Equity and Inclusion Council Interim Report: 2021-2022

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable scholarly community, and to confronting the “subtle and sophisticated” systems that limit true freedom and constrain true diversity of people and thought. 

The Humphrey School community has developed an Equity and Inclusion Strategy and Implementation Plan (the plan) to affirm the School's commitment to diversity. The plan is used as a framework for concrete action to achieve the School's goals by encouraging the Equity and Inclusion Council, faculty, staff, and students to assess the feasibility of various strategies; to implement strategies as appropriate; and to review and report on progress periodically. 

The Equity and Inclusion Council (EIC) is responsible for generating discussion and initiatives to achieve the goals established in the plan. The council’s current co-chairs are Angie Fertig and Tonisha White.

The EIC presents this interim report on its activities thus far in the 2021-2022 academic year.  

The EIC hosted a kickoff event in November 2021, seeking comment from the School community on the current plan. The event was well attended and the council received feedback and observations to support continued refinement of the School’s plans.

In January 2022, the Council met with representatives from the plan’s eight focus areas to hear their progress in addressing equity and inclusion issues within their areas of responsibility, and their plans for the 2022-23 academic year. 

Here are a few highlights from each area (this is not an exhaustive list):

School Climate:

  • Additional student members will be added to the School’s Executive Council, pending University-level approval
  • EIC approved the addition of castes as part of the diversity definition in the plan
  • Implemented regular Tuesday Teas for informal gathering of students, faculty, and staff
  • Set up physical space for rest, restore, rejuvenate (Rm 205) 
  • Planning for an end-of-year event in the spring

Communications: 

  • Review and updates to all marketing materials with a DEI lens to focus on inclusive storytelling across all programs and centers  
  • Purposeful focus on accessibility in website management
  • Incorporated DEI elements into event management
  • Established relationships with more diverse media outlets
  • More intention placed on diversifying HHH experts and voices in the media
  • Creating mechanisms to engage audiences more authentically

Curriculum: 

  • Added several new courses related to equity and inclusion; one of which is now a required course in urban and regional planning
  • DEI curriculum review adopted in the STEP program
  • Focus on integrating DEI and anti-racism content in core courses
  • Ongoing curriculum and syllabus review for additional programs
  • Faculty-centered trainings have begun and will continue

Student Recruitment:

  • Expanded online recruitment, including membership in Handshake, which provides access to 50+ graduate recruitment fairs
  • Continued participation in PPIA and the JSI program (hoping for in-person JSI in 2022)
  • Upwards of 80% of BIPOC students offered merit aid, consistent with past years
  • Working to secure additional funding for student recruitment and scholarships
  • Evaluating whether to make the temporary waiver of the GRE requirement permanent 

Student Retention:

  • Linked supplemental funds for Humphrey student groups to equity and inclusion programming  
  • Supported student groups related to equity and inclusion 
  • Increased promotion of PA 5910: Developing Your Public Service Career, particularly to first-year students 
  • Included conversations about ”Minnesota Nice” (passive aggressive and microaggressive behaviors) and its implications during orientation or a first-year course 
  • The advising office is providing annual reporting for each degree program regarding retention, and consulting regarding needs of marginalized students 
  • Initiate and facilitate an annual process of evaluating retention efforts
  • Onboarding of new staff will mean analyzing needs and building strategic plans

Faculty and Staff Recruitment and Retention:

  • Using bias training material when conducting job searches
  • Including equitable and inclusive language in position descriptions to ensure recruiting efforts invite a diverse pool of candidates
  • Leverage diverse job boards to recruit employees with diverse identities, focusing on gender, disabilities, and veteran status
  • Schedule ‘stay’ interviews with all new hires within their first 90 days 
  • Highlight diversity and inclusion, training materials, and relevant resources to employees via various internal communications methods 

Community Engagement:

  • Researchers participated in University-wide Innovation Impact Case Award 
  • Systematic engagement of faculty and staff in COVID-19 re-entry plan and flexible work schedules
  • Using the Dean’s guest speaker fund to bring more speakers from small and under-resourced organizations  
  • Highlighting grant opportunities with a focus on community engagement
  • Community engagement a key factor in faculty search and dean search processes
  • Plan to choose community partners more strategically, and develop a more coordinated plan at the School level
  • Determine how to measure and assess the impact of our community engagement efforts

Research:

  • Highlighting grant opportunities with a DEI focus
  • Implementation of the Dean’s research match fund for DEI research
  • Work to build a stronger culture in pursuing research grants on DEI issues 
  • More training in grant writing
  • Develop a speaker series, with professional development sessions, centered on DEI issues
  • Improve communications, internally and externally, of pertinent research findings

Next steps:

Over the next several weeks, the EIC and area leaders will discuss these recommendations and use them as the basis for updating the plan. In April, the revised plan will be presented to the Humphrey School’s Executive Council for approval.