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Building an Inclusive Campus Culture

The President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion was convened in a August 31, 2016 memorandum from President Kerwin and is charged with monitoring and reporting progress on elements of the Diversity and Inclusion Plan, which was drafted in February 2016 and reaffirmed in April 2016. The initial meeting of the committee was September 29, 2016, organized by President Kerwin and Council Chair Caleen Sinnette Jennings. Members of the community who wish to communicate with the council may do so at

2017-2018 President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion

Disclaimer: Some retouching was done on this photo.

  • Caleen Sinnette Jennings, chair, Council on Diversity and Inclusion; professor of theatre, department of performing arts, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jeff Rutenbeck, co-chair, Council on Diversity and Inclusion; dean, School of Communication
  • Kelly Alexander, member, Staff Council; director of public relations, University Communications and Marketing
  • Sara Bendoraitis, director of programming, outreach and advocacy, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Campus Life
  • Tristan Cabello, director of American studies, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Bridget Cooney, finance project manager, Office of Finance and Treasurer
  • Deborah Demille-Wagman, AUx instructor, Office of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies
  • Larry Engel, associate professor, School of Communication
  • Lia Epperson, professor and associate dean for faculty and academic programs, Washington College of Law
  • Sara Nieves-Grafals, member, AU Alumni Board; clinical psychologist
  • Alan Kraut, professor of history, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lauren Lumpkin, director of diversity and inclusion, Student Government
  • Beth Muha, assistant vice president of human resources, Office of Human Resources
  • Yamillet Payano, inclusion director, AUSG executive branch; SG Senate undergraduate
  • Portia Polk, graduate student and graduate research assistant, SPA
  • Ammarah Rehman, co-president, Muslim Students' Association
  • Mark Schaefer, university chaplain, Kay Spiritual Life Center, Office of Campus Life
  • Thi Nguyen-Southern, associate general counsel, Office of the General Counsel

PCDI Progress

Campus Climate

  • Spaces have been or are in the process of being designated for student groups in Mary Graydon Center and in Kay Spiritual Life Center
  • PCDI Listens has held 6 sessions in residence halls this semester
  • PCDI has met with
    • The Muslim Students Association
    • Alumni and a student who identify as politically conservative
    • The Interfaith Council of Kay Spiritual Life Center
    • A group of 15 student organization leaders
    • Multicultural Alumni Group
  • PCDI initiatives in progress
    • Sub-group on political and intellectual diversity organization that will bring together people with a variety of political points of view
    • Connection between Student Activities Staff and student leaders
    • Connection between Muslim Students Association and Residential Life, Housing and Dining
  • AU's Office of Institutional Research continues to revise its campus climate survey, based on feedback. A town hall was held in October.
  • Classroom climate questions will be included on ITS
  • Center for Diversity & Inclusion continues to contribute to and curate AU's series "Crucial Conversations" in a variety of schools, programs and centers

Training and Development

  • PCDI has met with Jill Stein and Maria de Jesus for an overview of all of Center for Teaching, Resarch and Learning programs. There are multiple training programs (from multi-session to one-off's) on a wide variety of topics including economic diversity, race & ethnicity, improving classroom climate, handling difficult conversations. The Ann Ferren Teaching Conference will have several designated sessions
  • PCDI has brought together all of the key stakeholders that are holding training and development sessions. These include:
    • Center for Teaching, Research & Learning o Faculty Leadership Development Course (Under the Provost's Office)
    • Human Resources

The PCDI sub-group on training & development is in the process of doing a matrix of courses and trainings which will be shared with the campus.

Infrastructure: Policies and Procedures

PCDI has created a Policies and Procedures sub-group which will:

  • Compile all of AU's diversity & inclusion related policies
  • Review the final drafts of the bias and harassment policies and reporting systems
  • Determine how best to communicate these policies to the campus community and make them accessible on line
  • With the help of an external consultant, develop a diversity statement and refine AU-specific definitions of key terms, such as "diversity", "inclusion", "equity"

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan

Since July 2017, the university has been working with an external consultant to develop a plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion that will bring strategic focus and short-term action with demonstrable impact, designed to signal commitment and accountability.

Learn more about the plan