Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Enhancements

 

May 18, 2021

Dear Academic Affairs Community:

After arriving as Provost in July 2020, I began working with Deans, AVPs, Chairs, the CFA, the Academic Senate, and the President’s Cabinet to identify steps we could take to improve the diversity of our faculty, staff, and students; the equity of their experiences of success and challenge; and the inclusivity of our community spaces. While we are still at early stages of this collaborative effort, here is a summary of where we are now, nearly at the end of this first academic year. Thank you to the roughly one hundred individuals who have contributed to conversations on this topic on a regular basis, helped us prioritize areas of focus, and take actions to create positive change. This is work we will continue to undertake, in broad partnership with the Titan community, throughout the time I am serving in this role.

Feedback is welcome. Please email me your thoughts at provostthomas@fullerton.edu.

Thank you, 

Carolyn Thomas, Ph.D.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Our Efforts

I. Inclusive Climate


 

Creating a more inclusive climate in the classroom and our deparments and colleges.

College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committees

  • We currently have DEI committees in 6 of our 8 colleges (one college has opted instead to ensure DEI efforts are included in all key work of the college). These committees have slightly different aims, but together are focused on shifting policies and practices to ensure that climates within our colleges are inclusive of all students, faculty, and staff. Concrete work these committees have done include:
    • Reframing the faculty search process and revising stated criteria for faculty positions
    • Sharing best practices for all faculty involved in search committees so they understand how to cultivate a diverse and talented pool of candidates and avoid bias in the selection process
    • Examining the college mission to ensure it is focused on facilitating diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • Analyzing previous campus surveys concerning inclusion and climate and recommending questions/practices going forward for more effective and long-term data collection and subsequent action
    • Providing a forum for students to articulate to college leadership their suggestions for how their college can provide better climates for and educational experiences for our Latinx, Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native/Indigenous students.

Attention on Classroom Inclusivity

  • This last year we took two important steps towards ensuring that all of our classrooms are spaces where our Titans know we believe in their success, and where our faculty have the pedagogical tools and personal commitment to equitably teach and mentor our students. 
    • New Faculty Series on Inclusive Pedagogy: our incoming tenure-track faculty in the class of 2020 attended an eight-part series designed to give them the tools to know who our students are, to understand the diverse backgrounds our students bring in terms of personal and educational formation, and to use teaching strategies that evidence shows can lead to equitable learning outcomes for all students. This series was highly rated by participants. It will continue each year, with each incoming class of faculty.
    • In fall of 2021, we will launch the campus Equitable Pedagogy Module for all teaching faculty. This 80-minute online learning experience condenses the key messages of our Inclusive Pedagogy series for new faculty. It is being led by COE faculty member Calli Lewis Chiu and supported by the Faculty Development Center, IT, and the Provost’s Office. When this module launches, all 2,050 part-time and full-time, lecturer and tenure-track faculty will be supported with a stipend for completion. We will be one of a handful of campuses, in the nation, that has a cross-campus, compensated training in equitable pedagogy for all teaching faculty.

Student Success

  • Student-Driven Change in Advising Language: Thanks to research led by one of our undergraduate students, we are currently shifting the campus nomenclature for students who have dipped below the minimum required GPA for good standing. We will replace the term “academic probation” with “academic notice.” Thanks to research the student conducted with peers, we learned that for many of our Titans, the term “probation” has a negative cultural connotation. “Academic notice” will express that the student has been notified of the need to increase their GPA in order to continue towards their degree. We imagine implementing this change in 21-22 with a coordinated effort across campus units and in our communications to students.
  • Graduation Predictor Tool (GPT) Pilots: Over the last 5-7 years, several institutions have made major strides in ensuring all students have the support they need by turning to data. Georgia State, most notably, used this approach to better identify which students were the least likely to persist and graduate—and then matched those students with resources. Some of the variables they, and other campuses that have since developed similar analytical tools, used included high-school GPA, demographic variables, grades in key high school core courses, and motivation to start college as measured by eagerness to register for orientation. In the last few years, a number of other campuses have developed similar tools and these tools have been demonstrated to be one (or many) evidence-based tactics to close equity gaps. Thanks to our Office of Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness, we now have our own adaptation of this tool that has promise for us, and we are piloting it on a limited basis across our colleges to see if it can improve our student outcomes. We will assess these pilots next year to see if we should continue. Some of the ways our colleges will be using this next year include: 
    • Reaching out to ensure students are utilizing appropriate support services available in the college
    • Designing a focused mentoring program
    • Prioritizing advising appointments
    • Providing financial support to enroll in summer session to support the “Finish in Four” effort (or to complete 30 units a year)

