Letter on Diversity and Inclusion 2017

Letter On Diversity

May 2, 2017

Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,

When the President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion was created in 2013, I promised that we would provide periodic updates about efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion across units and groups on our campus. While we acknowledge that there is still much to be done — indeed, this task will never be completely accomplished — I am pleased with the positive steps we have taken. I write now in the paragraphs that follow to inform you about a few of the key initiatives that are underway.

"While diversity is laudably a concern at many universities in our nation, at Notre Dame our Catholic mission inspires and orients our commitment in a particularly powerful way."

Before turning to the details, it might be helpful to reflect on the source and depth of our commitment in this area. While diversity is laudably a concern at many universities in our nation, at Notre Dame our Catholic mission inspires and orients our commitment in a particularly powerful way. This mission is the basis for Notre Dame’s Principles of Diversity and Inclusion articulated in Fall 2016. I urge you to strive, individually and collectively, to live out these principles. In doing so, we can become ever more fully the community we want to be.

Below are some important initiatives underway for faculty, students and staff. More information about these and other related initiatives can be found at diversity.nd.edu.

For Faculty

  • Each college/school has now completed a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan, focusing on five areas: Making the Case for Diversity; Resourcing the Recruitment Effort; Hardwiring the Faculty Search Process; Strategies for Retaining and Developing Faculty; and Improving Climate. The deans have identified coordinators within the respective colleges to help them monitor implementation and ensure progress.
  • Highlighting the connection between inclusivity and Notre Dame’s Catholic character, the Provost’s Office enhanced its website with diversity and inclusion resources and faculty FAQs. The website will also soon feature faculty stories as part of a new initiative, “Under One Dome,” aimed at highlighting the multiple ways faculty are engaged in diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice through their pedagogy, research and community engagement.
  • Over the course of this academic year, faculty from across campus as well as the Provost’s Office and Notre Dame Research have taken part in a number of diversity workshops held on campus, covering topics such as inclusive pedagogy, implicit bias and recruitment, faculty retention, mentoring, and diversity in federal and private foundation proposals.
  • Notre Dame has renewed its participation in the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), which maintains a diverse database of graduate students and post-docs, including large percentages of women and underrepresented minorities. The University is also working with the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development.

For Students

  • The new Office of Student Enrichment officially opened in Fall 2016 to support high-achieving, under-resourced students. With the goal of creating a more inclusive environment, the Office recently launched the Fighting Irish Scholars Pilot Program to facilitate peer mentoring between upperclassmen and first-year students, as well as providing financial resources and programming. Instructors in the Moreau First Year Experience Course were given training to enhance the cultural competency component of the course taken by all first-year students.
  • A committee appointed by the President’s Office and comprised of students, faculty and staff chose and commissioned two major pieces of art celebrating Notre Dame’s commitment to diversity and inclusion to be installed in the new Duncan Student Center.
  • All staff in Student Affairs are participating in the University’s multicultural competencies workshops.

For Staff

  • With heightened focus on diversity in hiring and promotions, Notre Dame has seen a significant increase over the past five years in the number of diverse employees in exempt positions. In 2016, diversity-focused recruitment led to over 7,000 candidates from underrepresented groups viewing Notre Dame job opportunities, and the University is actively working to raise its profile as an employer in minority communities. Increasing the number of women and underrepresented employees in management positions continues to be a key priority.
  • The establishment of a new Affirmative Action Plan Metrics system allows senior management to track gaps in hiring versus market availability across the University.
  • Over 4,200 employees have participated in the multicultural competencies workshops to date.
  • Notre Dame now has seven Employee Resource Groups with over 1,000 members.
  • The University continued to see improvement in the diversity scores in the most recent ND Voice employee satisfaction survey, with diversity ranking second in overall improvement since the survey’s inception in 2006.

Finally, Notre Dame’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, including a prayer service in the Main Building and a community-wide luncheon in the Joyce Center, has become one of the most widely-attended MLK Day commemorations among universities nationally, with over 4,000 students, faculty, and staff in attendance this year. The week that follows MLK Day, which we have designated “Walk the Walk Week,” featured a wide variety of events on campus designed to foster dialogue and reflection.

"Whatever challenges there are, they should lead us to recommit ourselves to building a community of respect, love and mutual support."

Most of us would perhaps agree that these are particularly challenging times in our nation for the cultivation of diversity and inclusion. We cannot be afraid to talk openly, in ways that are both honest and respectful, about the opportunities and challenges, hopes and anxieties, before us. Yet whatever challenges there are, they should lead us to recommit ourselves to building a community of respect, love and mutual support that will reflect the spirit of Notre Dame. Much good work has been done, more remains to be done. Let us do it together.

In Notre Dame,
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

For more information about these and other diversity and inclusion initiatives, please visitdiversity.nd.edu