To the University Community:
I’m pleased to share with you our quarterly update on our work to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Clark. Our DEI work is ongoing. In this update, I am happy to share some highlights of our progress. As always, for regular updates and more information about initiatives underway, be sure to visit our DEI website.
This is the first update to the community for me since I joined Clark in January. I have taken over the reins for President Fithian who graciously ensured that we sustained these important updates while the CODEI search was taking place. We will be considering options for these updates going forward, so there could be changes in both format and timing to better serve the community. More to come on that front!
Vice President and Chief Officer of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Event Reminder: Dialogue about Enhancing Gender-Inclusive Restrooms
As we work toward being a more inclusive and welcoming community, one significant area of focus is expanding the availability of gender-inclusive and accessible restroom facilities on our campus. The community is invited to a critical dialogue around what we have learned, challenges, and ideas to move forward. We will gather tonight, Wednesday, March 30, from 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Dana Commons. A light dinner will be served. I hope you can join us.
- To continue gaining deeper cultural competency, the University’s senior leadership team is taking part in a professional development program centered around the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) model. The three-phase program includes both personal and group assessment exercises to gain insights into how individuals engage when interacting with others who are culturally different. The aim is to provide an opportunity for the senior leadership team to deepen their cultural sensitivity and awareness necessary for progressive action.
- The inaugural cohort of Clark University Advance Faculty/Staff Fellows (CU Advance), which began in October 2021, will conclude their work this May. CU Advance is a goals-centered mentorship and leadership development program being piloted with faculty, staff, and students of color. Working collaboratively to create a supportive environment for advancing goals towards their professional advancement, the fellows have engaged in a set of curated professional development experiences that offer a network of resources, mentorship access, leadership development, and coaching opportunities to support Clark faculty and staff of color. They will be able to reflect on the experience and offer insights about ways to further develop the program for future cohorts of fellows.
- Student Affairs has been working with Karen Suyemoto, a trainer on diversity, relationships, inclusion, and organizational change and a faculty member at UMass Boston in Psychology and the Asian American Studies and Critical Ethnic and Community Studies Programs. Karen has been helping the Student Affairs team focus on how to improve issues of diversity and anti-racism in the organizational climate and culture of the team.
- The University has secured a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program (DICP) collaboration with Worcester State University for the second time. This program supports cultural competency and awareness-building for staff, faculty, and graduate students. The new cohort will begin in Fall 2022 and have an expected graduation date of Spring 2024.
Building Community Connections
- The Clark community gathered in Dana Commons on January 27 to remember and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The commemoration featured access to the creation of electronic vision boards, soul food lunch boxes, a video of university leaders offering their reflections, as well as a virtual performance by operatic singer Ashlee Foreman.
- The Center for Gender, Race, and Area Studies held the first of a four-part Difficult Dialogue series on March 24. Student facilitators led a discussion covering topics including: “How do we create meaningful relationships across difference? What are the challenges of, and possibilities for cross-racial relationships at Clark amongst students, faculty, and staff?”
- Joseph Corazzini, vice president for government and community affairs, has been appointed to serve on Massachusetts’ Black Advisory Commission. He has also been named vice president of the Diverse Professionals Roundtable at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, a position he will assume in September.
- In March, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion along with the Office of Prehealth Advising sponsored a screening of the film, “Black Men in White Coats,” which examines systemic barriers preventing black men from becoming medical doctors and the consequences on society at large. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with Drs. Anthony Cannon and Joseph Poku, two alumni who serve as University Trustees.
- Vice President and Chief Officer of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Margo Foreman continued to represent the University at the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts (HECCMA)’s Chief Diversity Officers/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Group. The group met twice last quarter to plan a Consortium-wide reception this fall to build community among new and returning BIPOC/diverse faculty.
- Vice President Foreman also participates in a group of Chief Diversity Officers of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. This group is focused on how institutions of higher education are building diversity into their strategic plans and growing the standard operating practices on equity and inclusion across the state.
- Vice President Foreman met with representatives of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Clark Alumni Council. They engaged in deep dialogue around how alumni can be supportive of current Clark students from diverse backgrounds.
- As the Dean of Students Campus Assessment, Response, and Education (CARE) Team continues to work in collaboration with key campus partners in support of students’ unique needs, the Dean of Students webpage has continued to expand in order to provide more information to assist students, faculty and staff in knowing and understanding the resources available. These include emergency funding options and the process for students to apply, including funding for course materials. The Dean of Students office has been prioritizing conversations, additional resources, and advocacy to better support students facing food insecurity at Clark.
- Moving forward, the University has committed to providing annual funding for the Lavender Celebration (honoring the achievements and contributions of graduating seniors who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community) and the Multicultural and First-Generation Student Support (MFGSS) Graduation Celebration. The community looks forward to making these important events a permanent part of the senior week that precedes commencement.
- On March 3, the first University-wide DEI Think Tank breakfast brought together approximately 50 DEI practitioners from across campus to create DEI visions for the future of Clark.
- The University Diversity Action Committee (UDAC) has established working groups on Identity-based Testimonials, Institutional DEI Data, Heritage Programming, Strategic Framework, and Clark DEI Definitions and Values. Moving forward, these groups will provide a structure to bring faculty, students, and staff together around these important topics and to inform decision making related to various institutional diversity planning efforts.
- The Dean of Students Office along with MFGSS is bringing together an affinity group to meet with Ayers Saint Gross Architects next week. These architects are creating the new campus design plans, including the vision for Dana Commons. The hope is to have the students share their voice in what they want this space to look like to help support future affinity students and the entire student body.
- As part of implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Campus Safety & Security, the University continues to make progress toward relocating Clark University Police to the periphery of campus. In doing so, the goal is to enhance the feeling of safety on campus and build deeper trust between our students and the University Police. The hope is to complete the move by the end of this calendar year provided we can overcome a number of significant challenges related to IT infrastructure and connectivity in the buildings off campus being considered for this use for this purpose.
As a first in a Clark construction project, University leadership has established diversity and local equity goals for the new Center for Media Arts, Computing and Design. As a starting point, the contractor Shawmut Design and Construction has committed to working with Clark to achieve and hopefully exceed the following minimums, consistent with guidelines for state-owned projects in Massachusetts:
- 6.9% minimum woman-owned business participation (WBE)
- 10% minimum people of color or minority-owned business participation (MBE)
- Construction workforce goals of 25% of Worcester County residents, 15.3% BIPOC workers, 6.9% women workers
This building will also be the first academic building on Clark’s campus to include 100% gender-inclusive bathrooms.
- The Graduate Board is examining how to remove bias in the application process for graduate admissions. A small group will meet and then make recommendations to the Graduate Board on these admission practices.
- In this year’s undergraduate recruitment cycle the Admissions team sought to further remove barriers that can inhibit access to applying to Clark. To that end, they continued the policy started during the pandemic of removing the application fee. They also sought to ease the financial aid application process by removing the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile requirement for all families with adjusted gross incomes under $100,000.
- The Access Team, a group of Clark students with a special interest in helping students from marginalized communities learn about Clark, was created in 2020 with three student leaders. Given the team’s growth to 14 students this year, the team’s full focus is on large-scale and individual outreach to admitted students who identify as BIPOC and first-generation. The goal is to foster authentic connections that raise early awareness of campus resources, affinity spaces, and cultural clubs.
- Admissions has been developing partnerships with community-based organizations that serve the educational aspirations of traditionally underserved students across the country. For example, in April they will be funding the travel for a group of admitted students from the IDEA (“Individuals Dedicated to Excellence and Achievement”) Charter School network in Texas, thus allowing the students to attend one of Clark’s major admitted student events in person. Clark has been partnering with IDEA for almost three years now and by harnessing the combined efforts we are able to provide this important opportunity to these admitted students.
It will take time to assess the long-term impact of these policy changes and efforts, but as of now, Admissions is seeing a record number of BIPOC and first-gen applications for admissions for the Fall 2022 admission cycle.
The Third Annual President’s Award for Inclusive Excellence has been announced and nominations may be submitted until April 22 at 5 p.m. Click here for more information, including eligibility. Nominations may be submitted via our Nomination Form. These awards will honor individuals, units, and programs that have made exemplary contributions to creating and sustaining an inclusive environment at Clark and in the broader Worcester community. Selected winners will be announced in May.