Support for Classroom Peer Observations

  • In Spring 2021, the FDC launched the Peer Observation Protocol (POP) faculty learning community. This group of 20 faculty is investigating course observation protocols that could be used across campus to assist in a more reflective observation/feedback process. Research suggests that peer observations, when done by trained colleagues, are less likely to be impacted by bias. With the implementation of POP, we hope the peer-observations protocol will help ensure all faculty receive teaching feedback in a fair and equitable manner. This effort is also an important step towards using peer observation protocols within RTP. It is being led by Gina Harmston, FDC Teaching and Learning Coordinator and Sue Sy, Professor of Psychology.

II. Diverse Professoriate


 

Creating and cultivating an increasingly diverse professoriate to better reflect the communities of our students and push the research boundaries of academic fields. This year we created or strengthened several approaches to ensure that our faculty reflect the diversity of our students, our region, our state, and our academic disciplines.


Equity Advocate Pilots

  • This year 4 of our 8 colleges piloted diverse models for equity advocacy within the college, focusing on ensuring equity within faculty search processes and following best practices in hiring. This next year (21-22) we will be continuing the pilot program and strengthening it based on lessons learned this year. This will include standardizing Equity Advocates’ scope of work and training, with partnership from HRDI. We are already seeing the positive impact that these individuals (in collaboration with the college DEI committees) are having on our searches this year.

Candidate Statement on Commitment to Inclusive Excellence

  • This year, for the first time, we required all candidates for faculty positions at CSUF to include a Statement on Commitment to Inclusive Excellence in their materials so that we can consider candidates’ experience with and commitment to equitable teaching and mentorship alongside their other qualifications when determining suitability for first-round interviews. 

Avoiding Bias Trainings for Search Committee Members

  • All faculty members who serve on search committees are now trained by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Programs to understand the ways that bias can undermine a search process and prevent us from hiring the most qualified faculty—and to commit to using inclusive practices and behaviors in all material review, discussions, and engagements with candidates. Searches cannot proceed until all members have received this learning. We are considering including all department faculty in these trainings in the future.

GI2025 New Faculty Cohort

  • In the 20-21 New Faculty Search plan in Academic Affairs, we included five new faculty positions (funded by GI2025) in COTA (1), NSM (1), and HSS (3). Each faculty search was successful, so much so that we appear to be hiring more than five faculty from these five positions (using other positions that were not filled within the college overall search plans). Their teaching and research/creative activities will support campus progress towards anti-racist, inclusive, and socially just agendas and expand our knowledge in disciplines and interdisciplines to better reflect and serve our communities. For example, a new position in COTA focuses on non-European theater; a new faculty member in NSM brings expertise in math education including how to create equitable learning opportunities to ensure the success of historically minoritized students in STEM. Along with the several new faculty hires in the three ethnic studies departments, we will support each of these new faculty individually in their departments and communally as a cohort. To do that, departments and the FDC will work in tandem to ensure these colleagues are able to launch their teaching and research/creativities successfully and are mentored towards promotion and tenure.

III. Faculty Success


 

Faculty success, in part, requires that Academic Affairs policies and practices are fair, equitable and reward the activities that make our students successful and enable our communities in our region to thrive. It also requires that we recruit and retain Black, Latinx/Chicanx, Asian American and Pacific Islander and Native/Indigenous faculty and ensure that the knowledge they bring to the community and mentorship of students is valued and rewarded, and ultimately infuses our campus in a way that changes our institution as a whole. More than a short-term program (though sometimes short-term programs are needed), this is a multi-year initiative for me and those I work with in Academic Affairs. The work this year focused on 1) mitigating the inequitable, and negative impact that this pandemic could ultimately have on faculty promotion and tenure, 2) creating new conversations with faculty of color across campus to learn from their experiences and determine actions to take, and 3) implementing new longitudinal survey instruments for faculty and staff that, in the coming years, will help us understand and address inequities and identify opportunities in Academic Affairs. This was also a year of many policy revisions in the Academic Senate in order to better value diversity, equity, and inclusion within faculty governance itself and RTP in particular.

