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Diversity Includes Me

New strategic plan for diversity calls on all to participate

Embracing Diversity has long been one of the strategic goals of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Now, university leaders – and the university community – have embarked on a process to realize that goal.

Faculty, staff and students converged at the Student Union on April 9 to witness the rollout of a new Diversity Strategic Plan, the product of more than two years of work by the Chancellor’s Diversity Council. University leaders and members of the council described the plan, and the process that led to its formation.

Key to the plan is the identification of five dimensions for diversity.  Each dimension includes primary expected outcomes that will provide vision and direction to campus activities and strategies in the future. For each of the five dimensions, the plan outlines:

  • A short list of Priority Actions that can be implemented in the near term
  • A longer list of intermediate goals with specific corresponding metrics, accountabilities and target dates
  • And long-term strategic objectives

The Priority Action items are steps that can rapidly set the stage for longer term efforts and successes. Some of these items are already in the process of implementation, said council co-chair Dr. Marsha Pyle, dean of the School of Dentistry. They include:

  • Decrease barriers to veteran student access and success
  • Enhance all employee diversity training through Human Resources, and enhance new employee orientation training with impactful programming such as Cultural Awareness/Climate tool box training
  • Make diversity a component of the annual performance evaluation of all employees
  • Delegate aspects of oversight of the Diversity Strategic Plan to the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, with resources designated to fulfill those responsibilities
  • Charge the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion with leadership responsibilities for ongoing activities; and outcome accountability for achievement of the Diversity Strategic Plan goals
  • Create a Diversity Dashboard for easy access to outcome tracking of all diversity data across the campus, with progress indicators, and report the findings to campus and community
  • Require each academic unit to develops Diversity Strategic Plan
  • Set aside a small pool of campus funds for diversity related projects submitted by application by members of the faculty, staff or student groups.

“We are pleased to announce that, to date, $30,000 has been committed to this Priority Action with the assistance of the Alumni Association Governing Board, The UMKC Trustees, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” Pyle said.

The full strategic plan is available online at http://info.umkc.edu/strategicplan/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/UMKC-Stra-Diver-Pln-FINAL31914.pdf

Dr. Marita Barkis, the other co-chair, said the council included diverse individuals from all sectors of the community and the university, including administrators, faculty, and staff at all levels.

“The plan developed by the Council is the product of input from UMKC campus and community stakeholders; it is informed by data and expertise relevant to diversity, many hours of thoughtful dialogue, and analysis of a variety of resources,” she said.

During the program, individuals representing faculty, staff and students stood in turn to describe – in heartfelt, emotional stories – their experiences and commitment to diversity at UMKC. They were student Benjamin Campero, faculty member Bonita Butner and staff member Arnold Abels.

“This is vital to our mission to educate the next generation of Kansas City leaders and professionals, and it is equally vital to our mission to truly be Kansas City’s university, and the university for all of Kansas City,” said Chancellor Leo E. Morton. He acknowledged that achieving the plan’s lofty goals will not be easy, but added “just because something may be difficult to achieve is no excuse for failing to accept the challenge.

“It is up to us to take the measure not just of our academic and scholarly efforts, but of our devotion to justice and equality. Those values require more than talk. They must be lived out in our classrooms, on our athletic fields, in our residence halls, in our community interactions,” Morton added. “Diversity includes me, because my university, my workplace, declares that we all matter.”

Dr. Susan Wilson was introduced at the event as the university’s new Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion.

“I’m pretty excited” about taking on the new responsibility, Wilson said, and called for open, honest communication among all members of the university community.

“It is only through open dialogue that we can develop ideas that jump off the page, and don’t just sit on the page,” she said.


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