an academic year-long program designed to enhance the medical school experience for individuals of color and other marginalized identities. The primary goal of the program is to support talent development in these M1 students by building self-efficacy for degree completion and cultural navigation skills.
School of Veterinary Medicine: More than 90% of veterinarians in the United States are white, and veterinary medicine remains one of the least diverse professions in the country. Students who are Black, Indigenous, or from other underrepresented racial and ethnic groups represent one quarter of the school’s incoming class of 2024 (24 of 96 students). Nationally, the number of racially and/or ethnically underrepresented veterinary medicine students currently stands at about 20% of total enrollment — a figure that continues to rise. To recruit and ensure academic success for a diverse student body, the School of Veterinary Medicine established a chapter of the national program “How We Role” and began implementing this fun and engaging lesson plan with K–4 students at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County to help children learn about the breadth of careers in veterinary medicine. The school is also examining ways to revise its curriculum to ensure that students have the necessary skills to work with individuals from all backgrounds and experiences.
School of Business: The Business Emerging Leaders Program, a WSB signature program designed to recruit and retain students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, had a record number of applicants for its newest cohort; of the 139 applicants, 33 were admitted to the summer 2020 program (Cohort 5).
College of Engineering: To improve faculty diversity, all faculty recruitment committee members participate in training on equitable hiring. These efforts are working; from 2012 to 2019, the percentage of female faculty in the College of Engineering grew from 12% to 20%, and that is higher than the national average. Now the college is working to improve the recruitment of faculty members who are from other traditionally underrepresented groups. A series of programs, including an on-campus, annual professional development and recruitment event for senior engineering graduate students and postdocs interested in pursuing a faculty career; a named postdoctoral fellowship program tied to future faculty positions; and a flexible faculty hiring mechanism for appropriate applicants outside the current strategic hiring framework that focuses on technical subspecialties are being held.
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: The Equity and Diversity Committee developed best practices for recruiting faculty and administrators with a best hiring practices guidance document and checklist to improve equity and diversity outcomes in hiring, and to help educate those involved in hiring processes on resources and notable goals. These tools were endorsed and distributed to department chairs and administrators.
UW Libraries: The Diversity Resident Librarian Program was established in 2013 and provides entry-level librarians from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to develop skills and professional experience in academic librarianship. Designed to meet both the professional goals and interests of the resident as well as the service and operational priorities of the Libraries, the diversity resident librarian recently secured a $5,000 Innovation Grant from DDEEA to create an open educational resources anthology focused on the Black, Indigenous and students of color experience at the UW. This librarian also provides leadership to a Libraries team which offers guidance for faculty who want to include open educational resources in their courses, especially as they redesign courses for online or hybrid environments.
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies: The Nelson Institute continuously celebrates its diverse undergraduate and graduate student population through student profile stories, course highlights, faculty research and initiatives, and global opportunities, including the Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures Initiative to fund interdisciplinary, multi-year projects to advance antiracist practice in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEMM) fields. One of the goals of the Nelson Institute is retaining graduate students from diverse backgrounds. One strategy is offering more relevant programming to our EnviroGRS community such as our Storytelling for Scientists Workshop which translates research interests into compelling narratives, helping students develop techniques for conveying the story of their research work to peers, granting agencies, prospective employers, and the public.
Finance and Administration: This past year, all Finance and Administration divisions participated in the biennial 2020 Employee Engagement, Inclusion & Diversity (EID) Survey to inform our progress toward our shared goals of recruiting and retaining the most talented and diverse workforce, as well as creating and sustaining an inclusive and equitable workplace. In partnership with colleagues in the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement (DDEEA), the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration is conducting a deep-dive analysis of the survey data results to inform strategic planning and divisional support as it relates to employee engagement, equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts.
School of Education: The School of Education (SoE) is proud to announce that the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has started to grow significantly with the addition of multiple new staff members in the areas of student engagement, programming, and recruitment. In the last two cohorts of faculty hired in the School of Education, more than 50% have been faculty of color. Out of the 16 faculty hired in 2020, 10 are from historically underrepresented groups including disability, sexual and gender orientation, and race.
Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement: DDEEA coordinates Affinity Group Gatherings, meeting monthly, virtually providing informal social gatherings for faculty and staff. Affinity groups are a best practice in building capacity, increasing recruitment and retention of diverse faculty staff, and creating community providing employees with shared identities to build community with colleagues and share resources with one another.
