Strategy Four

Implement a Redesigned Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program

Over the last 15 years Henderson has made attempts to increase the diversity of our faculty and staff. There have been years when efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion through programs such as “Grow Your Own” and the “Summer Institute” have resulted in positive results, especially among the student body. However, our current faculty and staff population does not reflect the diversity of our students. The responsibilities of the position of Assistant to the President for Diversity were divided between teaching as a faculty member and the development and administration of a program of support for students, faculty and staff in the area of diversity. Since the last person in that position retired in 2007, no one has filled the position on a full-time basis. However, the work has continued through the efforts of the individual who held the position on an interim basis and individuals across campus, particularly in University Relations and Admissions, the TRIO grant programs, and Student Affairs. For approximately three years, a Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen grant helped fund the salary and supplies for a position in student affairs for director of league and diversity initiatives. However, the grant has ended and the position is not being filled. The university’s job postings have been and are advertised at selected institutions and organizations to recruit candidates from underrepresented populations. Positions are filled per process guidelines from the Affirmative Action Office and the Office of Human Resources.

A program which cultivates diversity, equity and inclusion is more than affirmative action statistics, however, and it should also embrace differences which include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, abilities and disabilities, religious affiliation, language/dialect, origin/abode, ideology, traditions, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, culture, generational perspectives, and appearance. The mission of Henderson is to provide a learning environment that prepares students for a lifetime of intellectual and personal growth in a global society. Many of our students come from towns which are smaller than Arkadelphia and/or are first generation college students for whom our campus community is their first opportunity to experience a culturally-diverse environment. Our core values identified in this strategic plan include collaboration and community, integrity, and human value and difference. These values reaffirm the university’s commitment to provide our students with a learning environment which includes diverse faculty, administration, and staff who reflect the diversity of our students and embrace our collective commitment to equity and inclusivity.

This strategic initiative will include all university constituents as individuals who have been working on the student and on the employment sides of diversity pull together with community members to change the culture and improve the climate for diversity, equity and inclusion at Henderson.

Action and Elements

  1. Appropriate and fill a position dedicated full-time to leading the whole-campus initiative to improve our climate and ability to increase institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  2. Form a committee of faculty, staff, and students who have previously worked on diversity efforts as well as members who have interest in doing so.
    • Establish a clear definition of what diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural competence mean to Henderson.
    • Define how to measure success.
    • Determine what has been accomplished in the past and which programs or efforts were successful.
    • Analyze why some efforts may have failed and/or diminished over time.
    • Study successful efforts at other institutions and organizations.
  3. Conduct a comprehensive study of our demographic data.
    • Measure data against labor market data where we recruit candidates.
    • Measure data against data from a selected set of comparable and competitive peer institutions.
    • Propose recommendations for changes and their implementation supported by study data.
  4. Conduct and use a comprehensive survey measuring the climate for diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus.
    • Identify reasons for feelings of being excluded and other parameters as determined while making survey.
    • Using data from the climate survey and findings from the study of other institutions and organizations, develop a plan with policies, procedures, and models to increase and continuously promote cultural competency and proactive behavior among all university constituents.
  5. Be recognized as a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion
    • Develop our own Diversity Excellence Award similar to the one at Arkansas State University which recognizes “individual faculty members, faculty groups, academic departments or academic units that demonstrate the highest commitment to enhancing excellence through diversity.” Our award could include staff and student groups.
    • Be the recipient of the CUPA-HR “Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award.”