Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Office of Diversity & Inclusion

A Brief History

A variety of units promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) have been established over the years at the University of Maryland. The first unit with a broad, campus-wide, multidimensional mission for EDI was the Office of Human Relations Programs (1971). It evolved over time and has been incorporated into the current Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI). Today, ODI is considered a department with three sub-departments. They include the Nyumburu Cultural Center (1971), the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center (1998), and Diversity Training and Education (2017). Diversity Training and Education evolved from an interim version of what was the Office of Human Relations Programs and the current ODI.

Background

The position of chief diversity officer (CDO) was a primary recommendation of the 2010 report, Transforming Maryland, Expectations for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion. It also called for the creation of the Office of University Diversity to be led by the CDO. The CDO and additional staff in the office “will advocate for diversity and equity issues; provide active oversight, coordination, and evaluation of work in these areas; track university progress in meeting the goals of the diversity strategic plan; and encourage and support the efforts of units to achieve their diversity goals.” (p. 14) Three additional bullet points gave fuller definition to the Office of University Diversity (p. 15).

  • The office will serve as a resource providing regular and accurate information on existing university equity and diversity programs, centers, academic units, and identity-based organizations.
  • The office will develop a comprehensive communication plan and strong campus Web presence to: provide diversity and equity information; disseminate examples of best practices for promoting diversity and inclusion; and highlight the university’s leadership in diversity research, academic, and co-curricular programming, minority graduation rates, and other accomplishments.
  • The office will establish a resource center to share diversity materials (e.g., curricula/syllabi, co-curricular programs, fellowships, funding opportunities) and provide a site for consultation and collaboration on diversity, equity, and climate issues.

Following President Wallace Loh’s endorsement of Transforming Maryland, a national search was launched and Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden began her tenure as Maryland’s inaugural CDO in January 2012. Although Transforming Maryland had recommended the CDO be a vice president, Dr. Shorter-Gooden was appointed associate vice president for academic affairs and CDO. She reported to the provost with a dotted line to the president. She was a member of the President’s Cabinet.

UMD's First CDO

2012-2017

With a new CDO, the position of Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity was retired1. The newly created Office of University Diversity consisted of the CDO, a deputy CDO (DCDO) who had been and continued to be associate vice president for academic affairs/assistant to the president,2 and a program coordinator who had worked for the associate provost for equity and diversity.

Responsibilities of the retired position of associate provost for equity and diversity fell to the CDO. These included supervision of the Nyumburu Cultural Center (1971), the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education (1971), and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center (1998). They also included duties as equity administrator in the Office of the Provost.

Responsibilities of the associate vice president for academic affairs/assistant to the president remained with the DCDO, but fell under the aegis of the CDO and the Office of University Diversity. These responsibilities included supervision of the Office of Human Relations Programs which later became the Office of Diversity Education and Compliance3 and the Maryland Incentive Awards Program (2000). The associate vice president/assistant to the president chaired the Equity Council and was the primary liaison to the four President’s Commissions, Women’s (1973), Ethnic Minority (1973), Disability (1986), and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (1997). The CDO assumed direct responsibility of the DCDO’s duties upon his departure from the university in March 2012, a little over two months from Dr. Shorter-Gooden’s first day as CDO.

The Office of University Diversity as the new Office of Diversity & Inclusion

The Office of Human Relations Programs had evolved over the years. In January 2012, it was known as the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and was responsible for providing programs on diversity and inclusion, and for compliance with the university’s nondiscrimination policy. Dr. Shorter-Gooden felt that ODI was a more appropriate name for the Office of University Diversity and changed the name accordingly. The ODI that had been the Office of Human Relations Programs became the Office of Diversity Education and Compliance (ODEC), a name that more precisely described its mission.

Thus in 2012, five distinct units reported to the CDO in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, namely Office of Diversity Education and Compliance (ODEC), Maryland Incentive Awards Program (IAP), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center (LGBT Equity), Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education (OMSE), and Nyumburu Cultural Center (Nyumburu). Also, the CDO had campus-wide responsibilities including leadership of the Equity Council and primary liaison to the four president’s commissions. Additionally, the CDO was the equity administrator in the Office of the Provost, participated as part of the President’s Cabinet, the Deans’ Council, the University Senate Campus Affairs Committee, and the University Senate Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI) Committee.

