Diversity and inclusion are central to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s mission and its pursuit of excellence. The university is continually reviewing its efforts for enhancing diversity and inclusion.
During 2014-15, several meetings and small focus groups were organized with faculty, staff and students from a variety of backgrounds to discuss the current status of our diversity efforts and to solicit input on what issues were not being addressed and what actions could be taken. From these focus groups, it was clear that what would be most productive is a long-term plan for systematic change rather than short-term events organized in reaction to campus incidents. We have adopted this course of action.
In the Fall of 2014, the Office of Academic Affairs commissioned a study about best practices in the academic enterprise for diversity and inclusion. Based on this study, the chancellor’s office and academic affairs hired an outside consulting firm to conduct a diversity analysis of the institution and to assist us in formulating a new plan for diversity and inclusion.
The consulting firm is also helping the university to define job descriptions and an associated reporting structure and resource plan for an office that would lead diversity and inclusion efforts at the campus level. An important insight gathered from observing similar efforts at other institutions is that those that have more clearly defined organizational structures and resources around their diversity and inclusion efforts have seen greater success in creating change. This approach requires more time, but we are convinced it is the right approach.
The Chancellor’s Diversity Council
This group was created during the Fall 2014 semester and first convened in Spring 2015 to provide the chancellor and his leadership team with input and guidance on high-level issues of diversity and inclusion. The council endeavors to communicate with the many individuals and organizations on campus and in the local community that are engaged on these issues. The council created and maintains the website diversity.unl.edu as a central repository of information and events related to diversity and inclusion.
The current members of the Chancellor’s Diversity Council are:
- Charlie Foster, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (Chair)
- Mark Balschweid, Department Head, Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication
- Karen Kassebaum, Director of Staff Diversity and Inclusion
- Leemah Nasrati, ASUN Student Representative
- Bill Nunez, Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance
- Tami Strickman, Assistant to the Chancellor, Institutional Equity & Compliance
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