Action Agenda for Promoting Racial Equity and Inclusion

Action Agenda for Promoting Racial Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

Valparaiso University is a welcoming community, grounded in the Lutheran tradition, built on values of mutual respect, positive regard, freedom, and reliant on grace. We strive to boldly include all individuals and groups who contribute to the life of our campus in a mutually beneficial way. Difference is a strength and reason for celebration, and we affirm that we are most inclusive when we bring groups together to make decisions in collaborative, equitable ways. Our values do not support language or behavior that demeans members of our campus based on age, appearance, ethnicity, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, biological sex, disabilities (visible and invisible), ideological/political positions, intellectual perspective, socio-economic status, immigration status, veteran status, and national or regional origin. Actions and behaviors based on positions or perspectives that inherently marginalize, oppress, or deny full dignity to all are not tolerated. As such, we will consistently and vigilantly assess our academic and co-curricular offerings and our admissions, hiring, and promotion policies in reflection of these values.

Five-Point Plan

  • Agenda Item: describes the overarching theme to be addressed
  • Action Item: describes a sub-theme within each Agenda Item
  • Action Steps: refer to the specific strategy that will be used to address an action item
    • Accepted Action Steps: are measures in progress or have the confirmed support of responsible parties.
    • Recommended Action Steps: refer to a recommended strategy that will require the support and collaboration of strategic partners
    • Action Steps for Strategic Discussion and Potential Implementation: refer to a recommended strategy that will most likely require financial support and/or the collaboration of strategic partners
  • Responsible Parties: refers to those who will have direct responsibility and/or oversight for the short- and long-term implementation of this action step

Agenda Item 1:
Student Recruitment, Retention, and Academic Success


Action Item 1.1:
Educational and professional development opportunities for the offices of Enrollment Management and Student Life

Given the changing demographics of students nationally, the shortfall that is anticipated in the next five years in the Midwest region, and the continued need to recruit students from larger, more diverse geographical regions of the country, it is imperative that our Enrollment Management and Student Life teams be strong leaders in the admissions and support of our students and their families.

Accepted Action Steps:
1.1.a Implement intercultural competency educational development series

Responsible Parties: Enrollment Management and Student Life
Implementation Chair: Bart Harvey, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admission
CIVC Attachè: Janneal Gifford, Academic Advisor CONHP

1.1.b – Continue participation in the short- and long-term review process for the discontinuance of standardized testing

Responsible Parties: Committee on Academic and Professional Standards and Enrollment Management
Implementation Chair: Bart Harvey, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admission
CIVC Attachè: Anne Raich, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering

Action Steps for Strategic Discussion and Potential Implementation:
1.1.c Financial Literacy Programs to assist underrepresented students and their families

Present through OMP mid-September. Final date TBD based on presenter availability and campus activities 

Implement a non-transcripted, required financial literacy course for students to complete throughout their time at Valpo

Work on developing content around topics that will best support our underrepresented students 

Identify resources and opportunities through which we can develop content. Use these to create a skeleton for the program 

Created a team representing areas on campus that can best support the topic of financial literacy – 

Responsible Parties: Enrollment Management and CIVC/Task Force
Implementation Chair: Jennifer Easthope, Interim Executive Director of Retention
CIVC Attachè: Anne Raich, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering

1.1.d Increase the retention and graduation rates of historically underrepresented students

Responsible Parties: Executive Director for Retention & Student Success in collaboration with various campus constituencies
Implementation Chair: Jennifer Easthope, Interim Executive Director of Retention


Action Item 1.2:
Designated Safe Space for underrepresented students

The retention of our historically underrepresented and often marginalized student populations continues to be a challenge at the University. A designated location may provide the social-emotional safe space needed to help students succeed.

Recommended Action Steps:
1.2.a Discussion on the need for and potential location of a safe space for historically underrepresented students to process experiences both on and off campus

A designated location central to campus will be provided to support the social-emotional safe space needed to help students succeed. 

Responsible Parties: The Office for Inclusion and Retention and President’s Council
Implementation Chair: Christina Hearne, Director of AARC and Interim OMP
CIVC Attachè: Ryan Bye, Assistant Director, Student Activities


Agenda Item 2:
Faculty and Staff Recruitment, Retention, and Success


Action Item 2.1:
Institutionalization and expansion of the Search Process Advocate (SPA) role and training program

The SPA role was originally designed to help support faculty searches with the intent of diversifying our faculty. By expanding this role to staff search processes, the University will have a uniform way of conducting searches.

Recommended Action Steps:
2.1.a – Expand this role to the staff search processes, beyond the original faculty search focus.