Active affinity groups include:
- Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American (APIDA)
- Black/African American
- Native American
Identity and Inclusion
School of Medicine and Public Health: A comprehensive approach to increase underrepresented minorities in the school’s MD program has led to a 57% increase of underrepresented minority (URM) students matriculating to SMPH in three years (from 21% in 2018 to 33% in 2020). The SMPH chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) has created a local White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL) chapter. WC4BL is a national movement that aims to eliminate racial bias in the practice of medicine with the recognition that racism is a threat to the health and well-being of people of color. Together with their faculty advisors and others within our school and at UW Health, SNMA members organized a statewide rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol in the summer of 2020.
School of Nursing: The School of Nursing completed its Inclusive Excellence Plan and will pilot a faculty and staff DEI learning certificate program in fall 2021, focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care. In May 2020, the School of Nursing approved a comprehensive Inclusive Excellence Action Plan. Implementation of the plan is now underway, with multiple individuals from various divisions and across job classifications (as well as students) responsible for oversight and direction. The Success Through Recruitment/Retention, Engagement, Advocacy, and Mentorship (STREAM) program in the School of Nursing is designed to help Native American students attain their goal of becoming professional nurses. STREAM students receive peer support, mentorship, academic support, and financial support. The program is funded by an award from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) Program. Post docs were added to the program, creating a pathway to faculty position, and the number of Native students is also growing. The school will hold its second annual LGBTQ Health Summit on April 9.
School of Pharmacy: The School of Pharmacy has intentionally focused on meeting one of the school’s strategic plan goals of creating programs and developing an infrastructure to improve the climate for underrepresented faculty, staff, and students. In 2020, Rennebohm Hall at the School of Pharmacy became the first campus building to offer a multi-stall, gender-inclusive restroom. In fall 2020, the School of Pharmacy required its Doctor of Pharmacy students to participate in the Our Wisconsin program. It was important to offer our PharmD students this opportunity to learn about diversity within the student population and promote a culture of inclusion at the School of Pharmacy.
School of Business: At the recommendation of our newly formed Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, the school is fielding a climate survey to provide insight into how faculty, staff, and students are feeling about the climate at this time. The school is also in the process of exploring educational pathways for mandatory DEI training for Wisconsin School of Business faculty and staff, which will eventually require the completion of a certain number of hours, as well as integration into performance evaluations.
Graduate School: School staff joined an Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE)-wide book club in the fall of 2020 reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist. Participants engaged in three 90-minute small group discussions examining such issues as institutionalized racism, behavioral racism, colorism, intersectionality, and education reform. Graduate School staff also met in July 2020 to discuss the book and film Just Mercy, since the film had been made free to stream on multiple platforms during the month of June. Questions around justice, incarceration, and racial bias were examined.
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: CALS, in partnership with the departments of Life Sciences Communication and Nutritional Sciences, and Earth Partnerships, was awarded funding to conduct programming related to the Our Shared Future Heritage Initiative and was selected to host the marker during the spring 2020 semester. Programming included a colloquium hosted by the Department of Life Sciences Communication featuring Indian Country Today Editor Karen Lincoln Michel, and creation of a course within the Nutritional Sciences department. Planned activities delayed by COVID-19 include a community event on food sovereignty hosted at the Ho-Chunk Community Center.
College of Engineering: In 2020, the College of Engineering announced a $20 million pledge from The Grainger Foundation to establish Strategic Targeted Achievement Recognition (STAR) scholarships. This matching scholarship initiative will enable the college to attract the best and brightest undergraduate students from Wisconsin and the nation, with focused efforts on diversifying the student body. The college seeks to increase this STAR Scholarship initiative to $40 million in the next five years, resulting in a dramatic increase in the quantity and value of scholarships the college can annually award.
UW Libraries: Libraries have a long history of defending intellectual freedom and advocating for social justice. The Libraries’ Information Specialist Internship Program provides second- and third-year undergraduates an experiential learning opportunity to obtain knowledge and hands-on experience in the field of information and library services in areas such as collection management, information technology, public services, technical services, and special libraries. The most recent ISIP Coordinator became the newest Diversity Resident Librarian.
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies: The Nelson Institute has rewritten its policies and procedures to be more inclusive and reduce unnecessary barriers to participation. For example, previous policies prevented university staff members from joining committees. Now, any staff member, regardless of employment group, can join Nelson Institute committees.
