CSUN Shine

Update on Fall 2016 Topic: Diversity

April 17, 2017

This is an update to the report on the feedback received to the fall 2016 semester topic on diversity. (The report on the feedback is available at: http://www.csun.edu/MakeCSUNShineBrighter/help-make-csun-shine-bright-topic-8-results-diversity.)  The questions that were posed elicited responses from the campus community on how best to foster CSUN’s commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence in order to graduate Matadors fully equipped to contribute and to lead in a global society. Your input reinforces the importance of current and planned programs, as well as their interconnectedness – and provides insight for shaping those programs and strengthening the inclusive and welcoming culture of the campus. This update provides information on the university’s redoubled efforts to enhance diversity and inclusive excellence, in response to the feedback received.

Recognized as one of the country’s most diverse campuses, CSUN recently received the selective and prestigious Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award. CSUN has intensified our focus on diversity and inclusion, leading to the creation of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position. The CDO’s role, in partnership with numerous programs and leaders across campus, is to work with CSUN students, faculty and staff to ensure equitable and inclusive operations throughout the university. A Commission on Diversity and Inclusion has been established and is comprised of a cross-section of campus -- students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. Working with the CDO, the commission’s charge is to conduct an overview of diversity efforts and the status of inclusive excellence at CSUN; to make recommendations to address strength and gaps; and to monitor/evaluate practices and initiatives that advance an intentional and sustained focus on diversity and inclusive excellence.

The university’s planning priorities inform campus decision making.  To clearly and formally articulate the significance of diversity and inclusion at CSUN, the planning priorities have been updated to include diversity and inclusive excellence as a distinct priority:

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

The university is strengthened by a shared understanding and appreciation of the benefits and function of diversity within the campus community. CSUN recognizes the power of diversity and inclusion in the generation of ideas, in the exploration of problems and possibilities, in research, innovation, creative expression, community and organizational development, and in meaningful participation in an increasingly complex world. To realize this commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence, CSUN will:

  • Strengthen institutional capacity to foster diversity and inclusive excellence;
  • Leverage CSUN’s unique diversity capabilities, assets and reputational strengths as drivers of innovation across all aspects of our mission;
  • Give attention to diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and learning styles so that all students have the opportunity to attain similarly high levels of achievement, including timely graduation;
  • Enhance collaboration between student support services in order to respond with agility to the broad range of needs faced by CSUN’s student body;
  • Recruit, cultivate and retain a workforce that is committed to inclusive excellence and reflects CSUN’s students and the region; and mentor and support new faculty and staff in their professional growth, building a welcoming and supportive community; and
  • Actively coach and expect administrators to infuse the principles of inclusive excellence and respect for all people in all CSUN activities and programs.

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Furthermore, diversity and inclusion were woven into the planning priorities generally. See the updated planning priorities here.

CSUN seeks to provide its students with a welcoming learning environment that provides them with the skills that employers demand, preparing Matadors to join a diverse work force, able to communicate, solve problems, work in teams, and think critically and creatively. A number of programs have been launched and more are being developed, to support faculty in teaching a diverse student body, and to further ensure student success. Teaching a diverse student body is an important skill, one that current faculty should continuously develop and new faculty hires must now demonstrate. CSUN Human Resources’ onboarding program has been extended to include lecturers and an orientation program for administrators has been implemented. These programs are thoughtfully designed to acclimate new faculty and staff to our campus culture, including the guiding principles of diversity and inclusion. The Office of Faculty Development offers workshops, talks and materials on an array of topics for faculty (http://www.csun.edu/undergraduate-studies/faculty-development). This semester, CSUN accepted an invitation from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) to be an inaugural member of the Diversity & Inclusion Campus Leader Consortium (DICLC). Participation will provide us with new tools to help us increase diverse hiring and inclusive work environments.

Research over time has helped the community of higher education identify and confirm high impact practices to improve student retention. Among the practices are; involving students in research or community service, employment on campus, internships, and more. Students have the capacity and the desire to learn in a multitude of ways and the university seeks to expand these types of learning opportunities by supporting expanded faculty research and community-service projects. CSUN’s participation in the DICLC (mentioned in the preceding paragraph) will assist us in growing paid internship opportunities for CSUN students. These opportunities often open doors for gainful employment after graduation.