Responsible Parties: Human Resources and the Office for Inclusion and Retention
Implementation Chair: Scott Harrison, Director of Human Resources
CIVC Attachè: Angela Vidal-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Action Item 2.2:
Explicit programs to support the retention of historically underrepresented faculty and staff

The Underrepresented Faculty Staff Coalition (UFSC), formerly the Minority Employee Support Group (MESG), has informally existed at the University for more than 10 years and are defined as underrepresented racial, ethnic and international faculty and staff. This group supports its members, many of whom are often siloed from each other across campus. This group would benefit from formal recognition and inclusion on the University Council.

Recommended Action Steps:
2.2.a – Collaborate with the University Council to recognize the UFSC and amend its bylaws to include a representative from UFSC as one of its members.

Responsible Parties: University Council and the Office for Inclusion and Retention


Action Item 2.3:
Tenure track support for underrepresented junior faculty

Issues of historically underrepresented faculty unsuccessfully achieving tenure track is well documented. Research studies indicate that these barriers include bias in teaching evaluations based on race and/or gender, as well as bias related to the legitimacy of their research agendas. All faculty, especially those from underrepresented communities, would benefit from a coordinated support system for navigating the tenure track process.

Recommended Action Steps:
2.3.a – Create annual cohort models for all junior faculty to support them through the tenure track process, with additional attention paid to the experiences and barriers of historically underrepresented faculty.

Responsible Parties: Office of the Provost, Office for Inclusion and Retention, Academic Deans, and Department Chairs
Implementation Chair: Gregg Johnson, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations
CIVC Attachè: Liz Wuerffel, Associate Professor of Art


Agenda Item 3:
Diversification of the Curriculum and Promotion of Inclusive Programming


Action Item 3.1:
Elevation and support for historically underrepresented voices in the curriculum

No matter the subject or discipline, historically underrepresented voices have an intellectual presence that if continually left out and/or dismissed from the curriculum, fail to prepare students to be true critical thinkers and global citizens. The existence, viewpoints, and research of underrepresented scholars need to be valued, shared, and included as part of the overall learning environment.

Recommended Action Steps:
3.1.a – Support the efforts currently taking place through the Faculty Senate’s General Education Committee (GEC) to revise the current diversity requirement.

Responsible Party: Faculty Senate
Implementation Chair: Pete Johnson, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
CIVC Attachè: Richard Sévère, Associate Professor of English

Action Steps for Strategic Discussion and Potential Implementation:
3.1.b – Assessment of historically underrepresented academics, scholars, authors, and scientists having an intellectual presence in curriculum development.

Responsible Parties: Deans and Faculty
Implementation Chair: Pete Johnson, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
CIVC Attachè: Richard Sévère, Associate Professor of English


Action Item 3.2:
Support and promotion of University-wide programs

One of the strengths of Valparaiso University is our ability to hold difficult and meaningful conversations when viewpoints are in opposition with one another. Created in 2016, the Dialogue and Discernment Series: Seek First to Understand, serves as a way for the University community to engage in conversations about seemingly irreconcilable differences. In its first three years, the series has tackled marriage inequality, women’s reproductive rights, and immigration. Given the pandemic and the need for safe physical distancing, we will expand the series into other media formats.

Create and distribute a master organizational Google Calendar that pulls together all important, annual DEI dates currently celebrated on campus.

Responsible Parties: The Office for Inclusion and Retention and Library Services
Implementation Chair: Byron Martin, Interim Assistant Provost for Inclusion and Retention
CIVC Attachè: Allison Schutte, Associate Professor of English

Accepted Action Steps:
3.2.a – Expansion of concepts borne from the Dialogue and Discernment Series into other media formats.
Recommended Action Steps:
3.2.b – Expansion of availability of Racial Justice and Equity Educational information.
3.2.c – Community Engagement and Professional Development.

Action Item 3.3:
Institutionalization of the Basic Concepts & Activities for Racial Equity Work Training Series

Created in the summer and launched in fall of 2019, the Creating and Nurturing Inclusivity (C.A.N. I.) professional development series was created to increase institutionally facilitated conversations on diversity through a tiered approach that serves to meet participates at their level of knowledge and awareness.

Responsible Parties: The Office for Inclusion and Retention, Human Resources, and Student Life
Implementation Chair: Angela Vidal-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
CIVC Attachè: Deondra Devitt, Assistant Director of Human Resources

Recommended Action Steps:
3.3.a – Provide C.A.N. I. level-one training series for all new University Employees.
3.3.b – Provide C.A.N. I. level-one training series to University sponsored student leadership roles and other responsibilities.

Agenda Item 4:
Community Engagement


Action Item 4.1:
Transparent communication of Valparaiso University policing model

It is important that our University’s police department go above and beyond to ensure the safety and security of our University community. In partnership with the Valparaiso University community, the Valparaiso University Police Department (VUPD) has agreed to proactively review its current policing model, philosophy, protocols, and training and development, to affirm fair and impartial policing.

Upgrade police computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system.

