Wed. Feb 20th, 2019

U of L employees to undergo diversity training

Photo by: Madison Thompson

By Maggie Vancampen —

Administrators are pushing for diversity training programs for employees at nearly every level of the university’s staff and faculty.

The programs are part of the campus environment team’s action plan, created in response to recent campus climate survey results, published in November, 2017 with no executive summary and no plans for third-party analysis.

Mordean Taylor-Archer, vice provost for diversity and international affairs, and Robert Goldstein, vice provost for institutional effectiveness, addressed the campus community in an email that said, “You spoke. We listened. And we acted.”

Goldstein and the office of institutional effectiveness submitted their analysis of the results in December, before the campus environment team was tasked with forming an action plan.

“One of the major issues identified in the climate survey focused on leadership in regards to poor communication and the lack of transparency,” the email said.

In an effort to engage those affected by the action plan, administrators hosted focus groups to help inform the campus community.

More training was needed to identify and abolish micro and macro-aggressions within a working environment.

“Experiencing micro and macro-aggressions and implicit biases are roadblocks to building an inclusive campus climate,” the email said.

Micro and macro-aggressions are nouns used to describe the degree of racial or discriminatory bias a person faces.

Marian Vasser was hired in 2016 to be the university’s director of diversity education and inclusive excellence unit that helped to train participants to identify these aggressions.

“To date, she has conducted more than 400 training sessions with several thousand participants that included employees and students on Belknap and HSC campuses,” the email said.

Brian Buford is assistant provost for diversity and director of the U of L LGBT+ Center.

The email also said a plan is being drafted to create a leadership program for faculty of color.

“The provost has charged the vice provost for faculty development and the vice provost for diversity and international affairs [Taylor-Archer] with devising a leadership development plan for faculty of color to be submitted in the spring of 2019,” the email said.

“The vice provost for diversity and international affairs will work with the Campus Environment Team, which includes representatives of the Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality and the Commission on the Status of Women, and the chairs of the unit diversity committees to prioritize the action plan recommendations and will submit them to the president and provost in December.”

Part Two

The second part of the survey has been sent to faculty and staff in another email. The second module focuses on leadership/supervision, compensation/benefits, professional development and campus facilities according to the second email.

Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives, said, “Overall, I think this survey covers some important ground that will help us understand better what accounts for current issues in employee morale – i.e. what is UofL doing well and where do we need to focus our energies in order to make UofL the ‘great place to work’ that Neeli frequently mentions as a primary goal of her administration.”

Mog said he wished that there were more questions about sustainability practices on campus and about the actual culture of campus. “They are not attempting to explore how fun, enjoyable, and (non-monetarily) rewarding it is to work here and, to my mind, that’s a major factor in whether or not it’s a great place to work.”

He said he wished there were more open-ended questions to allow for personal expression and to voice concerns that weren’t previously mentioned in the survey.

“As a survey researcher myself, I know how difficult it can be to analyze those kinds of qualitative results, but I also know how revealing they can be. It’s a way to see beyond your own framework and set of assumptions about the subject. This analysis was done for the first module, so it is possible.”

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