President Bob Iuliano and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Carlos Tasso Eira Aquino give a midyear update on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives at Gettysburg College.
Dear Members of the Gettysburg College Community,
As our community turns its focus to 2022 and the semester ahead, we want to take this opportunity to update the campus on our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) progress for the 2021-22 academic year. This update reflects a commitment made by the College to issue annual reports that “assess the progress the College has made toward its articulated goals.”
That commitment is based on recommendations included in two documents issued by the President’s Office in 2020-21, reflecting suggestions from the report submitted by the Bias Awareness Resource Committee (BARC) in 2020. The committee, together with the Interim Chief Diversity Officer (co-chair of BARC), continues to work towards identifying new opportunities for increasing DEI initiatives at Gettysburg College.
DEI Commitments for 2021-22
Let’s begin with our DEI Commitments for the academic year. These are commitments the College’s senior leadership team outlined in July to guide our community’s work in improving our DEI systems, structures, and practices.
- Gettysburg Curriculum and New Strategic Plan – Our curriculum and new strategic plan will steer the institution—and the student experience we offer—over the next several years. DEI has been at the heart of this planning from the outset, one of four guiding principles informing every decision we make and initiative we pursue. Early in the coming semester, the Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) will introduce the proposed curriculum to the full faculty for discussion and a vote. This proposal includes new requirements on Identities and Cultures (intercultural literacy) and Race, Power, and Equity, as well as a Gettysburg Seminar on Communities and Change. Similarly, responding to the strategic plan’s identification of DEI as foundational, the Integrated Learning Committee (ILC) has proposed a set of co-curricular pathways with a clear and thoughtful approach to developing student DEI competencies.
Because the strategic plan and curriculum reach broadly across campus, they are foundational to our DEI infrastructure. Simply put, this work is paramount. Still, it must be supported by the continued education of those leading our programs. Through the JCCTL, the Provost Office, and other departments, various sessions (e.g. Finding Balance While Supporting Student Mental Health Needs in October) and grants (e.g. Mellon Foundation funding for The June Pedagogy Institute) have centered on DEI content and contained intentional DEI pedagogy. The JCCTL and other offices will continue to identify opportunities for faculty and staff training in themes related to DEI, with the support of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the semester ahead.
- Examination of Diversity Infrastructure – In November, the College reported out on its comprehensive examination of our diversity infrastructure, led by Jennifer Collins Bloomquist, Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Dean of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs, and Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students. The president asked that this review take place to ensure that our approach to DEI work is as integrated, contemporary, and effective as possible.
The approved recommendations include expanding the Chief Diversity Officer’s (CDO) responsibilities to more intentionally and systematically engage with all three spheres of the College—students, faculty, and staff; realigning the College’s organizational structures to ensure that the Diversity and Inclusion Office is structurally connected—per a dotted reporting line—to Human Resources, Faculty Development, and areas of College Life; improving inputs and coordination via a proposed DEI cabinet; and enhancing our accessibility structures.
We would again like to thank Associate Provost Bloomquist, Vice President Ehrlich, and all who contributed their voice and perspective to this important work. The College will begin instituting a number of these diversity infrastructure changes as early as this month, and others upon the review of our next Chief Diversity Officer.
- Chief Diversity Officer Search – With the review of the diversity infrastructure now complete, the College has launched a national search for our next Chief Diversity Officer. Gettysburg is partnering with WittKiefer, a widely respected executive search firm that has supported more than 40 diversity officer searches for colleges and universities in the last three years. The successful candidate will be a member of the President’s Council and report directly to the president. Judgments about any additional staffing will await the hiring of the CDO. That judgment will be informed by the effectiveness of the new infrastructure, other related DEI commitments, and the College’s overall response to evolving budgetary considerations. Pending the search, Dr. Aquino will continue to ensure that we are advancing our DEI commitments in his capacity as Interim Chief Diversity Officer.
A special thanks to the members of our search advisory committee: Clayton Brosend ’24; Britney Brunache ’22; Triada Chavis, Academic Administrative Assistant, IDS and IGS; Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students (Co-Chair); Bob Iuliano, President (Co-Chair); Jennifer Lucas, Executive Director of Human Resources (Search Coordinator); Gretchen Natter, Assistant Dean of College Life, Executive Director of the Center for Public Service (Inclusion Partner); Linus Nyiwul, Associate Professor of Economics and Africana Studies; Carey Thompson, Vice President for Enrollment and Educational Services; and Alex Trillo, Associate Professor of Biology. If you have thoughts about the search, please be in touch with any member of the advisory committee.
- Assessment of Appropriate Staffing in OME and other DEI areas of College Life– As part of the diversity infrastructure review, Vice President Ehrlich also assessed the appropriate staffing related to DEI work in College Life. This includes OME, Gender and Sexuality, International Student Services, and Religious and Spiritual Life. The most significant outcome of the assessment is maintaining existing staffing levels in OME, while redeploying other existing resources to create the position of Associate Dean for Inclusion and Belonging. The Associate Dean will lead, enhance, and align the DEI work within College Life to support students from historically underrepresented identities and promote an environment of inclusion, equity, and belonging within our campus community. This search is in process now.
- Distribution of Campus Climate Study Survey – Gettysburg College will distribute its Campus Climate Study survey on Tuesday, February 22. All students, faculty, and staff will be encouraged to complete and submit the survey by Friday, March 25. The confidential survey results will be analyzed during Spring 2022. In Summer 2022, a comprehensive report with the survey results will be developed. The wrap up of the process will happen in Fall 2022, with the presentation of the report results to the community, and the development of strategic initiatives and actions to address the concerns, and suggestions of the Campus Climate Study survey.