Division of Extension: Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance worked with Extension leadership, faculty, and staff to create Extension’s Call to Action, a set of initiatives that reflects its strategic response and commitment to inclusivity and antiracism work. The Call to Action serves as a strategic framework engaging colleagues in efforts to make positive and measurable progress in several areas, including expanding understandings of the Land Grant System history in the U.S. and in Wisconsin; creating a learning community for inclusive organizational citizenship; creating a statewide antiracism and anti-bigotry resource library, and crafting an institutional position statement.
School of Education: At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the School of Education formed a committee to check in with students regarding their mental health and the impact of COVID-19 on their education. Many students reported that they incurred multiple additional expenses as a result of COVID-19, negatively impacting their time to degree completion. This resulted in the creation of the Bridge to Success Scholarship program, which provided financial assistance to School of Education students impacted by COVID-19. Two rounds of Bridge to Success scholarships (summer 2020 and fall 2020) awarded $2.38 million to aid students in their academic trajectories during this very difficult time.
Student Affairs: Student Affairs has partnered across the university to ensure that UW–Madison students, faculty, and instructional staff can now choose the pronouns they want associated with their online profiles through the widely used learning platform Canvas. The new option allows individuals to indicate how they would like to be referred to in class, in online discussions, and more.
Student Affairs also partnered on an extensive renovation project at the Red Gym, which has enhanced several student programming spaces and offices for some of the university’s key diversity initiatives, including the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, two student identity centers, the Posse program, Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives, and the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community.
The Wisconsin Union Theater in Student Affairs established the André De Shields Fund, a new fund for the purpose of subsidizing, underwriting, or otherwise supporting UW–Madison Black and Brown students, alumni, and/or artists and artistic projects and performances created, performed, designed, or produced by or for BIPOC.
Division of Information Technology: In 2020, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) kicked off campuswide efforts to use more inclusive, respectful language in our work via a collaborative “UW IT Talks Technical” project. For years, the cybersecurity community has labeled functions or identified different teams by colors—with examples including “whitelists” for good websites and “blacklists” for bad sites, users, and IP addresses. Generational backup strategies we used to call “grandfather, father, and son” also are no longer appropriate. Where communication used to occur with colors, offensive terms, and jargon or shorthand to convey technical terms, UW IT has committed to using more accurate and less offensive terms. The UW IT Talks Technical initiative, is working to develop new terms that are more accurate and less confusing, dated, and offensive.
Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement: Employee Disability Resources (EDR) aims to advance equal employment opportunities for faculty and staff with disabilities at UW–Madison. The office trains and coordinates Divisional Disability Representatives across campus to serve as lead contacts for all accommodation requests and office offers essential information, consultation, education and referral services for UW employees. As the campus has seen a dramatic increase in accommodation requests due to COVID-19 in the last year, EDR recently launched UW’s first “Return to Work” program to help when employees have temporary medical restrictions from medical conditions. The EDR office has led weekly trainings with the Divisional Disability Representatives (DDR) throughout the pandemic to share new processes and resources so DDRs can meet the needs of our employees.
Research and Professional Development
Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine and Public Health, and Veterinary Medicine: The Health Sciences Equity and Diversity Lunch and Learn series (PDF) is a collaboration between the schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, and Medicine and Public Health. This series offers a yearly total of six hours of free continuing education units for members of the health sciences community, the greater campus community, and practicing healthcare providers. Each event averages an attendance of 110–140 participants.
School of Veterinary Medicine: The School of Veterinary Medicine has redoubled its efforts to ensure that all marginalized communities feel a sense of belonging and inclusion within the school and hired the new position of director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. For the first time in the school’s history, key questions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) were incorporated into the biannual SVM climate survey distributed in the fall — data that will provide important benchmarks on where the school stands and needs to improve. As of July 1, all SVM faculty and staff are required annually to participate in an experience that enhances their understanding of DEI and antiracism, and document and discuss this experience during their performance review. In this aim, the school has provided funds for any interested faculty, staff or student to complete the Purdue University Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine, with 65 members of the school community taking advantage of this opportunity.
School of Pharmacy: To improve climate and build capacity for faculty and staff to engage and apply concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion into practice all School of Pharmacy faculty and staff are participating in a minimum of four hours of diversity-related training of their choosing. The school also sponsored a WISELI “Breaking the Bias Habit” half-day workshop to build skills on creating and strengthening a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive campus environment. This training was attended by 117 faculty and staff members.
