Conversation on campus: Stanford’s ongoing DEI work and what remains to be done


Stanford has made great strides in its efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, which are critical to its success, university leaders explained Wednesday during an on-campus conversation focused on the IDEAL initiative. .

Discussing Stanford’s IDEAL initiative during a conversation on campus Wednesday were (top left to right) President Marc Tessier-Lavigne; Provost Persis Drell; Patrick Dunkley, vice provost for institutional equity, access, and community and executive director of Stanford’s IDEAL and racial justice initiatives; (bottom left to right) Shirley Everett, senior associate vice provost for residential and restaurant businesses and senior advisor to the principal on equity and inclusion; and Matt Snipp, vice-president of faculty development, diversity and engagement. (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

They added, however, that more work is needed, as indicated by the results of the IDEAL DEI 2021 campus-wide campus climate survey, which reflects serious issues of harassment and discriminatory behavior affecting especially the Black, Latina, Disabled and LGBTQ communities.

“Advancing diversity, supporting equity, inclusion and access is really, really important to Stanford. The success of our teaching and research missions depends on it. Our future excellence depends on it,” said Provost Persis Drell. “If we can [create] positive change in this area, we will make Stanford better for everyone.

The work

Drell noted that DEI values ​​are infused into all aspects of the campus, including planning for the new climate and sustainability school that is currently under development.

However, DEI and racial justice work requires the engagement of all members of the Stanford community, not just leaders and marginalized communities, said Patrick Dunkley, vice provost for institutional equity, at the Access and Community and Executive Director of Stanford’s IDEAL and Racial Justice Initiatives.

Dunkley warned there was still a lot of work to do and acknowledged that marginalized communities who have long advocated for change feel the campus is not changing fast enough.

“We have to keep in mind that the things we’re trying to change are issues, conditions and behaviors that have existed for years, and the process is going to take time,” Dunkley said. Leaders must give the community reason to believe that substantial progress is being made as this work continues through action and transparency, he added.

Dunkley said he was encouraged by the increased dialogue on these issues since the announcement of the DEI survey results, building on the institutional commitment needed for change.

Change of faculty

Matt Snipp, vice-president of faculty development, diversity and engagement, highlighted the various activities in which his office, which is a service unit of the Office of the President and Provost, is engaged in, including writeshops, supporting organized faculty interest groups, and advising research commissions.

Last year, Stanford launched two major efforts to advance faculty diversity: hiring the Race in America group of 10 faculty members — four of them in STEM fields — and IDEAL Provostial Fellows. The first cohort of five fellows arrived in September and a second cohort is expected to be announced soon.

Stanford also offers incentive programs to encourage the hiring of diverse faculty, which may include minority scholars, female scholars, and those who would bring additional dimensions to the university’s research and teaching programs. The number of minority faculty members has increased from 436 in 2011 to 638 in 2021. Over the past year, there have been 21 appointments involving various faculty, Snipp said.

Additionally, as a result of a nationwide search, Lerone A. Martin, associate professor of religious studies and centennial professor of Martin Luther King, Jr., became the faculty director of the Institute for Research and Development. Martin Luther King, Jr. education in January, Snipp noted.

Support staff

Shirley Everett, Associate Senior Vice President for Residential and Restaurant Business (R&DE) and Senior Advisor to the President on Equity and Inclusion, spoke about two initiatives of IDEAL’s Staff Advisory Board.

The IDEAL Learning Journey is a comprehensive staff learning program focused on raising awareness and the skills needed to change behaviors.

“We want participants to gain a common understanding of how discrimination and microaggressions can occur and apply those learnings to transform our work culture so that every staff member feels respected and valued,” Everett said. .

Additionally, the committee aims to pilot a standardized, redesigned approach to recruiting staff who can serve as role models for others on campus.

R&DE includes a diverse team of more than 800 full-time employees, many of whom travel long distances from communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the effects of racial trauma, Everett said.

To support its diverse workforce, R&DE offers innovative educational programs such as the Stepping Stones to Success program.

“They are amazing people who provide service excellence to our students and the Stanford community every day,” she said. “During this pandemic, we have been fortunate to keep our staff employed.”


Stanford alumni and philanthropic supporters are galvanized by this work, Tessier-Lavigne said, and the Development Office has worked hard to build support for long-term vision initiatives like IDEAL.

With their partnership, Stanford created endowed directions and programming funds for ethnic community centers. The university is also in conversation with supporters about other areas of this work, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Research and Education, the law school’s Racial Justice Center and group hires. of teachers.

“Their enthusiasm for this work is important, not only to fund these initiatives in our current times, but because philanthropy, alongside institutional investment, will help provide lasting financial support and ensure that these efforts will be part of our university long-term,” Tessier-Lavigne said.

Tessier-Lavigne also expressed Stanford leadership’s support for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which have recently faced serious threats, including a series of bomb threats in recent weeks.

“We condemn these efforts to intimidate black Americans at these important institutions of higher learning,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “HBCUs are centers of learning, culture and advocacy for the black community and for our nation as a whole.”

Tessier-Lavigne urged the community to participate in some of the Black History Month events and conversations happening on campus, many of which are listed on the Black Community Services Center website.

During the Q&A session, a community member shared an instance in which he said that no further efforts were made to address microaggressions after they were reported to Human Resources and said asked how the staff could believe that Stanford wanted to improve.

The fall 2020 conversations with black staff as well as the DEI survey results reflect that frustration and lack of trust in the system, Drell said. Echoing Tessier-Lavigne’s response, she said it was “unacceptable” and encouraged people to raise complaints if they feel nothing is happening.

“It’s something we need to do better,” and that starts with acknowledging the problem, she said.

Dunkley added that efforts are underway to deal with such occurrences, including a group working on how to create a better reporting process with more safeguards and accountability.

Another person asked if managers would go through the IDEAL learning path first, given the DEI survey data on their role in problem behaviors. Everett said while the goal is for all staff to participate, priority will be given to managers so they can begin to reduce or mitigate these issues.

Dunkley invited those who want to get involved in IDEAL’s initiatives or who have concerns to contact him directly so they can be better connected to resources.


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