Here are some of the specifics of that work:

Pandemic Equitty Responses for Faculty

  • We paid special attention this year to the impact of the pandemic on faculty. Inequities were experienced by our faculty who were caring for young children, who have significant family responsibilities, or who experienced health or financial insecurity in their families, especially in the area of research and creative activity. These categories of experiences disproportionately impact women and individuals from racially minoritized groups. To mitigate the time lost due to these factors and ensure all faculty can approach promotion (and, if applicable, tenure) equitably, we made several policy changes or program additions over the 20-21 academic year, in partnership with CFA and the Academic Senate.
    • Extension of Tenure Clock: We have included all Fall 2020 Hires in the Pre-Tenure Probationary Clock Extension Program created last year. This extends the voluntary probationary clock extension program, created in spring of 2020. As a result, faculty hired in spring ’20 or fall ’20 can participate in the next 2 years of the probationary time extension along with their pre-tenured peers.
    • One-Time Assigned Time for Faculty at Critical Pre-Tenure Stages Negatively Impacted by the Pandemic: Through the allocation of CARES Act funds and supported by the Provost, we have created a program to enable faculty who are in their critical pre-tenure years to receive additional assigned time during the academic year 2021-22. Administered by FSS and supported by the colleges, the program offers 3WTUs of assigned time to probationary year 3-5 faculty members (who will not otherwise receive new hire course release during 2021-2022) to pursue scholarly and creative activity as part of their progress toward tenure/promotion. We have, at this point, provided 90 faculty with this assigned time relief, roughly 40 of whom will take the assigned time next fall and 40 who will take it next spring.
    • Summer Grant Program to Jump-Start Scholarly or Creative Activity. Enabled through support from the Provost and the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, we have launched a program for Summer 2021 designed to support faculty impacted by the pandemic who need additional resources and time to jump-start their research/creative activities. This summer grant program will provide a stipend of $5,000 to roughly 50 tenure track/tenured faculty whose scholarly or creative activities have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prioritization of funding will go to faculty at the assistant professor rank who are not eligible for the Assigned Time for Faculty at Critical Pre-Tenure Stages program and all faculty at the associate professor rank. ORSP has circulated the call for proposals and will be awarding these funds in May.

Working Groups and Mentorship

  • Faculty success often implies a successful individual, generally measured by achieving tenure and promotion. Our Working Group and Mentorship component takes a broader view, and addresses faculty success at the group and policy levels. 
    • This vision largely developed in an ad-hoc fashion, through a bottom-up approach whereby a group of Latinx faculty across campus requested to meet with me and explore ways to help the campus, in its practices and in its physical space, better represent the aims and needs of its status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. They also requested discussions, and actions, to improve Latinx/Chicanx mentorship for leadership positions, support for research and creative activities, and recognition in tenure and promotion (beyond “service”) of the role they plan in mentoring Latinx/Chicanx student and supporting their success. We have met several times and, each time, we work from a revised draft of the initial issues document that the faculty created prior to our first meeting. This allows us to identify areas where progress is being made, where barriers have emerged, and/or where new concerns or opportunities need to be added to the agendas. Areas of conversation that have already led to change include:
      • Visibly representing our Latinx/Chicanx communities and cultures across campus spaces. This fall a public arts project will feature screen-based art and bring the arts and artists into our classrooms. This will expand to include communities beyond Latinx/Chicanx in the future.
      • Investing in and supporting future leaders. Members of the group have connected to the FDC and FSS and been provided with on-campus and external mentorship and development opportunities.
      • Increasing collaborative opportunities for research. Members of the group currently have summer funding from ORSP to craft proposals for external support of large efforts among Latinx/Chicanx faculty on key areas of scholarly/creative project concern.
      • Providing faculty mentored undergraduate research opportunities in summer. Through our Summer Undergraduate Research Institute, over 50 undergraduate students will receive funding this summer to collaborate with faculty in support of their research and creative projects.
    • I am also, as Provost, directly supporting for this academic year the work of the chairs of AFAM, ASAM, and CHIC who are implementing EO1100 so that our campus is in compliance with AB1460. I have provided funding to the three chairs who can use those funds to create additional time for their administrative duties, and those of their faculty, as they begin to create new curriculum, move it through the approval process, and expand and equip their instructional faculty and staff to meet new obligations for Fall 2021. This is in addition to the many hours that went into experimenting with curricular ideas and approaches (across communities), and ultimately understanding, communicating about, and developing the Area-F category and the approval process for campus. In addition, I am mentoring the chairs (at their request) to help them navigate the campus structures that this new responsibility requires, and to serve as a resource for them personally as they grow as leaders in these expanded roles.