Diversity Officers

In 2013, the concept of diversity officers as outlined in Transforming Maryland (p. 15) began to be fulfilled. On June 1, 2013, the CDO distributed Implementation of Diversity Goals & Appointment of Diversity Officers which described the role and function of diversity officers with a list of core responsibilities. Diversity officers within each college and division were appointed in September 2013. The appointments were made within each college and division in consultation with the CDO. Thus, leadership of diversity officers became another responsibility of the CDO in accordance with Transforming Maryland.

Consolidation and Reorganization

Shortly after the creation of the Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM) in March 2014, the compliance officer in ODEC moved to OCRSM and ODEC ceased to have any formal responsibilities for compliance with the university’s nondiscrimination policy. Soon thereafter, the CDO absorbed ODEC into ODI with all of the programs and responsibilities of ODEC now part of ODI. The Words of Engagement Intergroup Dialogue Program (WEIDP) was the most prominent program at the time. By merging these two offices, educational programming became a primary responsibility of the CDO along with equity administration within the Office of the Provost, leadership of the Equity Council, primary liaison to the four president’s commissions, membership on the President’s Cabinet, Dean’s Council, two University Senate Committees, and the supervision of four units (IAP, LGBT Equity, OMSE, and Nyumburu).

In November 2016, the process of moving IAP out of ODI began. By the opening of 2017, IAP became part of the Office of Undergraduate Studies reporting to the associate provost and dean for the Office of Undergraduate Studies. That action along with the merger of ODI and ODEC reduced the original five units reporting to the CDO down to three (LGBT Equity, OMSE, and Nyumburu).

Highlights

In addition to the creation of diversity officers and the consolidation and reorganization of ODI, major highlights of Dr. Shorter-Gooden’s tenure included the Rise Above -Isms campaign along with associated programming, and the Moving Maryland Forward grant program.

Rise Above -Isms became ODI’s key messaging from 2012 through 2017. Beginning as a campus campaign involving posters, buttons, t-shirts, lawn signs, and other forms of passive education, it evolved into more intentional programming typically focused during a single week or month. The passive education efforts continued throughout the academic year with special efforts during the designated week or month.

The Moving Maryland Forward grant program began in the 2012-2013 academic year and continued through the 2016-2017 academic year. These grants were awarded using several criteria mostly focused on advancing the university’s strategic plan for diversity, Transforming Maryland. Additionally, they were viewed as seed money in support of programs that would continue without additional funding from ODI. The maximum amount of a single award was $15,000. During the five cycles, fifty-two grants were awarded for a total of $593,294. Although no comprehensive analysis has been completed, we know that some of these grants have had a lasting impact beyond the initial award.

Dr. Shorter-Gooden resigned as CDO in January 2017, and Cynthia Edmunds, Assistant to the President and Staff Ombuds Officer, became the Interim CDO. A national search for a new CDO began.

A Period of Transitions, 2017-2018

In the early hours of May 20, 2017, Lt. Richard Collins III, a senior about to graduate from Bowie State University, was murdered on the College Park campus by Sean Urbanski, a student at the University of Maryland. The search for a new CDO was in its final phases. Given the new urgency, President Loh ended the search and named Dr. Roger Worthington as the new interim associate provost and chief diversity officer. Dr. Worthington, a scholar and national leader on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education, had been chair of the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education within the College of Education.

Addressing Personnel Shortages

Over the course of several months in 2017, several personnel left ODI so that by August, the only three full-time employees in ODI were the CDO, Dr. Worthington, the assistant to the CDO, and the manager of education & training programs. Two full-time graduate assistants (20 hrs/week each) and one half-time graduate assistant continued from the previous academic year. Numerous overloads were employed simply to keep ODI’s programming minimally viable. Shortly before the beginning of the fall 2017 semester, the manager of education & training programs left on extended medical leave reducing the full-time staff to two.

