DEI Strategic Overview
Saint Joseph’s University has made considerable progress toward the completion of a number of strategic diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals outlined in the current strategic plan and contained within the Draft Blueprint for Inclusive Excellence document and the information learned from the 2018 Institutional Climate Study.
As stated on the SJU website, these past efforts had two primary goals:
- Gain knowledge about how faculty, staff and students currently perceive and experience the campus climate
- Apply findings to inform current inclusion work, develop strategic priorities and create an Inclusive Excellence Blueprint for all areas of the institution
Below is an outline of recent achievements, as well as a strategic framework for building on our strong foundation into the future. This will be a living and evolving document that grows with the institution, as our DEI work is never done. You can read the full document here.
At Saint Joseph’s, diversity, equity and inclusion is a focal point of the University’s strategy and mission. Notably, the University has made significant strides in DEI in the last five years, and the following highlights are examples of initiatives completed in recent months.
- The enactment of the Chosen Name and Identity Guidelines
- Changes to our bias activity protocols and processes
- The increase in the number of all-gender restrooms across campus
- Faculty DEI sessions to support and facilitate inclusive classroom conversations and to ensure fair and equitable hiring
- The increase and standardization of diversity and inclusion training and professional development across campus units — including faculty, staff and administration
Plans for this Year
While Saint Joseph’s diversity, equity and inclusion work is wide-ranging, the following priorities have been identified for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Our development and participation in the SJU Unlimited Learning Series (in July 2020) exploring the structural inequalities in our city was intended as a first of many conversations that will hopefully lead us toward social change. The Diversity and Inclusion Lecture Series will focus on structural inequality, protests as a means for social change and civic engagement, including the following topics:
- Interdisciplinary understandings of protest as a means for social change
- Athletics and protests
- Advocacy and agency in the digital age
- Understanding structural inequality in Philadelphia
- Philadelphia’s initiatives in the LGBTQIA+ and Black Trans Lives Matter movement
With the success of the inaugural event in February 2020, we plan to build upon the knowledge, skills and discourse about diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus and in our immediate community. There will be day and evening action-oriented sessions that provide practical, participatory and agency-building tools for inside and outside of the classroom for our University constituents. The event will close with an evening plenary with an external keynote speaker on a timely and critical DEI topic. Classes for the day and evening will be cancelled so that all students can participate in the events and discussions.
In partnership with the Student Life, the Provost’s Office and Student Senate, we have revised our University policies for on-campus demonstrations to be student-friendly and to work in tandem with the Office of Public Safety, Division of Student Life and the office of the Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Our goal is to provide our students with an inclusive and effective means for expressing civic engagement while keeping our campus community and our neighborhood community safe. The new approach and policy was successfully implemented during the Walk of Solidarity, held on campus in June 2020, in support of protests against the killing of George Floyd.
In partnership with the Art Department, we have made a significant investment toward diversifying the art programming by featuring diverse artists and genres and with the ultimate goal of diversifying the University art collection as a long-term investment strategy. The SJU Women’s Center is using the donor gift of purchased artwork by Lavett Ballard of a mixed media painting called “Redbone” with an African American woman subject. Ballard is a prominent African American woman artist based in southern New Jersey who was recently featured in Time Magazine. She is exhibiting her art on campus in Merion Hall beginning August 31 through early September.
The Office of the Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will partner with Institutional Research to explore ongoing surveys to assess our culture. Best practices indicate that campus climate be assessed on a every two- to three-year basis.
The Office of the Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will partner with the offices of IT and Human Resources to launch a new DEI-focused faculty and staff training portal using a new IT Platform called Bridge. This training platform will permit asynchronous DEI training and professional development content to be available 24/7 to our staff and faculty constituents. It will also assist the University in meeting our equity and compliance goals for training new and current faculty and staff (full and part- time).
The Office of the Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will help shape and execute academic and co-curricular programming that supports the strategic initiatives of the office and the University. This includes an exploration of new advisory council structures that could enhance the University’s DEI strategy development and execution.
Ongoing Projects and Priorities
Our DEI work can be seen in our recruitment strategies, research and fundraising and University relations. The following actions provide an overview of our holistic, multidisciplinary approach.
We are committed to increasing diversity among our student body and retaining the diverse Hawks who are already a part of our community. In partnership with Enrollment Management, the University Advancement team and other campus colleagues, we are pursuing several funding opportunities in this regard:
- In partnership with Advancement, the establishment of the DEI Strategic Innovation Fund to permit research, development and execution of the University's strategic priorities associated with diversity, equity and inclusion. This includes support of the Annual Diversity and Inclusion Lecture Series, the Annual Faculty Signature Lecture Series, Annual Day of Dialogue Program, DEI Faculty Scholars Program and Faculty Innovation Teaching and Research Mini Grants program to advance diverse and culturally relevant pedagogy.
- In partnership with Advancement, the Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID) is fundraising to start the Ready to Launch Program for fall 2021. This program is designed to be a culminating and complementary programming experience for juniors and seniors with diverse identities to build internship, practicum and career development skills for preparing, planning and navigating life after college. The goal of the program is to assist diverse SJU students with understanding their strengths and leveraging their diversity to build navigational capital toward career planning, networking and support toward successful alumni engagement. Program activities will consist of presentations on developing and growing executive presence, vocational discernment and career trajectory planning, considerations of internship, fellowship and graduate school opportunities and more.
- In partnership with Enrollment Management and in fulfillment of our university commitment to equal access to college education and the value of a diverse student body, Saint Joseph's University is exploring partnership agreements with Philadelphia-based college access and nonprofit organizations to provide eligible students with comprehensive college admissions support, while SJU will provide on-campus support and financial aid assistance.
Exploring DEI in a research setting is critical to our mission as an academic institution, and it enables us to advance learning in this field of study. To this end, we will regularly submit grant-based proposals.
Our partnership with our external constituents, including our alumni, donors and neighbors, is critical to the success of our extended community. The following priorities have been identified and are in progress.
- Creation of the Diverse Alumni Council that will function as a subcommittee of the SJU National Alumni Board (NAB). The Diverse Alumni Council works as part of the SJU National Alumni Board and in partnership with the Office of the Associate Provost for DEI to engage our diverse alumni to give back to SJU in time, talents and treasure in terms of mentoring, event planning and strategic visioning for long-term engagement with the University among our diverse graduates.
- Ongoing DEI support and training for our University Advancement Team to seek out and support inclusive excellence best practices in corporate and alumni giving efforts.
- Advancement has also committed to leveraging resources and support to fund the aforementioned student pipeline development initiatives.