School of Law: UW Law School provides aspiring scholars an outstanding opportunity to prepare for a career in law teaching through our William H. Hastie Fellow Program. The two-year program allows fellows pursue a scholarly agenda of their choice, preparing two pieces for publication while receiving mentoring in both their teaching and scholarly work. Hastie program alumni are renowned legal scholars. Just this year, we had a Hastie graduate named a MacArthur Fellow or “Genius Grant” recipient and another recently appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as the deputy director for energy justice at the Department of Energy.
College of Letters & Science: A project led by Elizabeth Hennessy, a professor in the college’s Department of History and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, was selected in December 2020 as one of 16 winning projects in the aforementioned Mellon Foundation’s “Just Futures Initiative” competition. The project, “Humanities Education for Antiracism Literacy (HEAL) in the Sciences and Medicine,” will bring together faculty, students, community members and tribal partners to address a lack of awareness of histories of racism in academic disciplines, especially in scientific disciplines, and a lack of diverse representation in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM) across sectors, from academia to industry.
College of Engineering: Members of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI), which is housed within the College of Engineering, developed a series of audience-focused workshops known as Breaking the Bias Habit, which are designed to promote a diverse, welcoming and inclusive campus. The team has facilitated and disseminated these workshops not only to faculty, staff and student groups throughout the college, but elsewhere on campus and beyond.
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies: The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies achieved an 85% attendance rate at an Introduction to Implicit Bias training for faculty and staff held on December 14, 2020, surpassing an 80% participation goal. A follow up training, Implicit Bias in Evaluation Processes, where the focus will be on graduate student admissions and hiring took place on February 5, 2021.
School of Education: The School of Education’s partnerships have led to multiple opportunities for scholarship, learning, and discussion in the UW and broader community. The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI) partnered with the Office of Professional Learning and Community Engagement (PLACE) to host the Real Talk for Real Change (RTRC) equity symposia series, which focuses on the critical issues of racial justice in education by centering the voices of UW–Madison scholars of color and community members.
Additionally, the School of Education’s OEDI partnered with the Global Education Office to host the, “Stand Together: Asian and Asian American Student and Scholar Virtual Gathering.” The Communication and Advancement Office hosted a Literati reading group on whiteness in America. OEDI introduced Racial and Ethnic Affinity Cluster Talks (REACTS), which introduced the concept of racial affinity groups. And finally, a committee of School of Education faculty and staff was awarded a grant as part of UW–Madison’s Our Shared Future initiative, allowing the committee to host a variety of Indigenous speakers from across the country, as well as put on a digital art exhibition.
Student Affairs: The Center for Leadership and Involvement in Student Affairs is partnering with DDEEA and colleagues from across campus to conduct a multi-institutional study of leadership. They will survey students in spring 2021 to measure their leadership outcome attainment at UW–Madison and to learn whether students have equitable access to experiences associated with leadership development.
During the spring semester, Student Affairs will work on staff development by piloting new self-assessment tools and professional development plans in its various units based on a set of competencies it established related to diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement: The Office of Affirmative Action Planning and Programming is in charge of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action reporting and oversight for the university. The office prepares workforce diversity reports for schools, colleges, and divisions at UW, and works closely with partner offices, including Human Resources, Compliance, and Provost, to review and update policies, procedures and best practices. The office advances conversation on staff climate. In collaboration with OSDPR, the office conducted an analysis of the EID 2020 Survey data and VCFA workforce data and assessed hiring outreach efforts, analyzing how UW compares with peer institutions and historical trends.
Additionally, the Office of Strategic Diversity Planning and Research is responsible for research, evaluation and assessment actions as well as leading quality improvement activities and supporting internal and external reviews for the division’s internal and external stakeholders. The office supports thought leadership in the area of strategic planning and execution and monitors the implementation of the Diversity Framework, working closely with a variety of stakeholders in coordinating the reporting of DEI activities, including the UW–Madison Diversity Inventory. The centralized online database of diversity programs events and services tracks campus’s progress toward creative a more inclusive community.
Commitment to Campus Community
School of Law: In response to concerns raised by the Black Law Student Association, the Law School is hosting the program “Antiracism: How to Intervene for Yourself and Others” with presenter Marcelius Braxton. Limited to second- and third-year students, the programming aims to improve the law school experience for all students. Law is also planning an antiracism training for faculty later this spring. Hosted by Dean Daniel Tokaji, this spring series of Race, Law, and Democracy Community panels addresses the intersection of race, law, and democracy in several different arenas and topic areas. The fall 2020 panels were focused on Election Law, Voting Rights, and Policing. Spring 2021 panels will address the recent insurrection attempting to disrupt the counting of electoral votes, the history of racial justice at UW–Madison and the Law School, and legal issues facing Indigenous nations and people.