Senate Revisions to Policy

  • An important element to ensuring equity in the success and well-being of our faculty are policies in the Senate that enable us to hire the faculty we need and, once they arrive, reward them appropriately by valuing equitably the work they do in scholarship, creative activity, and teaching. Several changes are underway at the Senate to achieve this.
    • Senate Revision to UPS 100.015: Review and Revision of University Policy Statements. This adds a new question to the review and revision process that asks whether such changes to policies will address existing structural inequities.
    • The Senate created a new UPS: Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice at CSUF which codifies our core principles to use while developing, interpreting, and implementing all Senate policies.
    • The Senate approved ASD 20-96: Resolution to create the Ethnic Studies Requirement Committee. This committee is designed to ensure the curricular integrity of the new General Education Area F (Ethnic Studies). Quickly and thoroughly, the committee worked with the Senate General Education Committee and Academic Programs to make sure this important category and curriculum is ready for our students in the Fall semester.
    • Senate Revision to UPS 210.070: Evaluation of Lecturers. These revisions aimed to address the problem of structural bias in SOQ data and its interpretation as part of the RTP process.
    • Senate Revision to UPS 210.001: Recruitment and Appointment of Tenure-Track Faculty. This policy was referred to both the Senate Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Senate Faculty Affairs Committee. These revisions have been undertaken this year and were recently shared with the Senate Executive Committee with the unanimous request that the Executive Committee work over the summer to consolidate the revisions into one policy to be brought to the full Senate for consideration at the beginning of the Fall semester. The aim of the revisions is to articulate more clearly the priority of equitable search practices and effective training in diversity, equity, and inclusion for search committee members.
    • UPS 100.007: With the adoption of UPS 100.007, the Senate added a core document, alongside the Constitution and our By-Laws, to guide our work on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With this document, the Senate passed agreed-upon definitions for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice. The document also reaffirms the importance of these concepts across our curriculum, personnel policies, campus climate, and resource allocations to achieve our strategic goals.

Data-Driven, Long Term Commitment to

  • Assessing and Improving Climate
    To improve equity and climate in Academic Affairs, we need actionable, reliable, longitudinal data that reveals the diversity of our faculty experiences. Previous faculty surveys unfortunately have not been sustained to do so. Results from these surveys have not been broadly shared, discussed, or used to facilitate change. We want to change this. In partnership with HRDI, Academic Affairs (coordinated through the Office of Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness) is—this year—finalizing the contract to undertake the COACHE survey, a validated tool created by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. We will undertake this survey first in 2022, and it will continue regularly thereafter. The survey will ask questions we have identified as priorities on our campus, alongside questions that are standard inquiries into faculty satisfaction across multiple sectors of the campus experience including climate, equity, and inclusivity. This data will benchmark us against participating peer institutions and provide easy-to-read results that we commit to sharing and discussing broadly with the community in order to continuously improve policies and practices with an eye towards greater inclusivity and equity across Academic Affairs. This work will complement an upcoming university-wide campus climate survey being planned by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Programs.
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