First Steps Toward Inclusive Excellence Fall Semester 2018 Update

In January, we began our journey toward inclusive excellence. The beginning of a new semester is a good time to take stock of progress and challenges. It's also an ideal time to restate our commitment, as an institution and as individuals, to creating a culture of inclusion and equity at AU. Learn how AU is taking first steps toward our goals for inclusive excellence, and look for ways you can get involved.

First Steps Toward Inclusive Excellence


Faculty, students, and staff, including President Sylvia Burwell, share how AU is beginning to move forward together toward achieving inclusive excellence goals.

Progress Highlights

While there has been progress across all of the goals, early efforts have focused on goals #1 and 2, which we believe will be the foundation for achieving our other goals.

Objective: Members of the AU community will demonstrate cultural competency by learning key concepts that will reduce bias and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, and equip them to lead change in a complex world.

100% Engagement

The president's cabinet and deans have all completed intercultural competence assessment and are engaged in ongoing learning.

500+ Newly Trained Faculty

Through a new Faculty Development Leadership Cohort (FDLC) on Diversity and Inclusion, 14 faculty members completed training in inclusive teaching practices, and then trained an additional 500 more faculty.

89% of Incoming First-year Students

Fall 2018 incoming first year students at Eagle Summit participated in an intercultural engagement session.

Objective: We will develop a campus climate and culture where all community members feel safe, experience a sense of belonging and satisfaction—and their overall well-being is supported through respectful, authentic, and engaged relationships with each other.

PCDI 2.0

In order to broadly represent the AU community, the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion adopted a tri-chair structure to bring faculty, staff, and administration into its leadership. There’s also an alumni representative among the new members, and its new Student Advisory Council will be announced in mid-September.

6 Mini-grants

Six inclusive-excellence projects were funded in spring 2018, ranging from staff trainings to alumni collaborations.

2 New Spaces on Campus

Two new spaces for students to interact and support each other opened on campus. The Bridge Cafe and the Hub for Organizing, Multiculturalism and Equity (HOME) provide spaces for support and positive interactions among multicultural communities and allies.

102 Participants in Mentoring Matters

51 staff mentors matched with an equal number of mentees across 11 campus units for professional enrichment and to improve workplace culture.

2 New Faculty/Staff Affinity Groups

Human Resources launched two new affinity groups to help faculty and staff build relationships with colleagues across campus. The Latino and Hispanic Faculty & Staff Affinity Group and the LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group join the Black Faculty & Staff Affinity Group to make a total of three.

Celebrating Graduates

Several special graduation celebrations recognized underrepresented communities as they prepared to join the AU alumni ranks. The Third Annual Black Graduation, the Second Annual Latinx Graduation and the Inaugural Student-Veteran Graduation were a celebration of the hard-work and dedication of students from these communities.

Objective: AU's systems, policies, and procedures will facilitate diversity, inclusion, transparency, and accountability. We will evaluate, revise, and communicate changes in policies and protocols that will facilitate reports of bias and discrimination, improve clarity, provide transparency, promote fairness, and enhance accountability.

Policy Impacts

Both the Disability Grievance Policy and Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy were evaluated and updated, and a comprehensive policy on religious accommodation is in final review.

Objective: We will transform the way we recruit, hire, train, develop, evaluate, and recognize AU faculty, staff, and administrators to encourage the achievement of our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

Reducing Food insecurity

In response to student-conducted surveys indicating food insecurities on campus, the Market, a student-operated food pantry, opened in spring 2018 on the lower level of Letts Hall.

Partnering for Success

In April 2018, President Burwell signed on to Excelencia's Presidents for Latino Student Success Initiative. Presidents enrolled in the Excelencia in Action (E-Action) network collaborate with Excelencia in Education to leverage collective expertise and resources, foster partnerships, and amplify current efforts at the national level.

Opening Doors for Future Teachers

The new partnership between AU's School of Education and DC Public Schools is aimed at establishing a diverse pipeline of teachers for the city's schools.

Objective: We will offer an inclusive core curriculum that advances a holistic learning experience and demonstrates AU's values of critical inquiry, intellectual engagement, and respectful discourse across diverse perspectives.

1,800 First-Year Students

The mandatory American University Experience II (AUx2) course encourages dialogue across difference through a multidisciplinary curriculum. The new course will roll out to about 1,800 first-year students in spring 2019. The course will be guided by the new AUx2 Council, comprised of full-time faculty and staff from across campus. Members of the council provide program oversight, engage in curricular review and recommendations, and participate in ongoing AUx2 instructor training and mentorship.

New Language Course

CAS’s Department of World Languages and Cultures is offering a new course for Spanish-heritage speakers.

Amanda Taylor and Fanta Aw are two of the Inclusive Excellence collaboration leaders.

Leading Collaboration

Meet the leaders from across campus who are facilitating the collaborative efforts of Inclusive Excellence.


New Connections for Hispanic Journalism Students

The first student chapter in Washington, DC, of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) launched at AU in 2018.

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Lara Schwartz, director of the new Project on Civil Discourse, wants to move beyond predictable debates about campus speech.

The Power of Words

The new Project on Civil Discourse will discuss how to accomplish diversity, inclusion, and free speech on campus.

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We still have much work to do to achieve our vision, and we continue to learn along the way. In some areas, we've moved forward incrementally but know more work is needed. While there are numerous improvements to facilities to make them more accessible, many more are needed, and we know the construction on campus is making it difficult to get around. As a result of PCDI Listens, AU Dining has expanded some of its offerings, but others are needed to address more of our community's needs. We're still actively working to clarify our bias response process. Early efforts are underway to establish diversity resources for faculty and staff hiring committees.

Our initial steps have been a result of our collective efforts. Continued progress will require all of us to collaborate and remain committed to this challenging and crucial work.

More to Come ...

To mark the plan's first year, a full progress report will be issued. In the meantime, we will continue to share regular updates. If you have comments, ideas, or questions, email us.


Building on Promising Practices

AU has utilized some of its unique tools to move toward an inclusive campus. When the Inclusive Excellence Plan launched, we identified programs that support our new efforts, including some that have already shown progress. We continue to build on these promising practices.

Members of the AU Alumni Association Board

Alumni Board

Meet the new Alumni Board, the most diverse in AU's recorded history, that will work toward improving the student experience.

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Ibram X. Kendi, the founder of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center

Antiracist Research and Policy Center

Professor Ibram X. Kendi joined AU to launch the first-of-its-kind Center in spring 2018.

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