School of Human Ecology: The School of Human Ecology is midway through a decade-long plan to advance diversity and equity priorities in our school. Having embedded these in our strategic plan in phase one and supported recruitment and learning communities in phase two, the Equity and Justice Network (E&JNet) is launched as phase three. The goal is to support the continued evolution of our school into a community wherein people with diverse backgrounds find success, share knowledge, and advance justice. It connects scholarly communities in cross-unit study and outreach, recruits and retains underrepresented students in their disciplines and supports applied social justice efforts by groups of faculties, students, and/or staff. The iterative learning and relationship building of this network will guide phase four.
DIVISION OF CONTINUING STUDIES: In August 2020, DCS created a new diversity, equity and inclusion director position in the dean’s office to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Sarah Korpi will help inform and focus the work of individual unit leaders across the division and since August has created a Canvas-based community of practice focused on ongoing professional development related to DEI. DCS will conduct a climate survey in October 2021 and host a series of collaborative sessions to engage staff in the process. A new diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice practitioner community for employees to connect with each other about their efforts has also been developed.
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: CALS “Lunch & Learn” series continues with topics covering supporting racially and ethnically underrepresented students in higher education, the history of diversity and climate initiatives at UW, scientifically tested methods to reduce racism and promotion inclusion, and a highlight of a department’s efforts in a women’s and all-inclusive student event to promote inclusion. Individuals from 45 departments and units on campus attended these events and included a variety of faculty, staff, and graduate students. Over the four hosted events during the 2019–20 academic year, 107 people were in attendance. Of those attendees, 33 individuals attended at least two or more events.
Finance & Administration: Our second- and third-shift employees have been deeply impacted by the many work changes and transitions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these employees hold essential positions and have had to report to campus to fulfill their job duties since March 2020. Many of these employees have also been asked to take on new and diferent work responsibilities related to mitigating spread of the virus on campus, including increased cleaning protocols. A group of campus representatives, sponsored by the Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration and the Chief Diversity Officer, have been meeting to identify ways to recognize our second- and third-shift employee population for their dedication to their essential campus work and their willingness to put themselves at greater risk by reporting to campus during this uncertain and challenging time.
Student Affairs: UW–Madison welcomed journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson as the Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium keynote speaker. Wilkerson is the author of Caste and The Warmth of Other Suns, and she is the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. More than 4,000 students, employees, and community members attended the virtual event, sponsored by Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement in partnership with the Wisconsin Union Theater.
Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement: On December 9, DDEEA convened MDCs/ Diversity Officers, divisional Diversity & Equity Committee chairs, and DEI-focused shared governance committee leaders and members to discuss a range of strategic issues, including critical components of a formal professional development curriculum for UW–Madison employees and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on students, faculty, staff, and the university’s organizational culture. Six shared governance committees participated in this inaugural summit:
- Campus Diversity & Climate Committee
- Committee on Disability Access & Inclusion
- Committee for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer People in the University
- Committee on Immigration & International Issues
- Committee for Women in the University
- Committee on Undergraduate Recruitment, Admissions, & Financial Aid
All of these actions build on steps UW–Madison has taken over the past several years to expand need-based aid and improve the recruitment and retention of students of color and other underrepresented groups. Evidence of the impact of our efforts includes:
- Over the last decade, the presence of underrepresented undergraduate students of color on campus has grown from 9.9 percent in 2011 to 11.7 percent of the student body in 2020.
- During the same period, the presence of faculty of color has increased from 18 percent to 25 percent of the university’s faculty.
- The retention rate (freshmen returning for a second year) for underrepresented domestic students of color is 95.9 percent. This is the highest it has ever been and above the retention rate for UW–Madison students as a whole (95.2 percent). The 2020 freshman class includes 989 underrepresented domestic students of color who identify as African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian, or Southeast Asian American. This number is up 19.8 percent, from 825 the prior year, and represents 13.5 percent of the freshman class.
Now is the time to come together around our mutual resolve. Let’s make this campus and world safe for all. Together, we have the power to heal, the power to work for justice, and the power to make meaningful change.