This study has proven to be a catalyst for change within our community. For example, as a result of our last Campus Climate Study in 2016, the College relocated the Office of Multicultural Engagement into its own building on campus. In addition, it also inspired the launch of our Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and our Inclusion Partner Program (IPP). Please contribute your voice to this survey. The Campus Climate Study survey link will be shared with you in February.
- Divisional Inclusion Action Plans – Earlier this fall, the Interim CDO reviewed each division’s Inclusion Action Plan (IAP) to identify opportunities for improvement. A President’s Council meeting in October was then devoted to discussing the IAPs and coordinating divisional efforts. Since this meeting, divisions have further strengthened their IAPs based on evolving priorities (including as informed by the strategic planning process), as well as the feedback received from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. It is important that the IAPs be flexible; so much of the day-to-day experiences on campus are defined by divisional policies and cultures, and the IAPs need to respond to changing local circumstances and evolving understandings of best practices.
Several academic departments have demonstrated an interest in developing their own IAPs, and some have already taken the initial steps towards that goal. If any other academic department is interested in creating an IAP, please contact Jesse Mains of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to begin the process.
- Institutional Accountability – Our DEI Commitments for 2021-22 are focused on addressing the systems, structures, and practices at Gettysburg College. As such, the actions we take now will have long-term effects on the institution and our DEI goals. This is critical work. If we are to make meaningful progress in strengthening DEI at a systemic level, we must continue to prioritize this work and hold one another accountable for seeing these commitments come to fruition.
As President and Interim CDO, accountability for the institution’s DEI progress begins with us—and it extends to our colleagues on the President’s Council, the faculty, all administrators and staff, and every student enrolled at the College. While this work will inevitably take time to thoughtfully execute, we will continue to act with a sense of urgency to advance these commitments in Spring 2022.
Inspiring Community DEI Actions
Since our DEI Commitments rightly focus on improving our institutional systems, structures, and practices, they have been at the forefront of our collective DEI efforts this past fall. It is important to acknowledge, however, that the campus community more broadly is pursuing many other DEI initiatives in parallel with these commitments. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize a few we find particularly inspiring.
- Gettysburg College Establishing the Country’s First Chapter of American Anti-Racism Alliance – The American Anti-Racism Alliance (AARA) is an organization that is committed to forming “a more perfect Union” by addressing the root causes of racism. This past fall, Men’s Head Basketball Coach B.J. Dunne invited Gettysburg College parent Kyle Williams P’23 and his team to host the anti-racism activation experience, “A Long Talk About the Uncomfortable Truth.” More than 100 student-athletes, coaches, and Gettysburg students and faculty participated in this conversation on racial and social justice. Through Coach Dunne’s leadership, as well as the hard work of the men’s basketball program and a committed group of faculty and staff, the College is now working to establish the country’s first chapter of American Anti-Racism Alliance.
We would like to commend Coach Dunne and his student-athletes for their extraordinary efforts. In fact, in recent months, Coach Dunne was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Committee on Racial Reconciliation, which is charged with addressing issues related to racial injustice within both intercollegiate athletics and society at large. He also presented to more than 90 coaches from 48 NCAA programs as part of the “A Long Talk,” which seeks to energize, activate, and empower allies in the pursuit of a shared purpose to erase racism and dismantle systemic oppression in America.
- Bruce S. Gordon ’68 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Teaching Excellence Prize – At Fall Honors Day, Prof. István Urcuyo was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the Bruce S. Gordon ’68 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Teaching Excellence Prize. While inclusive teaching is the responsibility of every course instructor, this award acknowledges and highlights transformational, outstanding, and sustained teaching and mentoring, as well as service and outreach, that advances DEI at Gettysburg College. Please join us in congratulating István for this well-deserved honor!
- Gender and Sexuality Resource Center – In September, Director Amanda Del Gaudio announced that the Women’s and LGBTQIA+ Resource Center at Gettysburg College would officially adopt a new name: The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. The new name is the result a comprehensive review, which featured a campus-wide survey of students and employees. The Center continues to support and passionately advocate on behalf of women and the LGBTQIA+ community, and it is now positioned to more fully unify its many offerings and resources in support of our students.
- Strengthening Accessibility Structures and Practices – As emphasized in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Structures Report, the College must strengthen its support of accessibility structures and for all members of the community with disabilities. This fall, the College developed an ADA Committee focused on developing an inclusive learning and working environment for Gettysburgians with disabilities. In addition, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion partnered with Communications and Marketing to redesign its Disability Services and Support webpage to more fully highlight the broad spectrum of accessibility-related content and resources available to members of the community.
Emerging from this work, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the Provost, College Advancement, Enrollment and Educational Services, and Communications and Marketing came together to sponsor an event in November as part of Disabilities Awareness Month. “The Reality of Living With a Disability” featured Prof. Stephen Stern and alumna Nathalia Mazza ’20 providing firsthand accounts of what the worlds of college and work are like for people with a disability, and how we as a Gettysburg community can foster a more inclusive environment.
- Land Acknowledgement– Since Gettysburg College officially adopted its Land Acknowledgement Statement in February 2021, our community has begun the practice of reciting the statement at major campus events, including Opening Convocation, the Midyear Graduate Recognition Ceremony, and Commencement. We anticipate that the Acknowledgement will be read and reflected upon at the College’s events for many years to come.
While our DEI progress over the past semester is important, we have more work to do. To be clear, our shortcomings as a College in the essential dimensions of diversity, equity, and inclusion will not be addressed nor strengthened by happenstance. Rather, this work demands a concerted and relentless effort by every member of our Gettysburg College community. It is work we all must continue to name, own, and hold each other accountable for advancing. This is our charge for Spring 2022. Together, let us each commit fully to it.
Carlos Tasso Eira Aquino
Interim Chief Diversity Officer