Several actions were taken immediately to begin resolving the severe understaffing of ODI and to resolve issues related to organizational structure. The director of the LGBT Equity Center was brought in on administrative adjustment as a special assistant to the CDO and an education and training specialist was hired on contract. The special assistant became directly responsible for many administrative functions, supervision of staff, support for restructuring, and several special projects. The training and education specialist organized and led one of the full-time graduate assistants and four people on overloads working on diversity trainings. She also provided oversight for the Words of Engagement Intergroup Dialogue Program (WEIDP) assisted by the other full-time graduate assistant. WEIDP continued with fourteen sections led by twenty-eight facilitators each semester. A bit later additional temporary administrative help was brought in due to the ongoing absence of the manager of training and education programs.

With temporary measures in place, the fall 2017 semester began as did the work of restructuring and backfilling empty positions. A human resources specialist was brought in to provide consultative guidance on aligning people and program resources for ODI, and to help individual staff with professional development, career planning, and the navigation of work, life, and sometimes competing equity frameworks.

The backfilling of empty positions began with frequent adjustment of titles and responsibilities. Searches began in the fall with individuals beginning their positions in the spring. In ODI, they included a business manager, an administrative assistant, and a program manager for hate/bias response – a completely new position. Also, two new graduate assistant positions were added to ODI, one for communications and one in support of the hate/bias response program. In DTE, the director of diversity training & education began. In March 2018, two additional positions were in process, DCDO in ODI and an assistant director in DTE. Immediately before they were to be posted, they were withdrawn.

Organizational Restructuring

Shortly after Dr. Worthington became CDO, OMSE officially moved from ODI to the Office of Undergraduate Studies effective on September 1, 2017. Plans for the move had begun under the leadership of Ms. Edmunds. This action reduced the number of supervised units to two, LGBT Equity and Nyumburu.

In restructuring, ODI began a process of reestablishing the responsibilities that had belonged to ODEC in a separate unit, Diversity Training and Education (DTE). Thus, the programming that ODI inherited from ODEC now became the responsibility of DTE. ODI became an actual department in the university’s structure with DTE, LGBT Equity, and Nyumburu as sub-departments.

The funding for several leadership positions that had been in accounts located in the Office of the Provost were moved to the accounts within ODI and its reporting units. This gave greater coherence and flexibility to ODI’s organizational and financial position.

Accomplishments

During Dr. Worthington’s tenure as CDO, several studies, reports, and recommendations were completed that were intended to inform the future of ODI and EDI work at the University of Maryland. These included the first Comprehensive Campus Climate Assessment for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion at the University of Maryland Self-Study Report, Report on Diversity Assets (2017), and HR Recommendations Preliminary Report (April 2018). Also, staff in ODI participated in the Joint President/Senate Inclusion and Respect Task Force. Many of the recommendations in their report would involve ODI. Additionally, ODI initiated an external review of EDI efforts at the University of Maryland. The studies and reports listed above were provided to the external review team. During their campus visit (April 25-27), the team interviewed a significant number of stakeholders. Their final report was presented to President Loh and Provost Rankin the following June.

The Task Force recommendations called for ODI to develop a phased implementation approach and to provide an annual report to the University Senate and the President’s Cabinet on the implementation of their recommendations. As a consequence, ODI developed an Implementation Strategy for the Recommendations of the Joint Task Force in May.

On July 31, 2018, the President and Provost informed the campus that Dr. Worthington would return to the faculty in the College of Education as of August 23. At the same time, they announced that a search firm had been retained to begin a national search for a newly created position, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.

The President and Provost announced the appointment of Cynthia Edmunds as the Interim CDO on August 21, 2018. This was the second time Ms. Edmunds served as Interim CDO.

Notes

1. Dr. Cordell Black held the position of associate provost for equity and diversity for 18 years ending in 2009. In 2010, Lee Thornton assumed that position on an interim basis until Dr. Shorter-Gooden became the CDO in January 2012.
2. Dr. Robert Waters served as associate vice president for academic affairs/assistant to the president beginning in September 2000. Shortly after Dr. Shorter-Gooden became CDO, Dr. Waters left the university in March 2012.
3. The Office of Human Relations Program (OHRP) began in 1971 and in 1976 it became responsible for compliance with the newly created Human Relations Code. This code contained the university’s official nondiscrimination policy. Shortly before the creation of the position of CDO, OHRP was renamed the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. Shortly after Dr. Shorter-Gooden began, she renamed her office, the Office of University Diversity, as the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. The existing ODI was renamed the Office of Diversity Education and Compliance (ODEC) which reflected its responsibilities more precisely.
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