Responsible Parties: VUPD, The Office for Inclusion and Retention, and an ad hoc Task Force of students, faculty, and staff
Implementation Chair: Chuck Garber, Assistant Police Chief
CIVC Attachè: Caroline Ban, Clinical Assistant Professor/Program Director

Accepted Action Steps:
4.1.a – Review of policing model, philosophy, and protocols
4.1.b – Participate in on-going professional development to include diversity and inclusion workshops and seminars.
4.1.c – Coordination community engagement and outreach programs.

Action Item 4.2:
Outreach and program development with our historically underrepresented alumni (i.e., racial, ethnic, international, LGBTQIA+, and veterans)

Valparaiso University continues to struggle with connecting with its historically underrepresented alumni (i.e., alumni of color, LGBTQIA+, and Veterans communities). Alumni Engagement can strategically re-engage these historically marginalized populations in pursuit of building a more open and inclusive campus.

Hiring new Assistant Director for Affinity Programming and Volunteer Engagement in Alumni Engagement

Complete alumni engagement scoring project. Vendor has been identified and contracted. Product is in final stages of review

Responsible Parties: Advancement and the Office for Inclusion and Retention
Implementation Chair: Michael Beaver, Senior Associate Director of Alumni Engagement
CIVC Attachè: Kimberly Whalen, Associate Professor

Recommended Action Steps:
4.2.a – Reengage historically underrepresented alumni in the aforementioned communities.
4.2.b – Formation of caucus groups for historically underrepresented alumni.

Action Item 4.3:
Transparent communication of all diversity related demographical data and information

Potential employees, students, and families have a right to know transparently the type of campus they may be joining so they can then make reasonable and educated decisions about their short- and long-term professional development, education, and emotional and physical wellbeing. Demographical diversity information and data for our campus should be easily accessible to those who are interested in working at and/or attending Valpo.

Accepted Action Steps:
4.3.a – Ensure all diversity-related demographical information is easily available to interested parties

Responsible Parties: Office for Institutional Effectiveness, Integrated Marketing and Communications, and the Office for Inclusion and Retention
Implementation Chair: Nicole Niemi, Chief Communications Officer
CIVC Attachè: Angela Vidal-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Action Items 4.4:
Town and Gown relations

While the University does not hold political positions on candidates that represent the City of Valparaiso, its constituents are directly impacted by the City’s policies and procedures. Whenever possible the University should continue to enhance its working relationship with the City’s Administration, including suggesting representation on non-elected boards and committees when appropriate.

Responsible Party: Vice President for Community and Government Relations
Implementation Chairs: Rebeka Arevalo,
CIVC Attachè: Angela Vidal-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Accepted Action Steps:
4.4.a – Representation on relevant City non-elected boards and committees
Recommended Action Steps:
4.4.b – Increase communication from the Town Gown committee to campus constituents.

Agenda Item 5:
Inspirational University Leadership


Action Item 5.1:
Comprehensive Professional Development for the presidential and provost leadership teams

Our institutional leadership should role model the behaviors we wish to see within our community. It is also important that they be able to demonstrate their own levels of competency around conversations related to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice so they can effectively support students, faculty, and staff in areas of hiring processes and policy development.

Responsible Party: President’s Council
Implementation Chairs: President Jose Padilla
CIVC Attachè: Angela Vidal-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Recommended Action Steps:
5.1.a – University Leadership Participation in institutionally sponsored professional development workshops and seminars related to diversity, inclusion, equity, justice, and anti-racism.
5.1.b – University Sponsorship of external speakers and thought leaders on topics of diversity, inclusion, equity, justice, and countering racism.

Action Item 5.2:
Unit Level Strategic Diversity Planning

In order for the University to support and successfully promote racial equity, there needs to be conscious and intentional effort. Through the creation of a strategic diversity plan, the University can track and measure the success of applicable student, faculty, and staff programs and/or services.

Action Step for Strategic Discussion and Potential Implementation:
5.2.a – In the context of the University’s Strategic Plan, examination of Unit-level strategic plans that address community engagement, education and professional development, affirmative recruitment and hiring, systems analysis, and policy review and assessment.

Responsible Parties: University Senior Leadership
Implementation Chairs: President Jose Padilla & Provost Eric Johnson
CIVC Attachè: Byron Martin, Interim Assistant Provost for Inclusion and Retention


Action Item 5.3:
Evaluate the need and develop a plan for critical support positions to serve underrepresented students, faculty, and staff and the larger campus community

Evaluate and assess staff and faculty positions to ensure students are provided the support services they need to be academically successful.

Action Step for Strategic Discussion and Potential Implementation:
5.3.a – Review staff and faculty positions to ensure we are serving our most vulnerable populations.

Responsible Parties: University Senior Leadership
Implementation Chair: Angela Vidal-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion