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Update on the Strategic Approach Toward Inclusive Excellence

Update on the Strategic Approach Toward Inclusive Excellence (SATIE)

“President Mark Labberton noted that “Fuller Seminary recognizes that diversity, inclusion, and equity are educational, economic, and civic imperatives [that are] critical to achieving academic excellence… To make sustained efforts toward transformational change, a comprehensive approach needs to be developed that involves the engagement of the entire seminary community (Williams et al., 2005). The Associate Provost in consultation with the Diversity Council, Assistant Provosts from the Ethnic Centers, the Faculty Senate, selected members of the Board of Trustees, Senior Administration, faculty, staff, and students have developed this” Strategic Approach Toward Inclusive Excellence (SATIE, 2019, pp. 1-2; Fuller.edu/Inclusion).

The SATIE was developed in December 2018 and adopted in March 2019. The SATIE was informed by and fully consistent with the recommendations from the Diversity Audit that was conducted in 2018. This update summarizes progress that has been made in the last nine months. Four key dimensions of Dr. Daryl Smith’s model for institutional change (Smith, 2015) were used and adapted as a framework for the SATIE. These categories and goals are:

  • Access and Success: Recruit, retain and promote the success of a diverse student body and learners.
  • Education and Scholarship: Promote an education environment that fosters inclusive excellence by engaging culturally diverse content and perspectives.
  • Climate and Intergroup Relations: Promote a welcoming climate that fosters collaboration and healthy relationships among students, learners, faculty, and staff.
  • Institutional Viability and Vitality: Recruit, retain, and promote a diverse administration, staff, and faculty; actively engage a diverse Board of Trustees; and adopt institutional policies and procedures that ensure accountability to inclusion and equity.

Substantive progress has been made toward 75% (27 out of 36) of the goals.

In Access and Success, Global Recruitment, Admissions, Marketing, and Retention (GRAMAR) has taken significant steps in addressing gaps in their service to students, reorganizing their office to increase the responsiveness of their staff, and creating print and digital recruitment materials that highlight Fuller’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity. Future work will focus on changing Seminary policies in light of barriers to success for students of color.

In Education and Scholarship, the IE Faculty Development Group offered four sessions during the 2018-9 academic year, seven faculty received Inclusion and Equity Grants, and courses are being revised. Future efforts will monitor the annual progress of all faculty toward these goals.

In Climate and Intergroup Relations, the Incident Reporting Process has been posted and guidelines for affinity groups and a climate survey have been developed. More publicity is needed to communicate this reporting process. The climate survey was distributed in November. Feedback from this survey will inform future goals and planning.

In Institutional Viability and Vitality, an Affirmative Action Plan and Title VI policy were adopted and departments developed inclusion and equity goals. Job descriptions were modified building on best practices in recruiting faculty of color. Two African American male faculty who are both affiliated with the Pannell Center were hired. Work on translating the Institutional Commitment for Racial Justice and Intercultural Life Statement into policy is a 2020 goal.

Institutional change is complicated, but I have been encouraged by my frank conversations with faculty and the Deans, the increasing recognition that change is needed, and the embracing of the strategic approach by our accrediting bodies. The support of President Labberton, Provost Clements, the Assistant Provosts of the Ethnic Centers as well as the partnership with my assistant, Sara Dwyer, my research fellow, Seohyun Joo, Aaron Dorsey in Communications, and the Diversity Council have been invaluable.

Dr. Alexis Abernethy, Associate Provost for Faculty Inclusion and Equity