The university is working diligently to close the opportunity gap – the persistent disparities in student success rates between different groups of students. CSUN is a leader in the CSU’s initiative aimed at increasing retention and graduate rates. Dr. Elizabeth Adams has been appointed to the new position of Associate Vice President for Student Success and oversees this effort. The university is also hiring retention specialists. The Office of Student Success and Initiatives (OSSI) has scheduled a series of town halls to provide opportunities to engage with one another around DACA and immigration issues.  (http://www.csun.edu/undergraduate-studies/office-student-success-innovations/town-hall-series)  Guidelines and suggestions for managing forums, etc. are being developed to ensure an open, respectful environment where diverse points of view can be freely expressed.  The University Corporation, the CSUN auxiliary that provides funding for the Beck Instructional Improvement grants, will seek the assistance of Faculty Development to develop a diversity component to include in this annual grants program that supports creative teaching. (Note: When The University Corporation Board established the program, they named it in honor of Judge Julian Beck for his role in establishing the university.)

Included in the rich feedback were requests that attention be given to particular groups of students. CSUN takes pride in being one of the most diverse campuses in the country. CSUN students come from a multitude of backgrounds and many face a multitude of challenges. All students want to feel that they belong here. The university is committed to ensuring a safe, supportive environment with opportunities for all students to thrive. CSUN’s Division of Student Affairs provides support services geared toward the needs of particular student groups. A list of centers and other offices on campus dedicated to ensuring support and an inclusive environment is available at http://www.csun.edu/studentaffairs/departments. These include:

CSUN International Programs, Services and Relationships in the Tseng College of Extended Learning (http://www.csun.edu/tsengcollege/international/all-things-international) connects CSUN to the global academic community, providing assistance to those seeking to come to CSUN, and those at CSUN wishing to study or collaborate with colleagues abroad. In support of ‘the free exchange of ideas globally, central to which is our ability to welcome and interact with those from around the world,’ President Harrison joined CSU Chancellor, Timothy While and the other CSU presidents in signing a letter opposing President Trump’s recent executive order attempting to block entry into the United States to individuals from certain foreign countries. The statements from President Harrison and Chancellor White are available at http://www.csun.edu/.

You reminded us of the importance of combating sexual violence. CSUN has a multi-pronged approach to addressing this critical issue. The President’s Committee on Sexual Violence Prevention includes students, faculty, staff and community crisis intervention professionals. CSUN was one of 14 pilot campuses in the national Culture of Respect study; a report was released in December 2016 (http://cultureofrespect.org/release-core-blueprint-program-succeeds-in-addressing-sexual-violence-prevention-on-college-campuses/ ). CSUN remains a part of the group, whose work is ongoing.  CSUN’s “Shine a Light” campaign was designed around student input to increase awareness of the issue. Incoming students and student organizations receive training on healthy relationships and student safety. For details on these and other programs, please visit http://csun.edu/eqd . In January 2017, President Harrison participated in a panel in Washington, DC on the future of Title IX and sexual assault prevention, and on February 16, 2017, the LA Daily News ran a guest commentary by President Harrison about the important role of colleges and universities in preventing sexual assaults. (http://www.dailynews.com/2017/02/16/on-sexual-assault-prevention-a-message-to-devos-from-universities-guest-commentary/)

Treating one another with respect and courtesy is a fundamental element of inclusion. Every interaction sends a message and how the message is delivered matters. Faculty and staff who interact with students are the face of CSUN and determine the quality of the student’s experience. A cross-divisional campus committee has drafted a set of leadership principles for CSUN administrators. These principles will be distributed to administrators, who will be asked to use the principles and to seek opportunities to reengage on service. Included in the Leadership Principles is the following:

Inclusive: Promotes the engagement, development and equitable treatment of all people. Demonstrates awareness of and respect for individual differences. Supports through action and example, fair treatment and opportunity for all. Actively engages the rich background and diverse talents of university faculty and staff to propel CSUN forward and achieve inclusive excellence. Speaks out against words or actions that are insensitive or inconsistent with CSUN’s mission and values.

You have asked for more common spaces and opportunities for interaction. Based on your input, The University Corporation (TUC), the auxiliary that operates CSUN Dining, will incorporate more community tables in dining/gathering spaces throughout the campus. TUC will seek opportunities to work with other units to create collaborative spaces. There have been recent investments from the CSUN Foundation and the university (examples are Juniper Hall atrium and the College of Education lounge) to help create common spaces that facilitate social interactions/gatherings.

Thank you for the incredible feedback and your thoughtful suggestions. More of your input will be incorporated as current programs evolve and as new programs are established. You have given us much to work with!