Surround yourself with diversity. Surround yourself with UW-La Crosse.
UW-L has always pushed the envelope on diversity initiatives, thinking about equity issues as much as recruitment, thinking about campus climate as a retention issue as well as an equity one, and thinking about ways to better serve other historically marginalized or underserved populations as central not only to our mission as educators, but also to the needs of our communities and our society as befits the Wisconsin Idea. Diversity and inclusion are not new concerns for us, and while we know we still have a long way to go, we have made some progress.
UW-L and the UW System have worked strategically for decades to make our institutions more diverse, welcoming, and equitable.
The first System-wide diversity initiative was Design For Diversity, adopted in 1988. UW System was the very first university system to adopt such a long-range plan. Successes from Design For Diversity included some increases in enrollment of students of color and recruitment of faculty and academic staff of color. As reflected in UW-L's decision to retitle its report to System "Design for Racial Equity" rather than Design For Diversity, equity as a principle goal well beyond simple recruitment became a centerpiece for UW-L's work on the next diversity initiative. More information on UW-L's Design For Diversity successes and areas of concern can be found starting on p. 6 of the original planning document for Plan 2008 (pdf).
Plan 2008 succeeded Design for Diversity and also focused on race and ethnicity. System outlined 7 goals and a timeline for implementation. UWL's Phase I report for 1999-2004 outlines actions already completed and in progress on each goal, as well as identifying actions still needed. Our Phase II report for 2004-2008 (pdf) noted a range of accomplishments still mostly focused on recruiting and retaining faculty, staff, and students of Color. It did, however, also note the work of the Affirmative Action and Diversity Council (now restructured as the Campus Climate Council) to create a "coordinated diversity strategic plan" that identified goals and action steps for a broader range of populations.
UW-L developed and conducted its first campus climate survey in 2004. We were therefore well-positioned to serve as one of the first campuses to participate in the UW System's campus climate survey in 2008. UW-L again conducted its own (our 3rd) campus climate survey in 2013. These studies indicated which populations most needed attention, enabling us to argue for continued support to such services such as the Violence Prevention Office, the Pride Center, Campus Climate office, and the Office of Multicultural Student Services, among other actions. Current plans are to revisit these studies every 4-5 years and to include items that permit us to see our progress over years as well as to identify emerging concerns.
Starting in 2005, UW-L participated in the UW System Equity Scorecard initiative as a means to assess progress on several equity measures, in conjunction with Plan 2008. See UW-L's final report completed in 2007 here, (.pdf). The Equity Scorecard idea remains as an organizing and planning tool for the new Inclusive Excellence initiative.
What's New about Inclusive Excellence?
Inclusive Excellence expands the populations upon which we focus. Earlier diversity initiatives, particularly those that were system-wide, focused on students of color. IE also expands responsibility for inclusivity and diversity - we need more than just the choir to sing!